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It was a joke. No really, I was kidding the whole way through. You won't believe me, but that does not surprise me in the least. No one really believes me when I say I wasn't serious, since so many people are about these things. To those who might not have gotten serious about it and who view the entire debacle as a silly idiocy on the part of so many of my generation, I hope you read this and take it, of all the things I've said, as a warning and a call to some sort of action over the matter. I apologize. I didn't mean for it to go this far.

The idea was simple, it seemed that way at first at the very least. Start a website devoted to the internet and let the levels of meta-humor rise. I'd seen it done, I read Fark every day and Something Awful. The innovation was that it would be a series of short internet broadcasts as well as the written satire. The site opened and traffic came in. People posted jokes, my friends wrote cute articles and everything went great. We started getting fans, we wrote things to them and featured them in videos and they loved us for it. We kept going, never slowing down, we held meetings and parties with the fans. Then Raj had an idea, we tell them to do silly things and see how many do it, have them send in videos. I thought it would be hilarious. We'd put up twenty videos a week of people doing our foolish bidding.

We were inundated by videos. We told people to put on funny hats and they put on funny hats. We told people to scare puppies and tape their reactions and they did. Shouting things at former teachers, staging kidnappings, tickling small animals. Every week we thought of something and every week we got upwards of a gigabyte of videos. Basically being a jackass for the entertainment of others is simply a part of human nature, I supposed then that some people just wanted attention. A lot of people, we found out, like to wear funny hats without clothing on.

But then I stepped it up. I told them to insult foreign dignitaries and we saw Gordon Brown mooned and Wen Jaibao flipped the bird. I told them to reject their religion to the face of their priest and I swear I've never seen a rabbi turn that shade of red before. The last joke I made was an extension of the last. We had a million viewers at that point and when they heard me say it, they did it. I told them to worship me. I had toppled their gods and now I was one.

Nothing was the same from then on. When we started getting videos of people bowing to me, crying out my name in supplication, praying to me. We posted the funniest/most devout ones. Before the week was out we had another get together, we'd planned it for weeks. It would be similar to a revival and would promote the current content.

Can I hear you shout?! Shout it out for me:
PRAISE THE INTERTUBES!

Response: Praise the Intertubes.

I don't hear you.

Response: PRAISE THE INTERTUBES!

I STILL DON'T HEAR YOU!!

Response: PRAISE THE INTERTUBES!!!!

It was crazy. We thought it was hilarious, but they didn't, they were in love. We called for evangelionism, to spread the word of the internet. We asked people for meta-prayers and watched them worship a photoshopped picture of me with a halo about my head. We started a church. Cults come and go, but none had started before that were so totally devoted to Youtube videos and internet idiocy. We kept posting but the prayers kept pouring in. My weekly videos had turned into addresses to the flock. Donations poured in faster than ever. We hired a few programmers and we got them to write us a program to allow people to view our video streaming onto their desktop. It would be an icon icon. It was meta, ergo it was funny and good. We told our fans, now fanatics, to place the icon at the center of their desktop and their world.

Soon we got more followers. We bought advertisement on Google and Fark and leeched from them readers and turned them into followers. We convinced hundreds every day to give up their mundane religion for the new one, our religion, and everyone complied regularly. It was madness. It soon reached its fever pitch. We began getting hatemail from religious groups. Apparently numerous churches had been divested of nearly all of their youngest members, in as rude a way as possible. We saw so many come into our group that we started getting calls to bring down our site from FCC officials. We paid for more advertising and we showed our followers what the government wanted to do to us. They responded. They lobbied, they called congress, they pushed back. The FCC shut up within a week.

We had power. It was a silly and strange thing. We ordered supplication and received it. We asked for devoutness and were given it freely. We asked for belief and they came to us asking what we wanted them to believe. They came for guidance, they came for something to give their lives to and we kindly accepted them. I still have no idea why it was so easy to do, if that says something scary about human nature I'm still too shocked by it all to explore here.

Then the tragedy began. Her name was Kim. She was one of the first devotees and had been a groupie at so many meetings and parties that we asked her to hang out with us. We discovered her eager devotion as she slowly became used to the idea of hanging out with her gods. I realized that something was different about her. She was smarter than most of the flock and quickly became one of the preachers. But she believed it all. She stood before crowds of people who only leave their computers to hear us speak and she preached to the choir. She brought friends with her. We took vacations while they stamped across the nation. And one day, sipping Maitais on the beach with Raj, I noticed him staring at his Blackberry. This wasn't unusual, Raj was always looking at that thing, but his expression was shock.

"What's up?" I said, absently as if I cared more for the ocean's reply than his.

"Kim's dead," he intoned. I'd never heard someone do it before, but he managed to intone his response. It fell on me like brick of lead. I couldn't speak, so he eventually drew a breath and continued, "Tuber priestess shot at rally by fundamentalist Christian in Biloxi. Rallying Tube-devotees responded violently. They seized the gunman before he was able to fire again and beat him to death with computer peripheries. The crowd began chanting slogans and began ransacking the park they were in. Several dozen members of their congregation have been charged with arson after starting a fire in a near by Southern Baptist Church. Police say that they are investigating the arsonists and any connections they have with the founders of the Tubing Cult."

He stopped and looked at me. His expression was pained. "What have we done Mike? What in the world have we let loose on the world?"

"It's not our fault, Raj," I de-emphasized, "we can't be held responsible for this."

Raj became angry with me at this point, I was to blame and he was to put me in my place. "Not responsible?! OF COURSE you are responsible you idiot! You started this, you told them to start this. THIS. IS. ON. YOUR. HEAD."

I didn't know how to respond. I'm an internet junkie, I've lived there since I learned to write. Everything and everyone on it was just a name to me, up to that point. Responsibility is for people who are at least 5 years older than I am, and it's always been that way. But now everything bright and happy, every silly little diversion that the internet had afforded me was set in sharp relief like some elder god with a skin condition. Everything was ugly and wrong; all that I'd done was idiotic and childish. Everything was real.

The last thing Raj ever said to me, to my face or my computer monitor, was a response to my plaintive call for help. "What are we going to do?"

"'We'? There is no 'we' here, a 'we' there is not. You will decide what you are going to do and you will decide it alone." And with that he stood and left, maitai unfinished, the beach empty.

So that's it, that's how it all started and this is my response to Raj. I hope I hear from him again one day. I want it all to end. It was a joke. It was foolishness. It's not real. The internet will not save you and it will not provide for you. It is not supernatural and it will not deliver unto you great rewards. Stop worshiping people who say funny things on websites. Don't pray to videos on the internet for the packet reception of your immortal soul.

It's not too late:

REJECT FALSE ICONS!

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