(This essay is one in a series of posts reviewing my favorite websites. Even though I don’t spend a lot of time surfing the Internet, I do have a file on my computer entitled “Random Cool Stuff.” Within that file are bookmarked Internet sites, an odd collection of webpages, among the millions of possibilities that tickled my fancy, intrigued me, or led me in a whole new direction.)
If I had to personify America, I’d imagine her as one of those young, twenty-something hipsters–a little brash, a little in your face, but often off-the-chart innovative. I know that the only reason our country can act out this hipster mentality is because long ago, around this time, our forefathers (with some strong women backing them up), decided to wrest our freedom from the royal tyrants across the pond. This eventually led way to the formation, a few years later, of the Bill of Rights, and the First Amendment granting all Americans the freedom of speech, which keeps our country cool, creative, and often LOUD.
Whereas frequently our freedom of speech is used for the general good, sometimes it can be practiced in ways that are crude, crazy, and ridiculous. But Americans being Americans can even find a way to capitalize on some of the worst abuses of our freedom of speech and make it entertaining as demonstrated by the websites Passive-Aggressive Notes and Lamebook.
I want to say right off the bat that these two websites are not for everyone. The entries are often riddled with profanity, bathroom humor, and highly inappropriate and graphic sexual content. If you are easily offended, I suggest you stop reading right now and check out some of my other essays that cover much more highbrow topics.
That said, I am going to go out on a confessional limb here and admit that I love the websites Passive-Aggressive Notes and Lamebook. Despite the coarse humor and offensive language, there are often clever posts that make me laugh aloud and keep me coming back for more.
Passive-Aggressive Notes is a site completely devoted to posting photos of notes, passive-aggressive or otherwise humorous, submitted by online viewers.
Brainchild of Kerry Miller, the idea of Passive-Aggressive Notes was dreamed up during a bad first date. “This guy was yammering on about his crazy roommate who had started leaving annoying notes everywhere,” said Miller. Miller could relate, having three roommates of her own.
“I said something sarcastic like, ‘Yeah, I should start taking pictures of them and start a blog about it. Now that’d be really passive-aggressive.” That evening she went home and that’s exactly what she did. Four years later, she’s still at it. She even published a book of her best submissions entitled, Passive Aggressive Notes: Painfully Polite and Hilariously Hostile Writings. On the cover is a photo of a note that reads: “dear milk-theif, that was breast milk!” (Typo theirs.)
I am especially fond of the notes written by children. The one below reminds me of a note my daughter Emma wrote to me when she was around five-years-old. She didn’t say she was going to run away, she said IF she ran away I would be sad. There was an illustration of me standing on the porch, tears running down my face and arms open saying, “Don’t run away, Emma.” Emma, in the drawing, is determinedly stomping away with her suitcase in hand. It only enraged my daughter more that upon receiving her pitiful little note, I started to laugh.
It was funny to discover an entry from my hometown recently posted on Passive-Aggressive Notes. This note is scrawled on the bathroom door at a local deli. Perhaps City Council should consider building some public restrooms.
The Passive-Aggressive Notes website led me Lamebook (www.lamebook.com), which describes itself as the “funniest and lamest of Facebook.”
Lamebook was created in 2009 by Texas-based graphic designers Jonathan Standerfer and Matthew Genitempo. They describe their website as “a fun humor blog that allows us to all share and marvel at the funny, ridiculous, and outright crazy posts that can be found on your favorite social networking site.”
But apparently, Facebook, the real social network that Lamebook is parodied after and where most of the reader-generated submissions come from, is not amused. According to a November 2010 Huffington Post article, Facebook has threatened Lamebook with legal action if they don’t change their name and user interface. But Lamebook founders Standefer and Genitempo are not backing down. They have preemptively filed a suit, and on their site ask readers to donate money toward their legal cost. They state that Lamebook is an obvious parody and therefore protected by the First Amendment.
Mostly Lamebook is just funny, although I will admit that I have to skip reading about 75 percent of the content because it is too sexual or coarse. But I just can’t help checking in once and a while when I am feeling a little out of sorts, or at odds with the world. It’s like really bad reality television. There’s a certain satisfaction in realizing that you are not as crazy as that big-haired housewife from New Jersey who just turned over a table in a restaurant. Like I said, I just can’t help myself.
God Bless America and our amazing Freedom of Speech.