By Sam Linton
You know, I honestly thought that I had penned my last of these columns some time ago. Yes, in a fit of unbridled optimism, I had thought that society was actually improving. Suddenly, my quest to mythologize the memes of the internet didn’t seem to matter as much, me being secure and all in the knowledge that they would be preserved forever online in a medium which was certainly not doomed to extinction by the uncaring machinations of a society on the verge of collapse. Nope, nothing to worry about there! Thus I rested, secure in the knowledge that LOLcats, Star Wars Lightsabre Kid, and Peanut Butter Jelly Time Banana were safe for future generations to experience, enjoy, and maybe even learn from. This was, of course, before my earth-shattering, perspective-altering, and, most relevant to this column, web-shaking visit to the York university archives, where I learned one horrifying, terror-inducing, fear-inspiring fact: digital information degrades over time. That’s right, even if society does miraculously escape nuclear annihilation, religious fanaticism or a lethal bout of the sniffles known as AVIAN FLU, we could STILL lose all our valuable internet memes – through simple lack of caring! OMG WTF BBQ!!!!!!11111
Thus, it is with a heavy heart but a renewed sense of purpose that I reintroduce this column, “Myths of the Internet,” to record the stories, forms, and, yes, teachings of our valuable internet memes in a form that future generations can understand and appreciate. Because culture is worth preserving. This week:
The Hubris of Cats
The internet of old was a wild place, full of gods, monsters, and warlords. Of all of these legendary figures, the most audacious, ambitious, and avaricious was a wild space pirate known as Cats. Cats had existed since the days before the internet was even formed, sailing on the high seas of the Sega Genesis, maintaining bases in both Japanese and (poorly translated) English ports. However, it was only once he made the move to the new media of internet that Cats found his true power. Cats quickly realized that now, instead of being confined to individual gaming systems, he could sail his pirate fleet literally anywhere he wanted. He could spend the morning in London only to have lunch in Hong Kong. He could launch a raid against his enemies’ ZIG fighters in Japan from the comfort and safety of his base in Madagascar. However, this freedom of action soon went to the vainglorious pirate’s head. Soon, he began to feel a sense of omnipotence, of complete control, over all the lands of the internet. “I can go anywhere, anytime I want.” Thought the brash Cats, “I have the unbridled power of a god!” It thus came to pass that Cats began to think that his one base of operations was not enough. If he could be everywhere at any time, did that not give him unlimited power? And, if so, could not he make his bases wherever he damn well pleased?!
Thus did Cats deliver his infamous manifesto, “all your base are belong to us,” styling himself with the royal we and demanding for himself all the bases on all of the internet. Thinking that all internauts would bow down before this awesome display of might, Cats never even thought that literally everyone else on the internet possessed this same power to travel anywhere, and that his demand would therefore not only appear arrogant, but woefully misguided as well. Pity poor Cats; he sought to inspire universal fear with his ultimatum, but became a universal punchline instead. Even now, “all your base” can be seen as a humourous catchall catchphrase, ironically commenting on the foolish overconfidence of Cats the pirate in his foolish bid to rule the entire internet.
The lesson of Cats the pirate is one that the people of the future would do well to learn, be that future a nightmarish hellscape or a Star-Trekkian utopia. Remember, just because your mighty Galaxy-class starship comes equipped with phaser banks and photon torpedoes, it doesn’t necessarily make you the masters of the final frontier. Other ships and other societies have equally impressive armaments, and often contain fearsome Romulan warriors, to boot! Likewise, having a sharpened stick and a revolver with two bullets left does not necessarily make you “king of the wasteland” when foraging for supplies in a post-nuclear holocaust Earth; other survivalists could be just as well equipped, and many fallout-zombies can simply shrug aside such meager resistance in their all-consuming rampage. In either case, it remains important for the generations of the future to consider the lessons of the past, so it is our duty to preserve those legends.
Also, be sure to print this article off and store it in a safe place, so that it will outlive its inevitable data-declining years.