6 Ways To Make Money Off The Internet (If You're An Asshole)
The Internet has changed the world of commerce, presenting us with a whole universe of amazing opportunities to make money ... provided you're a jackass. Every day, enterprising dickheads come up with more and more ideas to get rich through shady means. And goddammit, they're working. Never before in human history has it been so profitable to be a small-minded jerk, as evidenced by successful business stories like ...
Sites That Send Your Enemies Poop, Vagina Cleaning Kits, Or Dicks Of Various Sizes
Remember those fast, heady days in January when everyone seemed to lose their shit over a website that allowed irredeemable assholes to send packets of glitter (apparently the second worst thing that you could unexpectedly receive, outside of Ebola) to their "enemies"? Good, because those days are now forever, due to the Internet's collective inability to not beat a joke to death. For starters:
"Whoever's sent this can ... well, you know."
Yes, for the low, low price of $too-much-money, budding Richard Nixons everywhere can arrange for their enemies to receive anything, from a pack of dick-shaped gummies, to $8.99 worth of literally nothing, to poop. Just poop. Get it? Because poop is bad? Come on, an eight-year-old would find that hilarious -- just not the specific eight-year-old girl who got sent a bucket of poop through the site and thought it was chocolate ice cream. Luckily, her mother realized what it really was before they broke out the whipped cream and sprinkles.
For the truly committed psychopaths out there, you can even arrange for your future murder victim to receive a gigantic cardboard penis or a vagina cleaning kit, because that's the price they'll all pay for having ignored you in school. But at least those sites displayed some amount of creativity; others flat-out copied the original glitter website (sometimes word for word), creating a bustling marketplace that all logic and reason says shouldn't exist. In fact, the word "glitter" featured in so many newly-registered website domains that it briefly became one of the top three words used in new registrations. We'll remind you that we still live in a world where boobs exist.
Sadly, as of this writing, glitterboobs.com doesn't exist.
Strangely, this isn't a new phenomenon. It's hard to believe, but spiteful people could log into their AOL accounts and send each other smelly fish, pubic lice, an adorably quaint rude letter, and of course, poop (a timeless classic). The only thing that's changed is that we've moved from "small-scale harassment" to "hilarious pranks."
Just to rub salt in the wound even more, it also turns out that the first glitter website wasn't some crazy spontaneous viral hit. It was a coldly calculated marketing stunt. And as if we needed any more reasons to despise the guy behind it, the world fell for it. Because the Internet craves novelty during those scant few seconds a day that it's not declaring itself introverted or downloading the latest Paul Blart hentai.
The Latest Crowdfunding Craze: Donating Thousands Of Dollars Out Of Spite
The rise of crowdfunding websites such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo was meant to herald a new era for mankind; one in which we tossed aside our petty differences and worked together to fund awesome shit. Unfortunately, the Internet has collectively decided it would be way more interesting if we used this technology to pay for stuff we don't want, as a passive-aggressive "fuck you" to other people.
For instance, following Indiana's passing of the Religious Freedom Restoration (a.k.a "It's OK To Discriminate Against Gay People") Act, a pizzeria bravely came out and said they'd refuse to cater any gay weddings, because homosexuality is a sin. An even bigger one than serving pizza at a wedding, apparently.
Wait, we finally found a good use for this.
After people began leaving negative reviews of the pizzeria online, a reporter from the far-right bullshit monger The Blaze created a fundraiser to help the poor owners recover from the damage wrought by free speech. Within days, they'd raised a total of $847,387, becoming the second most successful campaign at the GoFundMe site, beating out unworthy causes like saving a woman with a rare cancer and helping Boston Marathon victims. And that's the touching story of how nearly 30,000 people united to prove that ... they have money and hate gays? We did learn one important lesson from all this: Even shitheads like pizza.
And with that, it's time to bring up The Sarkeesian Effect. Concocted by bathtub owner Jordan Owen and skull fetishist Davis Aurini, TSE is a documentary examining how progressive types have forever ruined video games with their uppity demands that not every protagonist be a chiseled, white, heterosexual studmuffin. To fund this masterpiece, Owen and Aurini turned to the crowdfunding site Patreon, through which hilariously bearded dudes who want to see feminists put in their place have been giving them over $7,500 per month. Since last August.
