ISN’T the internet a joyous thing? It simultaneously educates and infuriates. I’ve learned more useless information while trawling the web than I ever learned while trying to keep my eyes open in school. For instance, did you know that a cat has 32 muscles in each ear? Or that there is an average of 178 sesame seeds on a Big Mac bun? Or that, from birth, our ears and nose never stop growing? (I know my nose never did.) I mean, forget finding ‘x’, it’s the people out there counting sesame seeds that are changing the world. (I’m trying to forget the one that says that, on average, 12 newborns are given to the wrong parents daily.)
And just the other day I came across a picture of a very grumpy young toddler with the caption, “Sometimes people want to have full conversations really early in the morning and it’s okay to kill those people”. And all of a sudden my faith in humanity was restored. Because somewhere out there is a person who is completely and utterly on the same wavelength as me. I mean, I thought I had married the only one, but it turns out there are others like us. Hurrah for the universe.
The internet has helped me fit in and find kindred spirits. When I started this column almost three years ago, it was to give people a glimpse into my wacky world. But it was also a beacon to other weirdos to come out and declare themselves. I can’t be the only one who thinks pensions are for poor people and that romance ruins a good film. I can’t be the only one who’s seen more unfortunate events than Lemony Snicket. I can’t be the only Irish person who doesn’t drink alcohol… or tea or coffee. I can’t be only one with rampant rage issues.
Last week, I was at a hearing for a family case. During the lunch hour, I found a quiet corner and sat down to take some more notes and get my head in order. Knowing in advance that it was going to be a long day, I had brought a large bar of chocolate to nibble on to keep my energy levels up. Anyway, there I was, scribbling furiously and concentrating intently, when this random woman walked by, threw me a horrified look and said, “Are you going to eat all that?!”
I can’t be the only one who, when faced with that situation, wanted to pluck her eyeballs out. And all I have to do is turn to the internet – to Facebook or Twitter or some other online outlet – and, amongst all the do-gooders and moral high-grounders, I always find someone after my own heart who will completely agree with me. I mean, I can tell people the story face-to-face, and they’ll tell me how inappropriate and insulting the woman’s words were, but only on the internet will someone stand up and tell me I should have set her hair on fire.
And then there are the ones who are even bigger loopers than me. The ones who believe that Elvis is still alive and kicking and just biding his time ‘til he makes his big comeback. The ones who sit in their bedrooms and plaster their walls with posters of sparkly vampires, despite having just celebrated their fortieth birthday. The ones who believe Daniel O’Donnell is some sort of sex symbol.
No matter what type of person you are – whether you want to find out how many people choke to death on ballpoint pens each year (100, apparently), or to learn how to make your own toilet paper, or you simply want some form of reassurance that you’re not the most unhinged person in the world – the internet will welcome you with open arms. I’ve found a lovely network of nutjobs that share my scepticism, sarcasm, and general insanity, and all from the comfort of my couch.
And yes, OK, I also spend a lot of time looking at pictures of cute kittens. What? The internet doesn’t judge me! (Those Daniel O’Donnell devotees, on the other hand…)