I’m pretty sure anyone who has ever lived has dreamed of living in a fictional world, we’re all checking wardrobes to see if they lead to Narnia. You might want a simpler life in the Shire, dream of receiving that Hogwarts letter, waiting for that wrrrr of the TARDIS appearing on your front lawn, tapping your foot, holding out for NASA to discover the Prothean cache on Mars that you know, deep down in your brain’s heart, is there.
I don’t think this is something we get over either, it’s not a childhood fancy that we outgrow. If anything, our fantasies of other worlds just become more pedestrian. What you’d do with all that money if you won the lottery or powerball. How your life would be immeasurably better if your team completed that pass or made that touch down… or that the team that you really, truly hate to the depths of your being lost. Your country would be saved if your candidate won whatever election. What it could have been if that TV show you cherished wasn’t cancelled. We dream about being an amoral captain of industry from an Ayn Rand novel, or at least letting a boss or client know what we really think. I’ll take the childhood fantasies any day over those. They seem more achievable, and those dreams rarely end happily when they do come true. Lottery winners tend to end up worse off and even more miserable, your team’s win makes the next season’s loss more embarrassing, no politician will ever be the Savior you want them to be, that TV show just won’t be as good as it used to be when Netflix picks it up and living your life like an Ayn Rand novel is the quickest shortcut to being miserable that I can think of.
One of my wish-fulfillment scenarios when I was young (I’ll leave out the more embarrassing ones, mostly involving Middle Earth and the Wheel of Time, this one I had the good sense to keep private) was finding some two way portal to Steven Brust’s Dragaera. This seemed feasible, as portals like that existed over there, Easterners clearly came from earth and the main character was narrating to a person who was obviously from this world. Once there, despite being a young, weak Easterner, I’d be able to make a fortune importing soda (specifically, Simply Soda from Costco), which I’d say was some form of brandy which the characters in the book enjoyed. I obviously didn’t have the faintest clue what brandy really was, but in my defense, Vlad stated many times that the Dragaerans had no idea either. I’d make my fortune, sell primarily to Morrolan, buy a title in the Jhereg and spend my time in Castle Black, what could be better?
I’m glad I didn’t share these fantasies of mine too widely, not that my parents would have thought much of it but those were the days of Columbine when everyone was worried about a child not being able to separate fantasy from reality. But I think one of the side effects of living in a fallen world like this is wishing, within the limited scope of our minds, for something better that we know is out there.
These days I don’t dream about selling HFCS non-alcoholic brandy to elvin lords or that Middle-Earth may be an actual pre-history. I tried to place my hopes in politics for a time but was left sorely disappointed from the experience. If anything, I’d like our world to more closely mirror Clickhole.
Clickhole is the Onion’s response to the ‘viral media’ phenominem capitalized on by familiar websites like BuzzFeed and UpWorthy. The junk food of internet content, you can digest it quickly and it’s fun but you feel gross afterwards. When Clickhole first arrived I didn’t think much of it. I thought it was a clever idea, but surely it wasn’t sustainable, it’d peter off after a year or so. I was wrong, Clickhole may very well be the extension of John Hodgman’s unparralled trilogy of complete world knowledge, ‘The Areas of my Expertise’ ‘More Information than you Require’ and ‘That is All’. It marries the mundane to the absurd. It dials everything to eleven while cutting it down at the same time.
Are you exasperated with seeing yet another post or tweet about ‘how to treat introverts‘ as if they are some sort of magical, delicate unicorn that must be carefully groomed and managed? Clickhole has that covered. But you’re special, you like being alone AND you like having friends (like a wretched party person)? Clickhole has that covered. I think I’d actually enjoy football if it existed here like it does in the Clickhole reality. Even politics get better in the Clickhole world.
What Clickhole does isn’t easy. It’s not just taking a trivial aspect of life and giving it a veneer of hyperbole. It takes the mundane and addresses it as mysterious, interesting. Thanks to Clickhole my roommate and I refer to each other as ‘House Stranger‘ and are much better off for it. Sure, there are times when it has content that might as well be an actual blog post by someone you might know, but its alternate reality proves the quote I’ve dubbed ‘Hodgman’s Law’: “Truth may be stranger than fiction, goes the old saw, but it is never as strange as lies. (Or, for that matter, as true.)”
Clickhole essentially just takes the mundane things that we obsess over and build idols out of and cuts them down not by making straw men out of it, but by making it surreal. By giving it a level of draw that obsession over the handling of introverts or local colloquialisms never could. It’s not designed to make us feel special or different, it’s set up to cut that down and just make everything plain weird. And just like how I can’t help but lose myself in the world of Hodgman’s invented facts whenever I open his books or listen to the audio tapes (and somehow always actually end up learning something), I think that taking in that absurd, weird world that Clickhole gives us is a much better use of our imaginative brainpower than what we’d do with half a billion dollars from guessing some numbers.