I feel I have to confess something about Cracked.com. I really like them a lot. I don’t mean that I’m embarrassed to say I like them. No, lots of people like them, and I’m one of them. But I’m one of those people who likes them a lot. I have not had the pleasure of meeting anyone on their team personally, so it’s all just conjecture, but the version of them that I’ve created in my head is excellent.
They appear to be a team of creative people making a platform together that can help them support and springboard their own creativity–of course, with the help of viral-marketing, business shenanigans aplenty… It’s the heart, which I might have mostly made up in my mind, that counts. Regardless, if you do follow along with the stuff the Cracked people are doing, you get a sense that there is a camaraderie in the group and that many (mostly dirty) jokes are born there. Notes from the Internet Apocalypse By Wayne Gladstone appears to be one of those things. So, at this point I might just be biased, but it was delightful (even if I didn’t laugh very much, I’ll explain later).
Okay, so about the book. It’s written kind of like the journal of a person experiencing the world that just lost the internet. Well, he actually just says that’s what it is. I add ‘kind of’ because I can’t ever imagine writing actual dialogue in a journal. It was published, sort of, in 2011 on Cracked.com, under a series titled ‘If The Internet Suddenly Disappeared’. It doesn’t have the same kind of ring to it. Regardless, the format for a book is fitting: Day one, Day two, Day Seven. And it keeps nuisance details from being a big deal in the beginning. It gets right into the big ‘what if’ questions.
Our hero is Gladstone himself–who, for reasons that will hopefully come to me in a dream, should have left his first name off the cover. He lives in a bottle of brown liquor in New York City. He goes in search of the missing internet with his “internet friends” Tobey and Oz, the Australian cam-girl.
The streets are full of ‘internet zombies’, people who are so feigning for the internet and so in need of a fix that they torture cats into doing hilarious things. Other websites have persisted in the form of secret meetings or public rallies. Fundamentalist Christians have also lost their final threads of rationality and there’s something like a peaceful chaos in New York City.
As the characters progress, I frequently found myself hearing Dave, John and Amy’s voice in the world of Idiocracy. Which isn’t really a complaint, and maybe shouldn’t be too surprising. There are plenty of questions about the meaning of the Internet in our lives. And, there are even more questions about how that meaning rubs up against us in the case of loss, denial, friendship, love and betrayal. It’s all really quite good.
But here’s the thing, as I said before, I didn’t really laugh that much. That also is not really a complaint. Gladstone’s writings on Cracked are often the same way: Compelling, more than amusing. Five Ways it’s Perfectly Fine to Harshly Judge Someone. The 4 Worst Things We Do Immediately After Falling in Love. 30 Harrowing Days in Rehab for Facebook Addiction. 5 Things That Are Totally Unrelated to Hot, Hot Lesbian Sex. Gladstone seems like a comedy writer who’s only going for funny cause people won’t listen to his wisdom without it. I’m into it, and that’s what Notes from the Internet Apocalypse is like.
I didn’t read the serialized version of this story when it was originally put online. I just don’t really pay much attention to fiction writing outside of a ‘traditional book’ (read, Kindle App) environment. It moved quickly enough to keep me turning pages. And although the word-images are slapstick, if that is a thing in literature, the suggestions are insightful. It succeeded at making me think. I intend to read it again soon.