If you follow comedy, Josh Johnson is most definitely someone you need to know. He made a huge impression on the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon earlier this year, and this summer he released his first album– Josh Johnson: I Like You, with Comedy Central Records. He recorded the album at one of our favorite clubs in the country- Comedy on State in Madison Wisconsin. Johnson isn’t afraid to reveal that he has a hard time talking to women or that he eats paper. What he is afraid of is getting tackled in football and not being able to turn off his ceiling fan. This week’s The 5 comes from Johnson. Give it a read and then head over to iTunes now to get Josh’s debut album.
The Internet, it’s how most of us talk, play, and work. The Internet doesn’t exist without the people on it, and half the time the people on it need to be punched in the face. The other half of the time those people are bots. The Internet supports the best and worst sides of the human condition, and like a Bert to an Ernie or a Claire to a Francis Underwood, the Internet does nothing but egg people on.
This brings us to caring, it’s that thing you do at the crucial moment someone falls instead of laughing. Or what makes you listen to the three-hour trilogy of your best friend’s breakup everyone but them knew was coming. Caring is what makes us human, and if you can do enough of it, what makes you special. Try as the modern age might with gadgets and apps no one, so far, has been able to replace genuine human, contact, attention, or caring. We do a good job of pretending it can though. Ever since YouTube made the mistake of showing how many views people got, or Facebook started counting likes, we’ve been in an endless journey for both.
It’s harder to tell what feels better the gratification from people agreeing with you or the easy bounce down the road with your friends as you ride the bandwagon. Lot’s of things have taken place on the Internet that people did, and should care about but we’re not talking about those because they’re thing you actually remember, because you care. This is about just a handful of times the internet was willing to destroy someone’s life, make a big fuss, or start a movement but they all quickly faded away because no one in real life really cared.
Probably not, there was once a lion in Zimbabwe that even people from Zimbabwe didn’t know or care about. Most Americans can’t even find Zimbabwe on a map but once a dentist from America killed a lion from Zimbabwe Americans all over the country were apparently up in arms about that lion they didn’t know about in that place they couldn’t find. All of this took place over the Internet with people calling for the dentist himself to be shot to people calling for his practice to close.
Ironically when people in real life were asked in both countries about Cecile, that was his name by the way, the lion not the dentist, people either didn’t know what the interviewer was talking about, didn’t know the details, or didn’t stop for an interview. Also all that online outrage created exactly ten days of change in policy as it stand at least a year later for about three hundred thousand dollars you can still go kill an exotic animal. Probably the most disturbing thing about this story is that dentist being a big game prize hunter has probably done more for conservation than anyone that apparently cares about animals or wanted his life ruined.
The money that it takes to hire a guide, get a permit, and make the trip to a distant country either goes to that country’s tourism or their conservation efforts. In doing so it creates the reality that one or so rhino’s, elephants, or lions has to do so the others can live. What this dentist did wrong is he shot the wrong one. Truthfully no one actually cares and you can tell because the millions of dollars that could have flooded in to promote and sustain conservation for animals in Zimbabwe didn’t and everyone on the internet was satisfied ruining a dentist life whose name they didn’t know and then forgetting why.
If you buy tabloids before you check out at the grocery store you at least know which celebs are getting married. But 13 years, 6 months, or 48 hours later when those celebrity marriages end the absolute tidal wave of sorry on the Internet is astounding. If just a fraction of the attention that went into celebrity relationships and their inevitable breakups was going on in real life no one would get divorced.
It does no one any good whether celebrities get married, divorced, or start a library people in the real world are equally bored with each. This is perhaps part of the problem. On the Internet you can give your two cents or write an entire thesis on something meaningless and then walk away. You words on the matter stay there forever and as we stockpile thoughts, opinions, and information on everything from if beanie babies will ever have any value, to bitcoin, to if you’ll be able to use beanie babies to buy bitcoin we create a mountain that looks like the opinions of everyone.
