The Internet is beautiful, in the sense that certain fads, memes, and obscure pieces of media have multiple life cycles, with each rise to relevancy enjoyed by new generations of online sleuths. Rarely are things that have been dug up true Internet "firsts."
I had to remind myself of that today, as a clip made its way to my inbox that, for a split second, I was sure had never previously been on the Internet.
But of course it had.
Five years ago, on April 13, 2008, NESW Sports posted an article titled "Michael Jordan vs Charlie and Martin Sheen, Video." The post described a show, War of the Stars, and at the end of the description were two video clips.
Scene: Shane Ryan on his computer Monday afternoon, fighting the good fight, trying to love his country despite the best efforts of technology. It's the 200-meter freestyle, one of the premier events of the swimming program, and Ryan Lochte is fighting for his second gold medal against Chinese swimmer Sun Yang. Ryan starts up the live feed with trepidation, knowing that whatever system is used for streaming the Olympics tends to freeze if more than 37 people log on at the same time. And indeed, the feed skips at first, but thankfully recovers in time for the start of the race. Lochte is third after 50 meters, and third again after 100 meters. Ryan knows it could be a dramatic finish, and he leans forward, forgetting the technical issues that have plagued him for three days.
The swimmers turn at the wall, but the moment Ryan blinks his eyes — maybe because he blinks his eyes — the feed dies. Panicked, he lets the site try to correct itself while opening a new window and restarting the whole process. In window one, the little white dots revolve in their hateful circle. In window two, an advertisement plays — to capitalism's eternal glory, the frequent ads always stream in perfect quality — before the site loads. It all leads to a coincidence that inspires Ryan's subsequent insanity, a brief fugue state in which he runs naked through the streets of Chapel Hill laughing hysterically and shouting the names of former gold medalists, a crime punishable by 30-to-life in North Carolina. Both windows recover in time to show that the race is over, and the French guy who swam out of his mind to deprive the U.S. of a 4x100 gold has won again. Ryan has pulled off the rare feat of spoiling the event for himself without actually seeing the finish, and that's why he can never run for political office. End Scene.