How I Became Douchebag of the Year
Ron Paul died on the night of December 12, 2012. I know because I killed him.
I won't insult you by explaining who Ron Paul is, or detailing the extent of his fame/infamy across the internet. Nor will I expect that you aren't aware that Dr. Paul is (as far as I know) as healthy as ever; I understand he even gave an eerily good showing in the debate last night. This is a story about a hoax. Well, no. This is a memorial of a joke, a celebration of how a few bored strangers can unite the world in mourning over the tragic death of a living man.
Ron Paul was murdered by a Twitter hashtag. It was a nice, quiet one; its neighbors never suspected a thing. But in the evening of December 12, 2011, #MakeRacistJokesNotRacistAnymore began trending. Unable to think of any racist jokes of my own to respond to the amusing ones on my timeline, I chose to slightly re-interpret "joke" and tweeted, "Ron Paul died." (Note: all images below link back to the original tweet.)
@Boring_as_heck followed up with a heartfelt eulogy
Finally, @moewytchdog gave it a hashtag.
I went about my business, expecting nothing to come of it. But shit, as they say in the reality business (and possibly the waste management business), got real.
#RIPRonPaul caught fire. Within ten minutes, my Twitter feed looked like a screen in a hacker film, with jokes and retweets scrolling so fast I barely had time to add my own. By the time I'd thought to myself, "Wow, this could actually become a trending topic," I saw that it had topped the United States trend list. By the time I posted an acknowledgement of that, the topic was #1 world-wide. It had been 40 minutes since the original joke.
There seem to have been five main types of reaction to Ron Paul's tragic demise. Some of us, like myself, reported the news in a serious fashion:
Others went in a more absurdist direction, often speculating on the cause of death:
A lot of folks weren't sure exactly what was happening, or who the perpetrators of this dastardly plot could be:
Some well-organized folks tried to co-opt the trend for their own nefarious political purposes:
Finally, of course, the most personally gratifying responses came in anger:
All in all, a lot of people wrote a lot of silly words about a silly man. Truly, the future is now. I am certain that a more erudite thinker could find a deep meaning in this episode about the interconnectedness of the modern world, the unexpected consequences that a simple joke can have and the transitory, illusory nature of the internet. Unfortunately, I am not that man, so I will instead leave you with a pair of people who I think summed up the entire #RIPRonPaul experience satisfactorily.
Rest in peace, you crazy racist sonofabitch.