Every Thursday in LOL Interwebz, Luke T. Harrington explores the quirks and foibles of Internet culture from a Gospel perspective.

We all love KFC. The grease, the poorly maintained restrooms, the deep shame we all feel before, during, and after we eat there — it’s an American institution, and it’s the place to go to punish yourself when your self-esteem is low. You can eat an entire bucket of deep-fried meat, or glue-like mashed potatoes and gravy, or both of those things plus some corn and cheese mushed together in a sadness bowl — it’s a great way to move your mood from “depressed about your life” to “despairing for the entire human race.”

But there’s still one problem with it.

How are you supposed to get offended by stuff on the Internet while you eat fried chicken? Don’t roll your eyes; this is a serious concern. We all take our smartphones to lunch with us, and we all stare at them the whole time we’re eating. What’s the alternative, going with other people and talking to them? Please. If a real person offends you, you have to tell them politely, or ignore it, or challenge them to a round of bareknuckle fisticuffs. Why in the world would we engage with real people when there are generic avatars who can’t punch us inside our phones?

The only problem, obviously, is that when you eat fried chicken your fingers get greasy, and no one wants to touch their $600 Flappy Bird machines with greasy fingers. Greasy phones? What is this, the Middle Ages? Did we lose a war, or something? How long will such injustice be allowed to continue?

No longer, friends!

Allow me to introduce you to the KFC Tray Typer! Introduced in Germany back in May, the Tray Typer replaces the traditional paper tray liners that we’re all vaguely aware of but can’t imagine why they exist, other than to advertise food that we’ve already paid for. The Tray Typer, however, is no such dull ad for already purchased food: it’s a paper-thin, disposable Bluetooth keyboard that syncs wirelessly with your phone and allows you to type “ur retarted” and “#notallmen” without greasing up your pocket all-the-information-in-the-world-but-who-cares-when-I-can-argue-with-strangers device.

Not since Prometheus stole fire from the gods have we had such awesome power at our fingertips. The choice between a depressing lunch by yourself and a not-greasy phone is no more. The choice between hating yourself and hating strangers is over. In the world of the KFC Tray Typer, anything is possible.

Now, to be clear, I’ve not held this miraculous device in my own hands. I would fain dare to wield its awesome power, but alas, it was a limited-time promotion that only graced new locations in Germany with its presence back in May. When manna from heaven falls, friends, it only falls in the remotest of places. Just like that Pizza Hut pizza with cheeseburgers in the crust and that McDonald’s burger that mocked starving Africans, the best fast food gimmicks are available only across the seas. I sometimes wonder what sin we as Americans committed that we’ll have to settle for ten different variations on cheese-stuffed crust and maybe an Angus burger or two, but perhaps such mysteries are not for mere mortals to gaze upon.

And yet, other mysteries perplex me still. Like how people were supposed to scroll or switch apps from a paper keyboard (or whether the device had such a mechanism at all, since it seems kind of pointless without it). Or if you split the ticket with a friend, which one of you got to use the keyboard.

I know what you’re thinking: Wouldn’t you just talk to your friend? Oh, my naïve child, of course you wouldn’t. If the people we were with were worth talking to, we wouldn’t need smartphones. I’m sure you’ve noticed by now that the average person you meet out in meatspace is a dull and uninteresting sort of bloke whose life and interests are different from yours and who often disagrees with your opinions — and when a real person disagrees with you, it’s shockingly difficult to brush him off with obscenities.

That’s why we invented social media, obviously — so we could find the people who agree with us about everything and only interact with them ever. Just like we can gorge ourselves on endless buckets of chicken, we can gorge ourselves on people we like and views we agree with. After all, what is gluttony without pride (and maybe side orders of sloth and wrath)?

A new world is dawning, friends. A new world of ungreasy cell phones and impervious echo chambers. A world of endless fried meat and a fully customizable menu of viewpoints. Finally, you can Have It Your Way.

No, wait. That’s Burger King.

Whatever. My point still stands.


1 Comment

  1. Hah, only in Germany. Here in the USA KFC is pretty ghetto, and barely even has places to sit down that are comfortable. Ever since they merged with taco bell, that is.

    The thing is though, I don’t interact with people who radically disagree with me now offline. There’s a tacit assumption that we don’t discuss those kinds of issues in public. As if media is the only way we get enough distance to do so, to avoid the fact that we really, really disagree. I wouldn’t bother to comment on this if you and I knew each other in real life, and to be blunt I’d probably not like you guys enough to keep you as friends, and vice versa. We already live in a bubble-ironically social media is what breaks it, not maintains it.

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