3 Kinds of People the Internet Accidentally Invented
The Internet is responsible for many, many jobs, and by virtue of the fact that one of these jobs is mine, I think we can all agree that it's a good thing.
Still, for every awesome job like mine that gets borne out of the Internet, there are a few other jobs, roles or positions that spring up as natural (?) side effects of the Internet's ... Internet-ness. The Internet thrusts these new roles upon us, and, well ... they're not all winners.
Monday Morning TV Executives (And Everything Else, Really)
"Monday Morning Quarterback" is the name given to the man or woman who watches football on Sunday and then shows up at work Monday morning pointing out all of the mistakes the quarterback (and usually the coach) made in the previous day's game. They casually toss out all of the reasons why they would have handled that game much better than the professionals. They do this because they have hindsight. They already know what worked and what didn't work in the game, so it all seems obvious to them (it's also easier to make decisions in a football game around a water cooler, instead of in front of thousands of screaming fans while a bunch of angry men are running at you). I've also heard this sort of person described as an "Armchair Expert." It's someone who has no real experience in anything, but likes to sit around the house (in an armchair, I guess) and criticize and judge the decisions made by actual experts.
Because of how spreadable and available information is today, the Internet has turned us into Armchair Everythings. That's why the comments section of every article and video ever posted is full of people arguing its merits from a place of affected authority. We're all experts in everything -- but let's talk about Armchair TV Executives, because they're more relevant.
"Why, no, I didn't graduate high school, but I do watch a lot of TV. I think I know what's going on."
If you're on this site, there's a good chance that you're a fan of Dan Harmon's Community, a rarely seen (but very beloved) NBC comedy about misfits who bond over being stuck in the same community college (that's the worst and most misleading description of that show ever written). Due to its low ratings, lack of awards and general weirdness, Community has always been right on the verge of possible cancellation, every single week. It's managed to stay on for three seasons and recently got picked up for a fourth, but its creator and showrunner, Dan Harmon, was unceremoniously fired. The news of his firing was revealed late on a Friday night in a TV Guide article. A few days later, Harmon shared his side of the story on his blog. According to Harmon, he wasn't even told about his firing; he read about it the same way we all did.
It's an unfortunate and complicated situation, so naturally, the portion of the Internet that cares about television took to their keyboards and immediately went off like the Monday Morning TV Executives they all are. Some folks rushed to Harmon's defense, saying that the networks are crazy to cut Harmon out of the show he birthed, as he is a creative genius, while others pointed out that Harmon couldn't have been completely innocent, as this isn't his first time being fired from a show he created. Few people were saying, "Hey, I'm a fan of that show. I wonder if it'll still be good next year ..." Instead, everyone was saying "NBC is IDIOTIC, they're handling this all wrong" or "Harmon brought this on himself, that's just the way he is."
Even in our very own forums here at Cracked, we talked about the situation in great detail, all of us behaving like we knew Harmon and we knew what motivated NBC's decision.
"They fired Harmon? But he's one of my friends, I've read literally all of his tweets."
I know, because I'm one of the Armchair TV Executives in that thread pretending he knows what he's talking about when, really, what the hell do I know? What do any of us know? The Internet is so full of information that we're encouraged to comment on business decisions in ways that make us feel like participants instead of viewers, but really, we know jack shit. A showrunner getting replaced isn't new; it happens all the time. The Internet, however, and all of the instant news that goes along with it, is new, which is why we all get to hear about this business decision. And since we can hear about it, we must all suddenly be experts on the inner workings of networks and TV studios, and we've all got loads of opinions that demand to be heard.
Sixteen years ago, if they'd gotten rid of Larry David, the showrunner for Seinfeld, no one would be sitting around the water cooler talking about how foolish NBC was acting, or how Larry David brought it on himself by being so uncooperative, because no one would have even known the creator was fired. I know this, because years ago, they did get rid of Larry David, and no one really paid attention to it. It happened without fanfare, but because this is the future, everyone's an expert on everything, which is how idiots like me can run around the Web pretending he knows what he's talking about.
(Refresher Course: I do not.)
The Absolute Worst Self-Promoters
Social media has been great for a lot of people in the entertainment industry. Using Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and other things, probably, you can find and interact with your own audience and completely control your online image. Cracked's own Shelby Fero has managed to amass an enormous audience and jump-start her comedy career based on the strength of her hilarious tweeting. I myself use Twitter to engage with my many wonderful followers with deep and insightful tweets.
But as kind as she's been to me, Sweet Lady Internet hasn't been quite so generous with some other folks. Before the Internet invaded my life, I found new bands the same way everyone else did: by going to various clubs and shitty bars and following the acts I liked. The bands would get up on a stage and play music I enjoyed, and then I'd go home and they'd go home, and everything was wonderful, because I never had to hear that band talk about itself.
