This strange, impossible standard doesn't just apply to celebrities, either. Now virtually any public figure, no matter how insignificant, owes a complete, thoughtful, and in-depth response to every fart noise that a random Internet denizen bothers to transcribe. I get messages through this site once in a while. Not as often as you'd think, but probably more often than I deserve. I always try to respond, especially if it's nice. Most times there's not much to say beyond "Thanks, homey! Glad you enjoyed it." A few months ago, I received one such compliment, typed up my brief response, and sent it out. In reply, I got a several-paragraph-long seething manifesto of hatred decrying my perfunctory gesture -- lamenting how horribly I'd neglected their precious words, how arrogant I was to assume that I didn't owe detailed correspondence to total strangers apropos of nothing. This random person, who had written me two sentences about how they liked something I wrote, was absolutely furious that I did not, in return, pen a Homeric epic about my dramatic journey to gently cup their balls in thanks for the faint praise they doled out. It's the most extreme example I can think of, but certainly not the only one.
And I'm fucking nobody! I'm an Internet comedian who, in the alphabetical ranking of fame, would rate somewhere among the Ankh-list celebrities. I shudder to think of Nathan Fillion's @ responses -- there must be more unnoticed, neglected fury in there than in the aftermath of a Baltimore American Idol audition.
(Baltimore never brings their A-game.)
Telling Friends You've Seen It Before
This is me. This is my sin. This is my burden to bear.
I am a professional Internet. It's my job to spend most of my days out here in cyberspace, mining the asteroids of content for precious nuggets of information to deep fry in the oil of ... I ... I've lost this metaphor. Stupid Internet has ruined my attention span.
I'm trying to say that, by the very nature of my job, I've seen pretty much everything. I see the BuzzFeeds. I bear witness to the Reddits. I have StumbledUpon greatness, and lo, I was jaded back when Digg was something other than a cautionary tale about mankind's hubris. I'm like a wildly inaccurate living encyclopedia of Stuff That Doesn't Matter. If you want to talk to me about a news story, a scientific study, a pop culture theory, a crazy picture, or a particularly funny cat -- don't bother. I dimly recall everything the Internet has ever done, nostalgic and hazy like a childhood memory.
"Yes, yes I recall the great Gonad Strife of 'aught one ..."
And nobody likes me. It's not just my objectively terrible smell and constant, poorly executed thievery, either. If you've seen everything on the Internet before, nobody likes you, either.
The entire reason we have the share function of social networking is because people love the thrill of discovery. They want to be the ones to introduce new content to others, even if they had nothing to do with its creation. By finding it, we feel we had some part in making it. It's a strange misfire in the human brain, but it's there nonetheless. If your grandma sidles up to you one Thanksgiving, joy twinkling in her eyes, and offers to show you "this funny videogram [she] found on the interconnected nets" -- don't roll your eyes and tell her that even T. rex was sick of Numa Numa back when he first walked the Earth. Just smile, nod, and feign surprise.
Then, when her back is turned, you can pull out your phone and viciously mock her to all your friends on that cool new social network she won't hear of for at least three years.
That's how you do the Internet.
Read more from Brockway at his own monument to narcissism/website, The Brock Way. Follow him on Goodreads, Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook.