As we are currently sucked into the pulsing bleeding heart of the holiday season, I wonder just how interconnected we have all become. In this world of instant gratification and plugging in, it seems just about everyone is in constant contact with others be it through cell phones, television, computers, gaming, emailing, text messaging, social networking, or blogging.
I look to a recent phenomenon that I call the “Horny Manatee Effect.” The origin of www.hornymanatee.com, less than a month old, is already the stuff of pop culture legend. It’s quite a fascinating world when a late night talk show host, Conan O’Brien, in a desperate attempt to breathe life into a lame gag involving mock college mascots, ad-libs a joke about a fake website called www.hornymanatee.com that then becomes the hottest site on the net. The legal department at NBC informs him that next morning that the network is now obliged to purchase that domain name because Conan said it on air. His crack team of writers and staff immediately jump on the accidentally hilarious opportunity and turn the newly purchased domain into a fully functioning mock-porn site. What’s even more opportunistic is the response of the fans and those morbidly curious on the net: they visit the site by the millions submitting their own fan art, erotic manatee stories, comic strips, or whatever else their burgeoning creativity and perverse interest in the glorious sea cow and Conan can conjure.
For another example of this “instant connection,” look no further than last week’s episode of Saturday Night Live. Andy Samberg and Justin Timberlake do a hilarious “digital video” spoof of a really bad early 90’s lame white-boy R&B song called “Dick in a Box” and by the following Monday, it’s the most downloaded entry on YouTube.com.
All of this makes a struggling novelist like me wet-dream about the day someone like Conan O’Brien utters the words, The Thief Maker. But it also makes me wonder, what is the price we pay for all this interconnectedness and instant gratification? What horrors will our overly stimulated curiosity reveal? And will we one day reach a saturation point where all of this will suddenly seem so quaint and a waste of valuable time?
We constantly feel the need to entertain or be entertained, share our thoughts, pass along the latest joke, and make sure we’re not missing out on the latest fad or funniest thing on TV last night. The water cooler at work has been replaced by email and instant messaging and the locked diaries of teenage girls have been replaced by fully interactive blogs seething with all the once private nonsense and inner turmoil that was best left unspoiled by the public eye in generations past. With so much out there, how does a writer like me find the right audience? It’s possible they could be too distracted, and my voice not unique or controversial enough to break through all the white noise. It may be another ten or twenty years from now before we can look back on this phenomenon with any kind of keen insight. For now, I blog on, with millions of others, and hope that one day lightning can strike me the way it has the randy webcam loving sea cow, and I can bask in the glory of the “Horny Manatee Effect.”
Written by David H. Schleicher