A funny affectation of being online is that sometimes you forget what the world offline is like. Sure, you may log off and go out with friends and family, but the next time you do, when you're out with nonline friends, try bringing up something you saw on Reddit. Mention your opinion of the editorial tone on Gawker. Drop my name. In the "real" world, that stuff means nothing, even though at the very least my name should elicit crotch chirping. And it's hard to remember sometimes that not everyone is online all day every day looking at memes and reading tweets from Shelby Fero because they have "jobs," a word I am incapable of typing without using quotation marks.
She was my Facebook friend until I posted this article.
When you're online all the time, you'll run into certain people and things that seem to be beloved by all and you may not understand why, but they'll have just short of no real-world influence at all offline. Just think of Ron Paul during the 2008 election. If it were up to the Internet, he would have been elected president of the galaxy. When it was up to voters, he wasn't even elected president of the local 4H club. And little Ronny isn't alone. The Internet has a habit of making heroes out of the weirdest people that, offline, are just footnotes, if that.
#5. Nikola Tesla
This wouldn't even qualify as an entry but for one undeniable fact -- David Bowie is not actually Nikola Tesla. Given that, the Internet's curious fascination with the Serbian scientist is harder to explain when you consider that he stopped doing much of note in the early 1940s due to an unfortunate case of death.
Pop culture has a massive lady boner for Tesla, who appears in comics, movies, TV shows and video games. There's even a big, nerdy steampunk con named after him. The Oatmeal just raised exactly one bajillion dollars to start a Nikola Tesla museum with nothing more than hilarious cat and dog cartoons as inspiration.
Much of this pop culture love seems to be centered around him online, where, if you Google "Tesla fan fiction," you'll get a few million results, and only a third as many for "Thomas Edison fan fiction," which is generally much more poorly written and homoerotic in nature. Edison usually starts out by dropping a light bulb and has an assistant bend over and pick it up, one thing leads to another, and everyone's bloomers get thrown out the window.
At first glance, Tesla seems like he might be a good choice for an Internet icon, minus the fact that he's been dead since World War II. He was a bit of a mad scientist type of a guy, he had an irrational hate for fat people, he liked to make lightning and he apparently created a functional earthquake machine. He's pretty much the template for modern-day nerd fantasy.
On the other hand, Tesla was ruined in life by Thomas Edison and died broke and alone, and also celibate, because he didn't like germs. He was hardcore OCD and refused to stay in hotel rooms with numbers not divisible by three, he would use 18 napkins to clean a plate and silverware before eating, and he told people he'd been in radio contact with aliens. So, you know, he was kind of batshit.
Go to Reddit and search for Shoenice22 and then put your baffle shoes on, because you're going to be baffled. It's like being flabbergasted, but fewer people get hurt and the sexual undertones are more subtle. Shoenice is a man who makes YouTube videos. Dozens and dozens of YouTube videos, and each one is essentially the same. Mr. Nice, an affable enough fellow whose giant head fills your screen, speaks with a slow, semi-slurred voice and ingests things. All kinds of things. From full bottles of vodka to furniture cleaner to a dozen eggs with their shells and everything in between, he seems to eat it if you ask him to. Sometimes he almost seems to puke, all the time he seems completely shitfaced to the point of transporting himself directly into the mental state of Lennie from Of Mice and Men, and never does he stop to question why you'd want to watch him, because if people can watch E!, they can watch a dude eat a poster of Justin Bieber.
Shoe currently has 160,000 subscribers on YouTube and over 42 million views. He's uploaded over 300 videos in which he enlightens mankind by eating creams meant to stop vaginal itching and lit birthday candles. Here he is eating a stick of Old Spice:
On one hand, it's not hard to see the perverse appeal of Shoenice -- the dude literally eats anything. Tampons, caulk, bottles of vinegar and booze, what's not to love? On the other hand, it seems like people are just watching to see if his ears are going to start bleeding and there's some way he managed to upload a video while actually dying. He's like Snooki's vagina -- the horrible promise of horrible things you don't want to see, and yet, if it's right there, why not take a look?
Offline, your mom may have heard of Anonymous and thinks they protested something in New York last summer. Online, Anonymous is everything an online journalist is too lazy to research or too ignorant to care about. They're hacker hippie vegan pedophile anarchist European teenager punk liberals, and there's only six of them. They spend all day on 4chan sharing tentacle porn. Sickies.
Except when they don't. Because there's no telling who is calling themselves Anonymous, which is sort of the point -- you can't say who they are or what they're doing a lot of the time. Are they protesting Scientology? Seems like they have in the past. Are they sharing anime porn on 4chan? Well, someone is, anonymously. But they do spring forth on occasion with a few shining moments that the rest of the Internet gets behind -- particularly when it comes to abused animals, child pornography and bullying.
Thanks to the vigilante efforts of Anonymous, the lady who dumped a cat in the trash was identified, and so was the girl who tossed a puppy into a river. They love animals, the little scamps! They also hate pedophiles!
You may be thinking that these guys seem pretty great, and the fact that they hate Scientology makes them seem even more awesome because Scientology, as we all know, is worse than Hitler AIDS. Then the guy next to you may want to pipe up and ask about all the child porn people get off of 4chan, where Anonymous allegedly resides all the time anyway, and this whole heroism thing comes crashing down.
Indeed, as awesome and altruistic as the goals of Anonymous are sometimes, they also sometimes just harass people mercilessly for perceived slights, hack government and business websites (which our lawyers insist we tell you is bad) and perpetuate memes. You can never underestimate the unforgivable nature of memes. Of course it's up to you to decide if the bad outweighs the good, which I am not suggesting at all. Love you, Anonymous, please don't ruin my life.