More often than not it’s the same person commenting or tweeting over and over again that contributes to information monsoon that makes something viral. Thousands to millions of people on a given day seem to be on the same wavelength on the internet while in real life you can’t get you six closest friends to the same dinner. It’s that ease of access that makes celebrities, celebrities, and what makes their relationships fodder for discussion because they represent the absolute extremes. Whether or not you believe in alimony it’s not sexy unless we’re talking Kobe level money. Maybe you’ve cheated on someone but you probably haven’t made it as public as a Brangelina. In real life people move on because no one we know lives like that.
Tweets, they’re like votes but for your feelings. It’s absolutely incredible the life-ending firestorm you can create for yourself with one tweet. People have lost jobs, friends, and even marriages over a tweet. The problem with twitter is that it’s one of the most face value apps on the planet. Like in the example before though, someone in real life slightly annoyed with someone on twitter leaving a comment or reply, times a thousand, can end up starting a mini movement. Like with all Internet movements it’s short lived and almost always does more evil than good with people feeling very little afterwards because all they had to do was hit one button.
Tweets are also the first place people go to dig up dirt on a person who just got into the public eye. Just got a new job on SNL or a new hosting gig on late night? Twitter is the intellectual dirty laundry of anyone two narcissistic to delete their random thoughts from 3 years ago. I may be alone in this but I firmly believe no one should lose their job, or any part of their real life, over something they threw into the ether years ago that got a retweet and a like. In that situation, the Internet now cares about something even the Internet didn’t care about when it actually happened. Online outrage is the leading cause of idiocy no matter what we’re talking about and twitter is a new stomping ground.
I will be the first to admit that I’m petty. I rarely act on petty thoughts so I never comment on YouTube videos, Facebook posts, Tweets, or Instagram pics unless it’s positive. People in the real world get into arguments all the time. These verbal, and sometimes physical bouts never last that long. Even a twelve round boxing match only lasts thirty-six minutes. There is something about getting that last word though that people can’t resist. Since the Internet carries no tone or facial expression getting the last word is a sign of stumping your opponent. They have nothing else to say. They’ve exhausted all their options and they bow to you in all your wit and wisdom, or that’s at least what it looks like. In reality all Facebook comment feuds and back and forths on YouTube comments end because the people in real life need to fuel them don’t care.
Losing interest is a benchmark of the Internet and it’s why smart people never take the Internet or the people on it too seriously. To do so would be to fully commit yourself to endless hours of arguing, high blood pressure, and a disposition that people in real life won’t understand. It also gives you a false sense of what people are actually like. No one in real life has half the ball to say what they say online. Real racism, sexism, homophobia that run rampant on the internet are so quiet in real life you’d think that internet trolls were real trolls under bridges with a dial up connection.
The final story that brings all of these together happened not that long ago. The owner of that team that never makes it far in the playoffs said something racist in private. He who lost his team because his mistress girlfriend was recording their conversations and put him on blast when she got tired of him. This is the perfect example of Internet rage being nothing people really care about.
The owner, I’m not going to write his name because if you can’t remember it off the top of your head you didn’t deserve to be mad when it happened, is maybe a racist maybe not. Before the internet accuses me of defending a racist I should point out I’m a black guy and I’m sure I’ve said something in the entirety of my life, in private, that would make people mad at me. This was a real life consequence over a private conversation he wouldn’t have even admitted to if there weren’t a tape.
That being said how much should you lose over what you say when no one is around? Ask yourself honestly if someone downloaded an entire transcript of all your private thoughts and put it out for anyone to see would you have a job tomorrow? Is getting people fired for what they put out into the ether when they have thirteen followers on twitter really worth it? Or does it just make us feel better that we made a racist lose his team? Guess what, he’s still rich. Still has a new mistress girlfriend, one whose pockets he probably checks before he starts talking. Still has enough money to buy a new team, and if he does guess who won’t notice until it’s too late? The Internet. That’s the problem, caring over the Internet isn’t vigilant. It requires no work and no passion. It prints no public retractions when it turns out everyone is wrong. Like the guy who almost got his life ruined because he has the same name a George Zimmerman. The Internet is never sorry and never makes users feel like they should be. People in real life are caring, fun, sometimes brilliant, humans who I very much like. People on the Internet are mean, vicious, sometimes cowardly lions that I have no desire to spar with. Until there’s more humanity online maybe we should all care on our computers as much as we do in real life.