Sunday, September 27, 2009

Fwd: Fwd: Fwd: Hey that's me!

Amusingly, I recently discovered that I have been making an (extremely peripheral) appearance in a chain e-mail that's circulating around the Internet.

We've all received these e-mails at one point or another. People send them around, they get forwarded a million times, eventually a friend of a friend sends it to your friend who thinks it's funny, and they pass it along to you... Typically they're slightly spammy collections of jokes, funny pictures, and so on, the static precursors to viral YouTube videos. Everybody has an uncle or cousin or acquaintance who loves these messages. The mechanics of how they propagate would make fine grist for a Malcolm Gladwell article.

Yesterday my dad forwarded me this deck of pictures (posted here as a google doc). [Yes, I know by posting the link I am myself transmitting this viral time-waster. Guilty as charged -- that's how these things work!]

"I am sending you this slide presentation... you are in one of the photos", he wrote.

Naturally I was skeptical. I opened it up and it was a typical set of captioned photos, primarily of silly or bizarre situations. You have to be in a certain mood to appreciate them. I took a quick glance through the deck...

Sure enough, there I am, about halfway in.* My incredulity was mistaken.

It's merely a peripheral shot where I'm in the background, and it's buried in a larger grouping of images, so it's not like I'm central or anything, but it's still weird to realize this image is out there, circulating endlessly over the internet, a tiny meme reproducing in people's e-mails and providing a sliver of a laugh each time. This fractionated, diffused 'fame' feels rather hollow.

At least it gave my dad a good chuckle!

So -- the next time you get one of those e-mails or see a post that reads, "Hey check this out", you never know -- you might be a part of it without knowing!

* It's the slide titled 'Stones Stacker', slide 23, if you're curious. It's indisputably me lurking in the back of the shot, partially cut off, wearing a Tilley Hat, oversize RayBans, and a maroon climbing shirt. I'm gawking at what you're supposed to be looking at - a guy balancing rocks. The shot was taken a few years back, during a Yonge Street Festival closure (before David Miller cancelled them). Always a bystander.