Perhaps sometime in the last year (or prior) you remember seeing an image on your tumblr feed or on your cousin's Facebook wall or at the end of a link by one of your favorite twitter folk an image that looks a bit like the one at right? Perhaps with a different date?
Perhaps with 365 different dates? Well probably not at once, since that particular gif only exists in a 60 MB file sitting on my personal website. If you have a good connection and want to make a page a day calendar through quick use of screen captures click on over.
Well, what I admitted to subtly there is that for a year now I've been modifying this image daily and posting it to the tumblr "Back to the Future" tag. You see last June the picture went around on the 27th, and I was annoyed at seeing it once again. In my annoyance I decided to, like a disappointed father who has discovered his young son smoking cigarettes, overload everyone with what they claim to love.
I quickly realized that annoyance in the face false information about a 30 year-old piece of pop culture (no matter how beloved) is not the best response. Annoyance and anger over trivialities is a waste of energy. But that didn't stop me from making the pictures, I doubled down and realized that a greater goal was to desensitize as many people as I could to seeing the falsehood, while hopefully disseminating enough of the pictures that even those who were spreading it out of love would learn an important lesson about trusting text written on pictures on social media -- an important lesson applicable in topics from politics to healthy eating.
Anyway, after a year none of my goals have clearly been met, but I hope that some people might be thinking twice. Besides, I've never let the lack of measurable metrics determine my success.
I'll tell you what, though. People sure do hate me for this. Mostly anonymously. But like a lot.
The actual numbers on this thing aren't that surprising: anywhere from five to five hundred responses on the average day, every couple of months it will get a few thousand. Occasionally it will latch on and get tens or hundreds of thousands. It's spread outside of my counting ability on Facebook a few times, but if it jumps the tumblr to Facebook wall that means it's viral as far as anyone is concerned. I'm fairly proud that the Snopes page on the subject features one of my images.
But the confirmation that people will occasionally forget that they had been tricked before and allow themselves to be tricked again (sadly, Mr. Bush was wrong on that point) doesn't mean this has been a complete wash (or that I'm stopping). I've learned some interesting things!
Only people too young to have seen the movie when it came out get mad at me. Everyone who has ever complained either in a reblog or direct message has been under 22 years of age. I know that I can attribute this to angst and the teenage need to define yourself as true and others as posers, but I don't know why this particular instance features on a minute detail of a movie that half the world had seen three years before they were born. Would you call someone a "cunt" for thinking that John wrote Octopus's Garden? Well, yes, obviously. But that's a bad example.
But anyway, people routinely respond with comments to the extent of "if you people were really fans of BTTF you would know this is wrong." I've cleaned up the curses in that. People sure do like to curse on the internet, especially if someone else is wrong.
I often follow the travels of each day's picture, which had led me to some surprising discoveries about things that go on on the internet. Don't get me wrong, occasionally people are clever, and that makes me happy. But then sometimes I find it reblogged by people who normally only blog while pretending to be an Archangel in the universe of Supernatural or Bronies who stay in character while having public sex chats. But even these things did not surprise me, because in the back of my mind I already knew they existed. But then it spent an hour one day passing between the blogs of 19 year old Brits who normally devote their time to posting animate GIFs of the Columbine shooters. Not necessarily praising them, or even defending them, but certainly in a spirit of enshrining them.
The internet is a strange place. Humanity is a strange species.
But I guess I can't get mad at people for liking things I don't like.
And I've got more pictures to edit.