The internet giveth and the internet taketh away. This past week, it gave us a video of a court proceeding in which one party accidentally had a filter turned on that made him appear as a precious little kitty cat.
You’ve probably seen it by now. If you haven’t, stop reading this column and go find it right now. I haven’t laughed so hard in ages. My kid may have thought there was something seriously wrong with me as I gasped for breath and wiped tears from my eyes.
This video is nothing short of greatness. Then, I realized its full potential. Perhaps this video can solve some of the other pitfalls the internet has wrought. Or at least the primary pitfalls of social media: stupid arguments.
What if Facebook required the perpetrators of stupid arguments to sit down face to face over a video call to hash out their differences? Maybe Facebook commenters would be nicer face to face. But, what if instead of their own faces, this mediation required each participant to appear as a kitty cat. Maybe a mouse. Perhaps a bullfrog. The possibilities are almost endless.
Facebook could assign each participant an absurd animal, depending on the level of venom they spewed at others on the platform. And those spewing venom wouldn’t appear as scary copperheads or Gila monsters. No, they’d appear instead as a furry little gerbil. Maybe a fuzzy little chick. Probably something usually eaten by venomous snakes.
Or, each participant could choose the filter for the opposing side in the argument.
If I’ve got to debate what’s fact and fiction with someone who doesn’t seem to understand the difference, I’d like that person to have a filter that makes him or her appear as a baby otter. Their little faces look receptive, like they’re listening and contemplating what’s being said. Also, of course, they are cute. But they’re not so cute that I’d laugh the whole time. I could keep my composure.
For myself, I might go with an owl. A symbol of wisdom feels just right. Obviously I’ll be the wise one in the conversation — the name Shannon literally means small, wise one. Somehow I haven’t referenced that fact when editing or rejecting letters to the editor from people not so happy with my decisions.
A snowy owl could be a good choice. It looks dignified, and it’s bright yellow eyes are rather piercing.
Of course, the other party in this debate might prefer I appear as a silly kangaroo or helpless baby bird. No matter, this conversation is still going to be more fun than what would have transpired otherwise.
“Hi, I’m Shannon. I’m here live. I’m not a silly kangaroo.”
“Hello, I’m such and such. I’m also here live. I’m not an otter. But you are silly.”
“Well, you picked it, not me. And now that we have that out of the way, I’m confused as to why you think 2+2=5,” I’d say, kangaroo eyes darting to the side.
“Of course 2+2=5, but I’m sorry, is your kangaroo filter wearing boxing gloves? I didn’t approve of that.”
“You picked a kangaroo filter, so here I am. Now, is your otter eating a snack?,” I might ask.
“Well, it appears to be. I’m not actually nibbling on anything with my paws — er, hands — up near my chin.”
“Of course not.” I start to laugh. “Now, about that math fact. …”
My kangaroo face turns to face a live child in the room when suddenly that child, now in view of the computer’s camera, transforms suddenly into a kangaroo. Child giggles.
“I apologize, my kid came home early today.”
“I guess two kangaroos are better than one.”
“So, we’ve got two kangaroos over here. If you had two kangaroos over there, how many would we have?,” I’d ask.
“Well, that’d be four kangaroos.”
“Ah, I see. So 2+2=4 then?”
“Hmm, I guess it does.”
OK, it probably wouldn’t be that easy, but if we all took ourselves just a little less seriously, it would be more fun.
May we have the ability to laugh at ourselves like that cat lawyer and have the patience of that human judge. And may we all be “prepared to go forward with it” even when life throws kitten-shaped curveballs at us.
Shannon Casas is editor in chief of The Times and a North Hall resident.