If you were, for some bizarre reason, to gather children at my knee and ask me to impart to them the hard-earned wisdom of my years, I know exactly what I would say:
“If you do something stupid on the Internet, children, never, under any circumstances, try to pass it off as a hacking. This just makes you look like someone who has done something stupid on the Internet AND who does not understand how the Internet actually works.”
I would go on to point out that seldom in history has any self-respecting hacker come dashing in and made you look stupider than you were to begin with. Sure, hackers take over news accounts from time to time and release startling tweets about assassinations and cause the stock market to fluctuate. But when it comes to private individuals, no hacker of note has ever gone waltzing in to your account and started firing off sexual innuendos, CAPITALIZED TIRADES or emailed Images You Would Just As Soon Did Not Reach The Public Eye to the more nubile of your followers.
The children would probably have wandered off by this time to seek sandwiches, but they would know I was right.
Well, if the Anthony Weiner scandal didn’t do it for the hacking excuse, the Amy’s Baking Company meltdown certainly has.
For anyone not familiar with Amy’s Baking Company, this is the most amazing non-news story that has happened all week.
In Scottsdale, Ariz., there is a restaurant so far gone that even Gordon Ramsay’s shouting cannot save it. In fact, its owners so terrified the man behind “Kitchen Nightmares” that he decided to quit working with them rather than endure them any longer.
If you haven’t been in the nooks and corners of the Web where this has been bouncing around, you are missing out. It’s brilliant and unhinged, in the way all things that go truly viral are. First, the “Kitchen Nightmares” episode itself, which features the classic lines from Amy, “We have three little boys but they’re trapped inside cat bodies. They’re cats.” It shows the owners taking the waiters’ tips, berating the customers and insisting that they do not know the kind of food they want, firing the waitstaff, shouting at Gordon Ramsey and completely refusing to accept any criticism of any kind.
Then, if viewers had any nagging fear that this insanity was staged for the cameras, the Facebook page of Amy’s Baking Company lit up with insults, as co-owners Amy and Samy inveighed against all the Web sites where the “online bullies” had given them negative reviews. Most of them are unprintable, but some highlights include: “To all of the Yelpers and Reddits: Bring it on … Come to arizona. you are weaker than my wife, and weaker than me. come to my business. say it to my face. man to man. my wife is a jewel in the desert. you are just trash. reddits and yelpers just working together to bring us down. pathetic.”
“I AM NOT STUPID ALL OF YOU ARE. YOU JUST DO NOT KNOW GOOD FOOD. IT IS NOT UNCOMMON TO RESELL THINGS WALMART DOES NOT MAKE THEIR ELECTRONICS OR TOYS SO LAY OFF!!!!”
As a general rule, if you are the one typing in all caps insisting that everyone else is wrong, they are not wrong.
The couple has been doing this for some time, but suddenly they announced that “Obviously our Facebook, YELP, Twitter and Website have been hacked. We are working with the local authorities as well as the FBI computer crimes unit to ensure this does not happen again. We did not post those horrible things. Thank You Amy&Samy.”
If so, this hacker has an awful lot of spare time and an uncanny ear for dialogue.
The Amy & Samy story is essentially a master-class in How To Lose An Argument on the Internet. The basic steps, for anyone curious:
- TYPE IN ALL CAPS
- Explain that God is on your side.
- Call the other person a rude four-letter, three-letter, five-letter, six-letter, ten-letter, or twelve-letter name.
- Explain that you are right because the other person is an idiot, while misspelling something.
- USE ERRATIC PUNCTUATION OR GRAMMAR WHILE CALLING THE OTHER PERSON STUPID ALSO DO THIS IN ALL CAPS.
- Describe your cats as “little boys in cat bodies” or “little people in cat suits” or “children, but actually cats, but really children” or “non-human children.”
- Refuse to stop arguing.
- When the backlash starts, insist that you were hacked.
They manage to do all of these, in some cases in a single post. They do everything short of comparing someone to Hitler.
Naturally, this has been blowing up online. To call this kicking the hornet’s nest would be an understatement. They poked and poked and poked the hornet’s nest while making disparaging remarks about the hornets’ mothers. No wonder there’s a swarm.
Folks, it’s not the Internet. It’s you.
UPDATE: I have constructed a handy Venn Diagram of the meltdown.