There is one that a lot of people seem to forget about the internet. Not everything that’s created on it is real. I suppose it’s pretty difficult to tell when something is based on reality, or a character. But when there’s so much of it to consume on a daily basis, one can’t help but eventually latch onto anything and keep it familiar. But if you pay attention to something long enough, you eventually become emotionally attached to it. It’ll resonate, you’d want to believe it.
The problem with that: Whatever it is you like, it’s no longer given the freedom to be anything else that it can be. It’s only allowed to be what you want it to.
Horse_ebooks came out of the closet as an art project. Which people are also calling a marketing ploy. Maybe it is, but there’s nothing remotely intelligible about horse_ebooks to have anything to actually market.
Sure it had it’s legitimate start, unravelled by internet savy and 4chan-mongering, Adrian Chen. But no-one was the wiser when the twitter account was bought 6 months prior to the articles published date. All that work he put into the story, was unfortunate, because he wasn’t quite there.
Suddenly twitter seems upset at the news. (and I hope they’re half-joking) Feeling like they were lied to, there is no god, What are they doing with their life? What can they trust? Well, what were they supposed to trust? Millions of people were already lead to believe that it was a spam account, filled with arbitrary nonsense. Whether it was a bot or a person shouldn’t matter, it was still nonsense. Hundreds of other ebook twitter accounts exists and a blatantly run by people, because it’s easy to do. Why does it suddenly surprise you that nonsense over the internet was created by someone? Especially due to the nature of real spam accounts, the sentence structure of Horse_ebooks is actually too good to be true.
The funny thing about this is that it wasn’t the first time, and it definitely won’t be the last. LonelyGirl15 is a perfect example of a piece of fiction that is so grounded in reality that you could almost assume it was real. The time that lonelygirl came out, nobody else on youtube was really pulling the wool over your eyes, and being subtle about their fiction. The lone, sweet sounding girl talking on her webcam. It was a formula where every other actual lonely soul would fall in love with her, and want to know more. How unfortunate that the whole thing came out as fiction, and that she was an actress. While the creators were out-ing it as a project so they could explore the story that they were trying to tell, the majority of the internet felt heartbroken and lied to.
Kaycee Nicole is case of when such fictitious persona over the internet is more of a fraud. Kaycee was a hoax started by a middle-school girl and some of her friends, but it never went beyond being a completely harmless character. But then the mother got a hold of it, and it manifested into something more.
The thing that makes it the most interesting, is that the white lie didn’t become harmless until the mother decided to do something drastic, by diagnosing her with leukemia. On level, it’s fascinating to see not only how far someone will go with the white lie, but also how long it takes someone to kill the lie. The mother developed such notoriety as this fictional person, that she decided she couldn’t just cold turkey the whole thing.
She wanted to stop being the character, but she became infatuated with the attention it was getting, that it became much more dramatic and involved as intended. The loneliness that most people feel online was exactly what she was going through, but it became something too big, therefore hard to handle.
Late 2012 early 2013 saw a recent version of that in Manti T’eo, as he believed that he was dating someone over twitter. It even ended in the same fashion (leukemia), but it did far worse for Manti T’eo because he was in the public eye.
FroggyFresh is probably my favorite example to note, if only because I knew he was a character from the beginning. Froggy was also coming out during a time where youtube characters were much more common, so the idea that people consider him to be a hoax is amazingly ridiculous.
On the surface it’s blatantly obvious: Snot-nosed kid with a simple demeanor raps like a genius. Songs had the bravado of your favorite rap artists, but the lyrics were the joke. The skinny sidekick standing beside him, looking all hard not saying a thing, wearing the same Mac Miller tee, was part of the joke. The Gangster life of the small town suburbs, and infatuation with John Cena… was part of the joke. But the internet seemed bent on outing Tyler Cassidy’s character as a hoax.
“Why doesn’t he just admit he’s Tyler Cassidy?” “Dude is so fake, what a hoax! He’s trolling everyone!!”
People have become so cynical, being burned in the past by other fictitious things, that they couldn’t accept FroggyFresh as a blatant character. It’s kind of like a public secret, it’s easy to know what he really really is, but you get so caught up in the drama of those who don’t. But that’s the genius in it. Tyler doesn’t address it because he doesn’t have to, wether you know who he is or not, you’re still talking about him. The only thing that both sides get out of it that way, is amazing music.
So when you look at the perspective of a twitter account not being what you thought it was, when you already believed that it was fake to begin with, the problem is on you. Horse_ebooks, doesn’t lead you on, it just exists in it’s space that you walk past and observe. A lot like a work in an art museum. The problem is also more on you because it’s not the only joke account that you even follow on twitter.
It makes me wonder how blurry the line gets between fiction and reality, especially online. I know it’s just a momentary weakness, but people mostly get hurt by these absurd “hoaxes” because they allow them to. Sure, sometimes it’s pretty believable, but other times it’s too good to be true. There’s still a lot of creators out there that rely on you believing something is happening because you’re watching or reading it on your computer screen and nothing else. It’s happened enough times, where you’d assume one would be able to tell the difference, but it’s also happened enough times where people have just become insanely skeptic and unable to trust anything that happens on the internet.
Which is just as good, because you shouldn’t really trust it anyway.
I think the only question that bags to be asked now is: Should artists continue to go down a path, fooling the audience in thinking that it’s real, when the audience could potentially get increasingly angry about it, over time?