Today, we have the Internet, and if you've got a band and you want to be the biggest band in the world, you would be stupid not to have a website. An unfortunate side effect is that every band that has a website invariably has an "About the Band" section, and I have never read a single "About the Band" section that didn't make me immediately cringe with douchechills. The problem is that these bands want to sell people on how great they are and how unique their sound is, and there's not really an elegant and non-pretentious way to do that. Let's take a look at some samples.
That's the bio of an unsigned band that I actually like. I caught one of their shows several months ago and tracked down their website, but immediately stopped reading their bio, because I wanted to continue liking the band. "Ragged band of untrustables"? Come on, guys. It's hard to like a group that uses words like "sizzling," "sputtering" and "grace" to describe their sound (their sound is "fucking pop music," by the way).
Hey, this other band I like included a "more cowbell" reference in their music bio. When I first heard that band, I thought, "I'd like these guys a lot more if I knew they had the same sense of humor that I had in 2001." So it's nice to see that they do. It's not a coincidence that, when bands get famous, they drop these horrible "About Us" descriptions and replace them with either a series of reviews from music magazines or just nothing. Instead of an "About the Band" section, they've got "Buy Our Music" and "See Us on Tour" sections. As soon as the Black Keys were famous enough that they didn't need to describe their sound to anyone, they took that bio right the hell out.
You'll find the same kind of uncomfortable bios for struggling actors. Since the Internet DEMANDS that you make a website with a bio to complement your resume and reel, actors are forced to write about themselves in a way that makes them sound different, and interesting, so people will hire them. Unfortunately, the part of the brain that makes you good at acting has nothing to do with the part of the brain responsible for not sounding like an idiot when describing yourself.
Go to any unknown actor's website. They're all "high energy" and "enthusiastic" and "destined to be on stage since they were a little !" mixed with a few terrible jokes.
The best bio for an actor is a headshot, resume and reel. The best bio for any band is "There are four people in our band, these are the instruments we play and this is what we sound like," with an immediate link to their music. The Internet has turned artists and creative people into de facto self-promoters, and that's simply not a skill that everyone has. It takes a special kind of person to really know how to effectively use social media to their advantage.
Artists in Bizarrely Specific Genres of Music
YouTube has been pretty great when I'm looking around for new and interesting music. Anyone, from anywhere, can upload absolutely any piece of music they want. I've found awesome music I likely never would have found had it not been for the Internet.
I've also noticed some weird, bizarrely specific musical trends thanks to YouTube. For example, based on the sheer amount of videos on YouTube that are just covers of the Super Mario Bros. theme played on different instruments, one would assume that you legally have to upload a Mario Bros. cover if you want to have an account on YouTube.
It's all there. The Super Mario Bros. theme on piano. Or bass. Or drums. Or gypsy-jazz style (whatever that means). Or one by a guy who plays the theme on flute while beatboxing AT THE SAME TIME. What were all of these people doing before YouTube?
Still, the fact that there are more covers of the Super Mario Bros. theme than I ever care to count isn't my favorite hyper-narrow music trend from the Internet. Every other word in this sentence links to a different cute girl with a ukulele performing a cover of some random, popular song. (Also, there's this delightful lady, who actually wrote a song making fun of this bizarre trend, appropriately titled "Cute Girl With a Ukulele.") Covers of rap songs, rock songs, whatever. Everything. And it's happening all over the world. Some of these people can't even speak English, but you better believe they know how to sing and play "We Are Young" on ukulele.
I'm not saying there's anything wrong with this -- hell, if YouTube hadn't invented the Cute Girl With Bangs Who Plays Hip-Hop on a Ukulele, I never would have known how totally into that I am -- I'm just confused. I studied music in college, and I can't say I remember meeting a lot of uke-trained women who wanted to show me their rad cover of the theme from Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. (Mostly, the women played flute, and the thing they wanted to show me was, like ... flute stuff, I guess.)
It's just one of those things that flourished on the Internet, and as far as I can tell, absolutely nowhere else. When the first webcam was invented, some woman with a ukulele decided to stare directly at the camera and record herself playing a random song, and then every woman between the ages of 14 and 23 decided to join her, and that's why, when the sun explodes and we all die and the aliens come to take a look at all of our historical records, they're going to assume that humanity was like 80 percent big-eyed cute chicks who played ukulele versions of pop songs.
Daniel O'Brien is Cracked.com's senior writer (ladies) and is into bangs and ukeleles (ladies ... again).