So here's everything that's wrong with the Internet in one convenient tweet. Well, not everything -- there's no tentacle porn. But you do have two very distinct sides of the Internet perfectly encapsulated in those 140 characters.
On one side, there's that quick-to-react segment of the Internet population who see a fact they disagree with in a post and immediately head to the comments to express their displeasure, even if the point they're making is literally the next sentence they would have read in the thing they're disagreeing with, if they weren't such ADD-addled hotheads. These are the people who see that the word "Aurora" is trending on Twitter and, because stopping to find out why is what old people do, immediately begin crafting a cynical tweet to promote whatever bullshit they have going on.
"Finally, people are catching on."
That's basically what happened here. The faceless social media person who handles the Twitter side of things for Celeb Boutique (who happened to be based in England) saw a trend and jumped on it without investigating it properly.
And that's when the other half of the Internet swung into action: the half that views any slip-up, transgression or lapse in judgment as an excuse to burn down the entire building. In the wake of this unfortunate tweet, protests erupted online calling for boycotts of the company and worse.
While this wasn't necessarily an innocent mistake, and I think I could be talked into the point of view that someone deserved to be fired for this stupidity, it's still just one person who did something dumb. Settle the fuck down, Internet.
Too late, Celeb Boutique. They stopped listening dozens of characters ago.
I chose Joe Wengert's tweet not because it was impossible, but because, considering the amount of people who were given TV shows, book deals and feature films based on their fucking blogs and Twitter accounts in 2012, this sort of thing is actually disturbingly possible.
I also thought it was funny.
Sometimes when I load up my Twitter feed (or "Tweed"), I feel like the precogs from Minority Report or the Hybrid from Battlestar Galactica: a hyper-aware techno-being plugged into an unending stream of data-bits, most of which come out as gibberish, with the occasional camouflaged ad thrown in (surely I'm not the only one who noticed the Hybrid mentioning "the cool, refreshing zest of Lipton Iced Tea" every sixth line?). So it's rare when a tweet actually makes a lasting impression on me. I don't often see a tweet and think "Oh, wow, history." In fact, I often think "Oh, wow, it's unfortunate that I'd feel like an out-of-touch old dude if I didn't have a Twitter." Do we call it "a Twitter"? Is that the correct nomenclature? Kids still say "nomenclature," right?
At any rate, maybe six times a year, a tweet gets twitted that really hits me. These are the non-trivial diamonds in the rough: international dignitaries tweeting as they're assassinated, the first live tweets from the Mars Rover about that crazy thing it found, finding out that The Mindy Project is airing a special Thanksgiving episode ... you get the idea. And this year, probably for the last time ever, it was the fine people over at Encyclopedia Britannica who managed to hold my interest, with a suicide-tweet announcing the end of their print edition.
Seems pretty positive, right? All Obama-y and accepting of change. And hell, it's a tweet with a link to a blog ... pretty hip, Brittanica! Next thing you know, you'll be Pinteresting your articles with your BlackBerry from a Razor scooter.
But if you're like me, and you think about stuff for even a second, you'll realize with a soft sigh that an online version of the Encyclopedia Britannica is essentially just a Wikipedia competitor with no chance of long-term survival. And like that, the part of your brain that recalls a shelf of leather-bound volumes with letters on the spines and very rarely a naked person inside just became more valuable. Now read that tweet again: It's less a rallying cry and more a parent telling their kids that the dog's not sick, she's just going to a big farm upstate where she'll have lots of room to play and stop all the shaking and foaming, except this time, the parent is the one who needs to believe that lie.
Someone needs to take these poor books out behind the barn and Old Yeller them.
And so I bid you a perhaps-premature-but-probably-not farewell, Encyclopedia Brittanica, to spare myself the grisly sight of your inevitable decline. Tell the Yellow Pages hey for me.
That was a tweet from aspiring rapper Ervin McKinness, just seconds before he died in a terrible car crash. His last words -- his enduring legacy to echo forever throughout time -- were a hashtag and a Drake meme.
Make no mistake: This is an awful tragedy. We've all done completely stupid, reckless, irresponsible things in our youth -- maybe not on this level, but stupid nonetheless -- and we only survived those days but for wild luck. Life is such an ephemeral and fragile strand, and it is broken so easily. We laugh, and we dance, and we sing, and we die. Too soon. Too soon. Indeed, the wisest among us will tell you that they know only one thing as an absolute and unerring philosophical truth: YOLO.
YOLO, my sweet friends and darling neighbors. YOLO, my happy maidens and blushing fellows. YOLO, my brave explorers and fighters of wars.