Every Thursday in LOL Interwebz, Luke T. Harrington explored the quirks and foibles of internet culture from a Gospel perspective.
The column is concluding this week. Luke offers this final farewell:
Earlier this month, we all bore witness to the birth of a Twitter legend.
Marcus Lepage, like countless other Twitter users like him, had posted a single tweet back in 2009 and then disappeared. For years, his account lay fallow with nothing more than a single post: “Going to sleep.” Like a seed lying in the ground or a body lying in an unmarked grave, it looked wholly unremarkable.
And so, I go forth to scrawl Jesus-jukes on the restroom walls in the far corners of the world.And then, seven years later—just a couple of weeks ago—it came roaring back to life with a second, perfect follow-up tweet: “F**k, I slept in.”
The Internet went nuts. In a few short hours, nearly every Internet news service had picked up the story, and Lepage shot from zero to 10,000 followers. The whole world was in awe of the mysterious stranger’s dedication to such a dumb, obvious, perfect joke.
It wasn’t the best joke in history. It barely ranked above something you’d see on a restroom wall. And yet…you couldn’t deny that it was funny.
And then, like all heroes, he rode off into the sunset. “Long day!” he posted, later that evening. “Going back to sleep.”
And we were left alone once more, wondering if our hero would ever return to us.
Years ago, around the same time Lepage was posting his first legendary tweet, I had nothing other than a vague sense that I ought to be writing. I had done a bit of work as a film critic, but after sitting through 1,000 mediocre movies, you start to die inside a little. (I have no idea how career film critics do it.) Then, all at once, in a flash of inspiration, I got an idea for a psychological horror novel. I pushed myself through a draft, and then a second draft. I showed what I’d written to some friends. They all told me it sucked, because it did. A couple of them never talked to me again, which may or may not have been a coincidence.
I left it sitting for years.
I ignored the pull to write for a while, in part because I was busy with a teaching career. But when that went off the rails and I found myself stuck at home with a new baby, I could no longer silence the call to use the gifts I had been given.
I still had no idea what I really wanted to write, so I dabbled in everything. I picked up my novel, Ophelia, Alive, again; I blogged about religion some; I successfully pitched a couple of pieces to Cracked. I was, and am, probably thoroughly unmarketable as a writer—too coarse for theological journals, but a little too sophisticated for restroom walls. (A tiny bit.) Early successes aside, it was hard to find a home.
And then I stumbled into the arms of Christ and Pop Culture.
I’d be lying if I said I sent this site my résumé on anything other than a whim. I noticed they were looking for writers, and I had read a bit of their stuff and thought it was pretty good. But from the moment I’ve arrived here, I’ve felt like I was part of a family, one built on the sort of love for all mankind that Christ commanded. I’ve not only found a family that I’ve wanted to serve, but one that has invested in me relentlessly.
Giving me this column was, no doubt, a pretty big risk for the editors here, and one for which I’ll be eternally grateful. It’s been invaluable to me as sandbox in which to test out various approaches to thinking and writing, and as a platform through which to connect with readers who share my own love for disposable pop culture, big philosophical questions, and sophisticated butt jokes. Where else could I have looked at the question of free will through the lens of a racist Twitterbot, or the Prayer of St. Francis by way of political memes? What other site would have let me ponder the nature of virtue by way of McDonald’s side dishes, or the nature of the Atonement via Twitter-shaming?
This column, along with this site, has been a constant reminder to me that there is no divide between the sacred and the secular—that every corner of creation cries out for redemption and will be redeemed. That the cleansing waters of baptism wait in the font for everyone—not just the uptight old ladies in the front row, but also the guy giggling as he tweets an oblique sex joke. That there is hope even for the people who write silly things on restroom walls.
But like my new hero Marcus Lepage, it’s time for me to ride into the sunset. Ophelia, Alive got picked up by a publisher, and promoting it is likely to be a full-time job. (I’ll be at the Texas Frightmare horror convention to push the book this weekend—follow me on Twitter for live coverage.) In addition, I’ve been offered a biweekly column over at Christianity Today, and that’s just too big of an opportunity to pass up.
It’s fitting to end the column in April, since it launched almost exactly two years ago, in April of 2014. I’m eternally grateful for your readership over the course of those two years, and I can only hope that my words have been redeemed to bring a bit of truth and beauty to the world. But if I’ve learned anything from writing about the Internet for so long, it’s that all can be redeemed—that even the dumbest Twitter joke can blow up and bring joy to thousands, even if only for a moment.
And so, I go forth to scrawl Jesus-jukes on the restroom walls in the far corners of the world. I’m sure we’ll see each other again, on whatever the big, new, trendy social network is in a couple of years, or in the salt mines after the Great Robot Uprising.
And if we don’t meet in this age, surely we’ll meet in the age to come.
Image by Greyerbaby at Pixabay.