Five percent went to poster design and 95 percent to skull-shaped bath bombs.
So where's the movie? Well, there's an unintentionally amusing trailer, but according to their own Patreon page, they're going to start filming only after they start receiving $15k a month. In any case, a group of a few hundred extremely angry, extremely dumb guys have been paying two assclowns to sit in front of a webcam and record half-assed "updates" with the occasional broken audio. Yeah, that'll show those feminists who's smarter.
It could be worse, believe it or not. They could be willingly throwing money at a murderer, as some people did in April when crowdfunding campaigns opened to support the cop who killed Walter Scott. Fortunately, both Indiegogo and GoFundMe had the sense to close these fundraisers down for violating their terms and conditions, one of which evidently is "don't be a racist monster."
Health Experts That Make Shit Up
If you're an online entrepreneur with no understanding of basic science, then you're in luck. The Internet is more than willing to let you tell them how to live, as long as you have a cool nickname or something. For instance, here's one of the most popular health "experts" of our time, literally chewing on a yoga mat on national TV:
A file photo of her with dozens of cigarettes in her mouth would be more reassuring.
The Food Babe is an authority on healthy food the same way 9/11 truthers are authorities on engineering. Among her creeds is that there's "no acceptable level of any chemical to ingest, ever" (a real quote). But it's hard to follow her advice when she's been breathing copious amounts of oxygen for years, the big hypocrite. Her entire shtick consists of finding a weird-sounding chemical in a popular product, breathlessly pointing out a non-edible thing that apparently has the same chemical, and profoundly misunderstanding how chemistry works. And yet she has enough lobbying power to convince Kraft to change the ingredients (and color) of their macaroni and cheese, not to mention a veritable army of social media followers who'll start sending us death threats right about ... now.
And if your favorite food is declared unhealthy by the Food Babe, fret not; between her eating guide, official shop, and sponsored Amazon links, she has plenty of alternatives that will help your body almost as much as they'll help her bank account. However, the Food Babe probably won't fuck up anyone's general health -- unlike Natural News, the popular health news / conspiracy theory site responsible for stories like "McDonald's is force-vaccinating kids" and "AIDS isn't real."
"AIDS? That's just something Queen invented to sell records."
Rallying against Big Government, Big Pharma, and Big Logic, they promote bullshit stories about how everyone is trying to kill you. That is, when they aren't claiming that you can cure Ebola with homeopathy. Or advocating the murder of a whole bunch of scientists and journalists for the crime of not being morons, because that's the bullshit you can expect from a site where the head editor believes that Sandy Hook was a government operation.
Sadly, however, a fascinating amount of people are falling for this bullshit. According to figures, the site receives 1.7 million views a month, making it a more popular health resource than the Mayo Clinic or Cancer.org. Of course, we shouldn't be surprised that a site spreading blatant lies on the Internet is doing so well, since ...
Fake News Sites (Are Depressingly Profitable)
We've talked before about "satire" sites that don't know what satire is and stick to churning out made-up news stories no one could possibly find funny. Hell, we have a whole running series dedicated to debunking the kind of bullshit they publish. Now, you're probably wondering, "But wait. How do they continue existing if Cracked has already proved them to be worthless and full of lies?" Oh, probably because the people behind those sites are still making some serious bank with them.
The business model is pretty simple: 1) lie, 2) make the world a shittier place, 3) profit. First, they come up with a headline that's realistic-sounding enough to fool someone, and then ... actually, that's the only thing they have to do, because most people won't read past the headline before sharing the article on Facebook.
"65 percent percent of our revenue model are people called 'Aunt.'"
Sites like these -- with authoritative names such as National Report, Empire Sports News, and The Lightly Braised Turnip -- are spreading misinformation intended to get the reader angry enough to share the article across social media. That's not a happy accident; it's the entire reason they exist. And if they're ever called out on their bullshit, they can point to the impossibly tiny or well-hidden disclaimer stating it was satire all along, like the digital equivalent of that asshole kid from school who told you that kick in the nuts was a joke.
