By Sam Linton
LOLcats. Laugh out loud funny, yes? LOLcats are pictures of ordinary housecats with ridiculous captions written in pidgin English, to great humourous effect. To most, they are a simple diversion from the banality of everyday living. But those few of us who know have another name for these sorrowful creatures: “the fallen.” For you see, these “laugh-out-loud cats” were not always figures of ridicule and amusement. In ages past, cats were believed to be amongst the most sagacious of beasts. What brought about their current decline in stature? The answer is to be found here, in yet another installment of…
Myths of the Internet!
Cats. In ancient Egypt, cats were revered as a goddesses. Other cultures also held a special place for felines: in Europe, they were known as witches’ familiars, companions in knowledge that humankind simply was not meant to know. And cats are significant in some Asian cultures as well.
Cats have long fascinated people with their apparent mythic insights into the unknowable. Now they talk in baby voices and ask for “cheezburgers.” How did this happen? And, more importantly, how will future generations recognize this, the moment when cats were robbed of their mythic qualities? That’s where we come in. Those of us belonging to the present must preserve the past for the inhabitants of the future.
Once the Internet inevitably ceases to be, be this through nuclear holocaust, rapture of God, or Avian flu (my money’s on the bird flu), we will have to rely on the tradition of oral storytelling. Thus, as you read this story, try to imagine yourself somewhere other than in front of a radiating computer screen. Imagine the tale as it would be related by a tribal elder or village storyteller, recounting legends of long ago by the light of a dying fire in the twilight of civilization. And now we can begin…
As the saying goes, curiosity killed the cat. At the dawning of the Age of the Internet, this saying proved to be disastrously prophetic. For ages, the cat was known for its mysteriousness, lending to the fabled animal an air of superiority, wisdom, and aristocracy. However, it was the characteristic of curiosity that inevitably led to the downfall of the cat.
Cats were intrigued by the Internet. It seemed to promise global access to information, and the cats’ curiosity was piqued. However, by nature cats are also secretive, and therefore they mistrusted the Internet’s vast gaze. If the cats were able to use the net to sate their curiosity about the world, would not the reverse be true?
But Internet was a crafty foe, and he knew the cats’ one true weakness: vanity. To the cats he proposed that they give themselves over to the Internet’s domain and learn all that they ever needed to know to satisfy their curiosity. In turn they would be presented on the Internet such that the entire globe might bask in their elegant magnificence. To this, the cats readily agreed. After all, cats had been revered in Egyptian and (sort of) revered in European circles since time immemorial. What could be better than an entire globe of worshippers? However, crafty Internet neglected to mention one important detail: total access. By consigning themselves to Internet’s domain, the cats had agreed to abide by Internet’s rules. In so doing, the cats had sealed their own doom, for in the domain of the Internet, everything one does, however embarrassing, foolish, or demeaning, is not only preserved, but popularized (see also: The Legends of the Lightsabre Kid, Leave Britney Alone Guy and Obama Girl). Suddenly, everything that the cats did to sate their curiosity, from sleeping on computer monitors (will this feel comfortable?) to becoming trapped in couch cushions (what’s under here?), was preserved and broadcast for all to see. How can one maintain an aura of mystery under such conditions? Simply put, one cannot. And thus the ancient and noble race of cats were denigrated to the level of the LOLcat, robbed of their intrigue and made into objects of fun by the clever machinations of Internet, king of all tricksters.
The lesson of the LOLcats bears much to think upon and is certainly worth preserving for the future. The twin dangers of curiosity and vanity will no doubt plague our descendants in the robot-ravaged battlegrounds of the future. Will our children’s children succumb to the silver-tongued entreaties of cyborgs? Will they trust every aspect of their lives to increasingly intelligent machines and feel secure in their inherent “mastery” until the day that Skynet kicks in and decides humanity is obsolete? Will the children of the feral bands of future-survivalists allow their own curiosity to overcome them and wander from the safety of their units, only to be consumed by waves of irradiated bird-flu zombies? Not if they heed the lessons of the LOLcats and temper their vanity and curiosity with the instincts of self-preservation. With any luck, the mythologizing of LOLcats could spare the denizens of the future a great deal of harm and heartache.
So remember, please, for the sake of the future, to print these articles off. Hand them down to your children, your children’s children, and your children’s children’s children, that the lessons of our times will not be lost.