My therapist says I’m obsessed with revenge. He’ll be sorry he said that! It’s not that I’m paranoid about all of the people who are against me; I just want to make them all pay dearly.
I truly believe that the web is the greatest revenge weapon invented since the burning bag of dog poo on someone’s doorstep, and the novelty squirting flower filled with sulphuric acid.
Of course, I’m kidding about being so enamored with revenge. People just misunderstand my desire for social justice in our unjust society, world and universe, just like there's a fine line between cuddling and holding someone tightly so they can't get away.
Sometimes revenge is needed, so to be sure of hitting the target, shoot first and call whatever you hit the target. You just need to fight fire with fire, although, to be fair, the fire department does fight fire with water.
Let’s face it, there are two things about human beings. The first is that we never really grow up; we only learn how to act in public. The second is that those who don’t learn how to act in public are social outcasts and turn to causing problems for others on the internet.
Well, Halloween is here and so it's time for Trick or Treat! But why go out in the cold autumn weather and be a witch with a coat or a skeleton with a parka? You can have trick-filled fun and in front of a warm computer and not have to worry about weight gain or cavities from a huge bag of candy.
Why web revenge?
Why not? A recent social media disaster for Mountain Dew (PepsiCo) was their “Dub the Dew” crowdsource contest. Opening a “name-the-flavor” contest for their new green apple flavor must have seemed like an easy marketing coup but the soda jerks forgot that they were dealing with the opinion of the masses — the same people who exiled rapper Pitbull to a Walmart in Alaska via another social media contest gone wrong. There was also the “Fred Durst Society of the Humanities and Arts” is frontrunner for renamed Austin Waste Management Department, the Shell Oil fake site prank and Justin Bieber to appear in North Korea?
As should have been expected by any marketing executive who knows the web, the results of “Dub the Dew” were so offensive and, in the end, useless, that the entire promotion needed to be shut down. There are accusations of hijacking and other finger pointing but the truth is, only those who ran the contest are to blame for not moderating entries before they were posted.
As people voted suggestions into the top ten, the number one favorite was the thirst quenching name, “Hitler did nothing wrong.” Other names that probably won’t be used include, “Diabeetus,” “Moist Nugget,” “Cumsplosion,” “Gushing Granny” and “Fapple,” which was the cleanest of the lot! I’m kind of hoping that someone sues Mountain Dew to honor the contest contract.
Horrified image via Shutterstock
To add even more hilarity, at least in some people’s minds, pranksters even went so far as to hack into the site, adding a banner that read “Mtn Dew salutes the Israeli Mossad for demolishing 3 towers on 9/11!” and a pop-up message that resulted in an unwanted RickRolling.
There is little control over the web-using public. A few tippity-taps on the keyboard (keybagging?) and massive hatred and hurt feelings can ensue.
An apparently disgruntled employee at a nonprofit based in Melbourne posted a job ad seeking a new CEO, which remained live on the job site long enough for the organization's existing CEO to see it. In a not-so-subtle shot at her management style, the job post claimed the company was in, "desperate need" of a new CEO, and proceeded to list what the employee considers the existing CEO's faults:
"Are you single-minded, arrogant and unable to keep your staff engaged?" read one part of the ad, "Then we don't want you!"
Back stabbing image via Shutterstock
The Jim Henson Company also recently posted a crowdsourced contest to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Fraggle Rock characters. It asked for creative types to submit artwork using the FR characters and the winner would receive some money and a trip to Henson’s studios. Those who didn’t win just gave up all rights to their submitted work so the Henson Company could use the work on any product, anywhere forever. It was too late for anything but a few dozen complaints from individual designers and illustrators about the practice while the Facebook thread on the contest was filled with amateurs and wannabe creatives drooling over the chance to work for Henson.
With a little more time and a concerted effort to draw together the creative community, one person might have encouraged submissions of pornographic Fraggles artwork to amuse the judges. Maybe next time!
I’m reminded of an incident, some years ago, when my coworkers and I all registered for a WW1 flying game to play during lunch. The basic rules of play were simple: you made a move and then waited for another player to log on and make their move. There was the usual stats page with the “top pilots” among all players registered and one day I received a “challenge” from an unknown player. The invitation was labeled, “training”.
I asked my coworkers if they knew what this was and they all rolled their eyes. “This guy thinks he’s doing new players a favor by ‘training’ them how to play,” said one of my cohorts. “He’s really obnoxious.”
I looked up his stats and he was in the top ten but also had almost one-thousand games going in which he made a move every forty-nine seconds. I imagined he was some homebound nerd whose only tie to the outside world was through this site. I accepted his “challenge” and almost won but he flew off the board, which ended the game and won through points and not a kill. He then proceeded to message me about everything I had done wrong.
“Yeah,” said a fellow player when I told him of the odd message. “He’s quite full of himself.”
He challenged me again with a bit of a taunt in his invitation to another “training” mission, so I accepted, filled with my special talent to put people in their place. I devised a brilliant plan to ruin the game for this player, who was probably some wheelchair-bound kid who had nothing else to do all day but reach out to people through this game for some kind of social interaction.