"Anything resembling humor is purely accidental, too."
And yep, this works. The three most high-profile offenders -- The Daily Currant, Huzlers, and Mediamass -- make anywhere from $40-150k per year. Meanwhile, the National Report clocked an astounding two million visitors' worth of ad revenue in only 24 hours after publishing an article about how a town in Texas was quarantined with Ebola. Get it? Because causing mass panic is funny? Ah, stick to poop jokes, you unsophisticated ruffian.
Annoying, Forced-Irony Fundraisers
There's nothing that can strike fear in to the hearts of people with a sense of humor quite like an ironic fundraiser. It's a trend that reached its terrible nadir with Zack Brown's potato salad -- you know, the campaign that started as a dumb joke between friends and ended up sparking a spiritual revolution, all centered on a foodstuff that resembles white vomit and tastes like a leaking battery.
"One day, people will understand." -- Whoever invented potato salad, before being burned at the stake
To give Brown some credit, he donated a significant proportion of the money raised to charity. It wasn't his fault that the Internet decided this dumb project was weird enough to become the next big thing among people who confuse "being wacky" with "having a personality."
After this, it was the NoPhone, a piece of plastic shaped like an iPhone that was supposed to help people get over their smartphone addiction, presumably by replacing it with an addiction to spending money on useless shit. Then it was a project to create the world's biggest photo mosaic of Nicholas Cage's face. Somehow, that one failed.
Despite a sizable donation by one "N.C."
Then ... you know, we give up. There's just too many.
"But Cracked," you say, in an attempt to cleanse your soul of the shame of having donated to one of these campaigns, "it's all for fun, so what's the problem?" Well, it's the same problem that we have with celebrities using these sites: These campaigns soak up donations and media attention that could be spent highlighting projects that legitimately deserve funding (see: "saving cancer victims" above). There are projects that could better the world in an insurmountable number of ways, but nowadays, they need to register at least 0.7 on the LOL scale in order to have the barest chance of making it. And we know that we're right on this issue because Archer agrees with us.
"Information Wants To Be Free" Websites (That Are Anything But)
For some reason, Generation # (a term which we invented right now) is more aware of their right to information than any other generation before it. We want to be able to read, watch, or listen to anything at any time. Information belongs to everyone, man! Fortunately for us, some people on the Internet are more than happy to provide us with tools to help us with this ... and if they get rich doing that, so be it.
Firstly, AdBlock. It's a browser plugin used by millions to block the display of advertisements on websites, because it's not like the people running those sites have bills to pay or anything. People who would never steal a newspaper justify this by pointing out that some sites have ads that could harm your computer, and AdBlock is just the righteous tool to prevent that. However, it's a little-known fact that big companies can still have their ads displayed, even if a user has the program installed, as long as they pay AdBlock a fee. You might notice this as "completely the opposite of what the program is intended to do," or to put it another way, "complete bullshit."
"Annoying(ly not giving us money)."
However, AdBlock doesn't have anything on the revenue stream that WikiLeaks is currently drinking from: celebrity gossip. Whereas the site once prided itself on bringing us state secrets and evidence of corruption, it's taken to exploiting the Sony hack in the same way that TMZ exploits, well, everything. People can now go to WikiLeaks to read such tidbits as what albums Cameron Crowe listens to, how the backstage of Dr. Oz is run, and whether or not a bromance is developing between two television chiefs.
That is, of course, when they're not selling T-shirts for $21 and insisting that people refer to them as "open government activists" or "technologists." We don't know about you guys, but we're starting to suspect that Julian Assange might have an ego.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this article stated that filming had not begun on "The Sarkeesian Effect", one of the producers has contacted us to say that in fact production has begun and pointed to the existence of a trailer as proof of that fact. We have updated the text to reflect this. The trailer is well worth a watch.
With special thanks to David C. Bell. For more from Adam, check out his article on why conspiracies are ruining the world. You can also contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org with comments/questions/caring loudly.