I was in the car the other day with my wife and kids when one of the twins, who is just over two years old, said, “I want to take your picture, Mommy.” So my wife handed her her cell phone, and Abby began saying, “Say ‘cheese’, Mommy. Say ‘cheese’, Grace.” About the same time I turned to my wife and said, “Don’t you need to turn it to camera mode?” I heard the distinctive ‘click’ of the electronic shutter behind me. “No,” my wife answered, “she knows how to do it.” At the time, I thought the look on her face was bemusement, but now I think it may have been smugness.
I only mention this story in the context of this article because it was the second time I was dumbstruck that day. The first came a little earlier at work.
I had just finished a meeting and mentioned that I was looking for a site to feature for this article. Once of my employees offered, without a moment’s hesitation, “Oh, you should write about ‘Cats That Look Like Hitler‘ . Not only did she get the name right, but she knew the web address OFF THE TOP OF HER HEAD. (I’m still debating whether this is cause for termination, but I have made a note of it in her file.) Of course, I soon found myself perusing photos of cats and kittens that had the unfortunate genetic distinction that they, well, they look just like Hitler. Dumbstruck again. This time, not so much that the cats do, in fact, bear an uncanny and remarkable resemblance to Adolf, but also that someone noticed this trait in their own cat; created a web site to celebrate, discuss and promote it; and then found many, many other people who found themselves with their own “Kitlers”. This particular site features a rating system and offers a complete line of products (called Kitlerwear) to satisfy your deep-seated needs for kitler kitsch. I’m at a loss to decide which of those features surprises me most.
Such is the nature of the new Internet, fueled by tools like blog software that make it easy for anyone with any idea to become a publisher and share their thoughts (psychoses?) with the rest of the world. Truly, there’s no shortage of sites dedicated to the odd habits and hobbies of their creators.
Consider the just a smidgeon of evidence: A site that displays photos developed from lost and found film rolls, none of which actually belonged to the person who is paying to have them developed and posting them on the internet. Or the site dedicated to one man’s extreme dislike for the red-haired, face-painted, floppy-footed entertainers. I feel compelled to not that the creator of this site isn’t afraid of clowns, he just dislikes them. Or there’s the online video sharing site where people of all types shoot videos of themselves doing all manner of odd things and then debate over which person was doing it most authentically. The videos are rated based on how many people viewed it and how many commented on it and an entire subculture has been created where people like ‘lonelygirl15’ are famous… oh, wait, that’s the one that Google just bought for $1.6 billion.