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

Well, hello again, Internet.

It’s been a while, hasn’t it? I apologize for that.

Yes, yes, I know: we had an arrangement. You would be generally terrible, and I would tell the world about your general terribleness. It was a good gig, probably, maybe, for at least one of us. But lately, I’ve been failing to hold up my end of the bargain, while you (I assume) have continued to be terrible.

And…I’m sorry. I am. It’s just…I needed some space. I had to flush the gunk out of my soul. When you stare into the Interwebz, eventually the Interwebz stare into you.

I was just hoping that maybe—just maybe—if you didn’t have me as a moral crutch anymore, you would finally get your act together. That if your flesh were destroyed your spirit might be saved. Quixotic of me, I know. But I just had to give it a shot.

So let’s see if it worked. Let’s see what happened in my absence…


Oh, my.

Really, Internet? Really?

I think I need another vacation. Sigh.

Well, whatever. I have a job to do. So here’s some of what we missed during my break:

1. Duke University is apparently more than just a basketball program?

I guess Duke also offers undergraduate degrees? And they give their incoming freshman classes recommended reading lists? Sorry, I just had no idea about this. I’m still catching up. (Understand, I went to the U of Nebraska, and that place is pretty much just a football stadium and a single computer with Wikipedia bookmarked.)

But anyway, Duke’s academics made a rare news appearance recently because some student posted on Facebook that he wasn’t going to do the recommended reading.

Wait, that’s news? How is that news? USA Today, I’ve been both an English major and an English teacher, and trust me: nobody ever does the reading. Books exist so we can impress each other by pretending to have read them, not so we can actually read them. I still have no idea whether Hamlet comes down on the side of “being” or “not-to-being.”

Oh, wait, I see: it was national news because he was a Christian and was actually trying to apply his faith to the real world. The book is Allison Bechdel’s graphic novel Fun Home, and it features some nudity, and Jesus said some stuff about “looking on a woman lustfully.” I realize that a lot of people (including, for whatever it’s worth, me) don’t agree with this student’s interpretation, but it’s not like we’re talking about an esoteric understanding of an obscure passage. News this ain’t.

I guess we’re just through the looking-glass, into the brave new world where USA Today writes about evangelical Christians in the same paternalistic tones that National Geographic used to use to describe African tribes back in the ’50s. Personally, I’m looking forward to the photo spreads of us gaping bemusedly at iPhones.

2. Science fiction fans are still pretending that science fiction matters.

The Hugo Awards were a hot mess this year, thanks mainly to the Internet’s unique ability to convince people that anything and everything should be a moral crusade. A group known as the Sad Puppies managed to wield undue influence on the nominating process by organizing around the idea that the science fiction award had become too political, which makes me wonder if they had any idea what the words “science fiction” or “award” mean.

But anyway, as we all know, when something gets “too political,” the only solution is to divide into warring factions and then get in a lot of arguments about it on the Internet, which is exactly what happened, until the Sad Puppies’ opponents (hereafter referred to as “Joyful Kittens”) chose to vote “No Award” in every category with Puppy nomination domination (a record-shattering five). The result was a long list of awards that nobody won, and both sides immediately took to their blogs claiming victory. To use a playground metaphor, they all took their balls and went home, then immediately texted their friends about their amazing dodgeball prowess.

Who knew that people who spend their time reading books about spaceships would turn out to be childish? I’m just glad I write books about weight-loss drugs that turn people into Freudian murder-zombies (Ophelia, Alive, coming 2016!), and not silly stuff.

3. A shockingly huge number of men think that if they throw money at the Internet, it will magically provide them with an extramarital affair.

Hackers recently broke into the databases of Ashley Madison, a dating site for people looking to have extramarital affairs, which among other things makes me wonder: why in the world was there such a thing as a dating site for people looking to have extramarital affairs?

Seriously, I’m not surprised by the fact that there are tons of people looking to have affairs; I’m surprised to learn that there’s a site specifically for that. This is like when your grandma calls you to ask, “Now how do I get to that part of the Internets where they keep the games, again?” except it’s your dad, and he’s talking into the mouse like Scotty, saying, “Hello, computer. Make me have an affair, please.” I know that tons of people suck at marriage, but are there really that many who suck that hard at basic human connection? Here’s how you have an affair, guys:

  1. Don’t
  2. But, I mean, if you really, really have to,
  3. Just go somewhere where you can meet people
  4. Find someone of the opposite sex
  5. Say “hi”
  6. See where it goes from there
  7. Or at least meet someone on freakin’ Facebook

Ashley Madison makes no sense. Seriously, how is an affair-oriented personals site a thing? Obviously, the big news is that famous evangelical Josh Duggar was among the millions in the data dump, even if it only meant impotently flailing around on a personals site with apparently zero real women.

4. Donald Trump is apparently still a thing?

I was really hoping that if I went to sleep for a month, he’d go away, but here we are.

Strictly speaking, that isn’t Internet-culture-related, I guess, but he does seem to have hired YouTube commenters as his head speechwriters, so there’s that, I guess.