This time, I set my plane up by the edge of the board and with my second move; I flew off the board and ended the game. I didn’t hear from him again until a co-worker, who knew what had happened, told me to look at the chat room. This other player was complaining about the “weird player behavior” of the game and was insisting that I be expelled from the site and banned.
Naturally, I rolled my eyes but wouldn’t leave well enough alone, excited at the snowball effect I had started, so I joined in the conversation. I accused the player of “sending inappropriate challenge messages” and as he was “stalking” other players with “challenges” I accused him of being an online sexual pervert. That match landed right in the gasoline dump.
Just to fan the flaming, I registered under a few other names and had “them” join in the conversation and attested to the belief that this poor player should have his one joy in life taken away. He tried to defend himself but there was no way he could. I accused him of “flying his plane in a suggestive manner” and following “a bit too closely”.
My co-workers joined in and I believe the poor player had a breakdown and stopped playing. Ha-ha!
Dirty tricks and vengeful treats…
If you’re on Facebook or Twitter, you get the same kind of “internuts” each and every day. When Facebook was still young, people rushed to gather friends numbers whether they knew you or not. One reason I hate Google+ is being saddled with Nosey-Nellies adding me to their circles. I like my privacy.
With Facebook, I get some people I don’t know who send me friend requests and then bug me about it every other day. Looking at their profiles, it seems they are “friend collectors”, vying to have the most connections for some odd reason, or they are spammers just waiting to release a well-worded message, asking me to join their pyramid scam, buy a timeshare or look at their nude photos. When they get too annoying, I just approve their friend request and post “nice to see you’re out of prison for those paedophile charges!” Then I unfriend them and just assume the damage has been done.
If you’re on Twitter, you’ve no doubt received one or eighteen messages about how someone is “writing bad things about you” on the internet. Usually it’s someone whose account has been hacked but sometimes it isn’t because people do write bad things about me on the web, like that poor guy who can’t play the flying game ever again. When it isn’t, I take the URL they sent, run it through bit.ly or another URL shortener and just reply with the same warning… twenty times a day. Sure, it’s usually the owner’s fault, being hacked by those who send out those spam warnings but in a way they are guilty for having weak passwords of “1234” or “password.”
Famous hoaxes and pranks
A recent web punk was beautifully planned when Fiat pulled a fast one on their archrival Volkswagen. Fiat figured out when the Google Maps street view team would be driving by to photograph the World Wide Volkswagen HQ. They quickly and strategically placed a red Fiat on their front door.
A fake news story about Samsung’s recent billion-dollar court case loss to Apple had this to say… Samsung pays Apple $1 Billion sending 30 trucks full of 5 cent coins.
One of my best web punks was releasing a story about Myspace’s Tom actually being dead for several years and his family suing the site owners, FOX News Corp, to have the Tom messages ceased because every time the family saw one, it caused emotional distress. It took that little piece of viral keybagging exactly 24 hours to get back to me via an unconnected source. The ridiculousness of the entire situation was that Tom was no longer involved in MySpace, albeit being everyone’s first friend upon signing up with MySpace. He might as well have been dead or at least a cartoon of Waldo!
If you can't think up a good fake story to spread around, try fakeawish.com. Just pick a celebrity, choose a pre-formatted story of horror and disgust and then just post it on the internet! See how long it takes for some moron to send it back or post it on Facebook as if it were a real story!
Don’t go TOO far!
Well, maybe I’m not the one to be the barometer of how much is too much, but there is a line and usually it’s a legal one. For instance, an Arkansas teenager thought it would be clever to send a text to a random number saying, “I hid the body… now what?"
Unfortunately, the random number the Arkansas teen picked to text happened to be a homicide police detective's cell number. Luckily for the 15-year-old girl, she got away with just a warning; but in Texas, Fort Worth detectives are taking this trend seriously.
Handcuffs image via Shutterstock
There have been four reported cases in three weeks that have all been found to be “Hid the Body” pranks after pointless investigations were performed. Detectives are irritated that precious time is being taken away from real cases to look into pranks. Fort Worth police say they will be arresting and charging future pranksters with Class A misdemeanors that could land them up to a year in prison. I guess if you found someone’s lost cell phone or borrowed a cell phone left on a table while the owner went to the bathroom and quickly texted a “Hid the Body” message, they might go to jail. Ha-ha!
Pawngo.com had a little Butterfinger prank that didn’t exactly go as they had hoped, social media is wide open for all sorts of trickery but you just never know how people will react.
Sure, there are these little pranks you can pull on fellow office workers but it’s the world wide web that offers the best revenge on a society gone awry. Too many people test the boundaries of annoying others on the internet because the lack of face-to-face etiquette lets those with a lack of social skills be heard in society. Web revenge is just a way of correcting their manners and having some fun at it, too! If you are too meek to punk someone on the web, you can always rely on the Prank Ninja!
The greatest social media prank of all times has to go to Orson Welles for his Halloween 1938 radio broadcast of War of the Worlds. A hard act to follow.
Of course, considering that a week after Halloween is the 2012 U.S. presidential election. If ever there was a reason for web pranking and hurtful tricks, this is the time because the next four years will be some politician’s time to punk us!
Have you web punked someone? Fess up and tell us what you did and how you did it in the comments!
Featured image/thumbnail, Halloween image via Shutterstock