upload: Your screen might freeze like that

Funniest Home Videos becomes Funniest User Websites

Feature by Alex Cole | 23 Oct 2009
  • Regretsy.com

Right now you can get a ghost puppet made out of tampons for $6.50 US. Or a baby-sized onesie with Robert Pattinson’s coked-out mug on it. Or a roll of toilet paper that’s been knitted by hand – only $15 if you act now. Jaded internet users (those who still wistfully recall a time when the activity was optimistically called surfing) are probably unsurprised that a site like Regretsy.com exists. Regretsy gathers the most skin-crawlingly-creepy artefacts posted on Etsy.com and makes an entire blog and guilty-pleasure community out of them. It’s a pretty simple formula, after all: take one part open-forum site, add several thousand people just aching to get their embarrassing hobbies and social flubs out in the open, and let stand for a month or so. Sure enough, strange and wonderful things bubble to the surface, things best experienced when excised from their context and examined in the cold light of your blog reader. Lamebook.com is a product of the same formula, culling the cringe-worthy Facebook posts that normally disappear into your news feed and assembling them into a little freak show of status updates. While some degree of anonymity is preserved by blurring out the names, you can’t help but wonder how many steps removed you are from friending these people, or ending up there yourself. “David is going to turn his life 360 degrees,” goes one status update, and he has no idea how right he is. While websites have always delighted in the many inanities of the outside world, the fact that there are successful sites and blogs making entertainment out of other sites and blogs may be one of the key hallmarks of the internet as a cultural medium, and it is a medium generated entirely by user content. Nietzsche believed that the chief gift of the artist was not in getting a good idea, but in selecting the best ideas out of the many lesser ones. The recent trend of using the internet as a distinct entertainment medium, effectively crowdsourcing their content, may lend some credence to this, as these sites don’t need to add much to what’s already there: their genius lies in selecting the best of it.