This lyric, written in 1988, was in turn inspired by a quote attributed to Andy Warhol, which appeared in the program for an exhibition of his work in Stockholm, Sweden, in 1968:
“In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes.”
I have not yet attained the age to be the surly old man yelling “GET OFF MY LAWN!”, but I am old enough to use “You know, back when I was a kid…” with my son. Back when I was a kid, I recall that this idea actually morphed into a television show. Andy Warhol himself hosted the eponymous Andy Warhol’s Fifteen Minutes, one of MTV’s first series (back when they actually played music videos! Excuse me, I digress…). The show was short-lived, comprised of 5 episodes that aired between 1985 and 1987. The most notable interview of a rising-but-still-unknown musician I remember is that of Courtney Love.
Here we are, nearly 30 and 50 years later, respectively to the quotes above, and it is equal parts amusing and shocking how prophetic those words proved to be. “Back when I was a kid”, the only voice that Joe Bag o’Donuts had was the voice emanating from the tip of a pen. Letters to his congressman, to his senator, his state representative, or to the editor of the local newspaper were the limits of his expression. The advent of the commercialized Internet in the mid-1990s changed everything.
First came America Online, then YouTube, then Facebook, and now everyone with an internet connection and a little bit of free time has a voice (including this new creation, “Take the Red Pill”). Where notoriety was a prize much more difficult to win “back when I was a kid”, now it is handed out like fun packs of Skittles. A host of celebrities – musicians, bloggers, gamers, and more – are all cashing in on their newfound fame granted by the Internet gods. Admittedly, when I glance at a list of internet celebrities, I recognize only a handful of them, and am left asking “WHO????” for the majority. I guess that is just another sign of the inevitable descent into barking “GET OFF MY LAWN!” at the neighborhood kids.
All the celebrity aspects aside, the virtually unregulated nature of the Internet provides the ultimate platform for freedom of expression and the flow of information. An unintended consequence of that free-flow is an echo chamber where the cacophony of competing voices and ideas have made the task of filtering fact from misinformation a difficult one. The proliferation of misinformation and “fake news” only serves to muddy the water and obscure the truth. And therein lies my mission: to be the sieve of enlightenment, producing Red Pills that are pure and untainted.
Hey! I see you rolling your eyes over there, people who lean left. I’m not talking about “fake news” as Trump defines and moans about (which is pretty much anything that is critical of him or his policies), but instead provably false stories masquerading as fact on less-than-mainstream sites, and often propagated as legitimate news shared via various social media outlets. I dumped Facebook some time ago, and quite honestly, have not looked back; it had reached the point where I felt compelled to cast a sideways glance at every single share that did not link back to a reputable, mainstream source.
By the way, did you know that after yesterday’s total solar eclipse, Mars will appear to be as large as the full moon? I got that information from a reliable Facebook source, so you know it’s legit.