In the internet age, we are all Baby Jessica. For the youths: Baby Jessica was an American baby who fell down a well in 1987. It was international news for days as a crack team tried to extract her. She is actually older than me, and fell down the well long before I formed working memories, but it was still a common reference throughout my childhood. It’s fine now; she’s fine now. Anyway, we’re all Baby Jessica in that we’ll probably all be briefly famous, probably for a youthful misstep. And we are ALSO all Baby Jessica in that at any time, in any place, any of us is probably stuck at the bottom of a deep hole – an internet hole.
An internet hole is what happens when you start looking up one thing and end up in a spiral of online research on something entirely different. You land on some wacky website, and before you know it you have fallen down a well of Wikipedia entries, abandoned forums and personal webpages. Hang on tight, Jessica. We’ve all been there, and here are a few of mine.
I mean. How else do you think I had working knowledge of this one baby who had broke her arm 28 years ago? I fell down it just today, and it perfectly illustrates how these web spirals go down. Here was my thought process:
1) Speaking of writing about “falling down a hole” … hey, remember Baby Jessica?
2) Google Baby Jessica, read Wiki summary.
3) Develop a need to see Baby Jessica throughout her life; re-Google Baby Jessica and access the image results.
4) Spend possibly too long weighing whether two days in a well as a baby is worth receiving a million-dollar trust fund at 25. I think it would be. Who even remembers being a baby, anyway?
We all know that nobody stays a child forever. But there’s something so fascinating about seeing people you haven’t seen since you were a kid, stretched out by a foot with their features morphed onto adult faces. This is the only reason you accepted that Facebook request with that girl you haven’t seen since second grade. It’s sort of amazing knowing these people as kids, then realizing that they’ve lived lives parallel to yours for decades since then. It’s the same way with famous people your age. I already know what happened to folks like Lindsay Lohan and the Olsen Twins, but you really can fall into an internet hole with those famous kids who disappeared into everyday lives. Just a few:
– The Dilley Sextuplets and McCoughey Septuplets. Before John and Kate, these litters were featured on Dateline and 20/20 type shows regularly. They’re all grown up now. It’s fascinating.
– JonBenet Ramsey’s brother (more on that later).
– The girl from the Missy Elliot video (who made the news again a few weeks ago!).
– Swan Brooner and Leslie Butler, the two little girls from an early 2000s child pageant documentary, before the age of Toddlers and Tiaras.
– Various participants of The 1900 House, a PBS reality series about a family who lived in an Edwardian row house as though it were the turn of the 20th century.
We’ve mentioned our perverse fascination with the Duggars and their whole Quiverfull movement. One of the most interesting aspects of this subculture is the Stay At Home Daughter. These are young – and sometimes not-really-young-at-all – ladies who live with their parents until they get married. At first glance you’re probably like “student loans, tough economic times, post-recession America, no big deal,” right? Wrong. They are typically not allowed to go to college and most don’t work outside the home so that they aren’t subjected to bad influences. Their dad is in charge until they get married, when these gals become the captains of their fates! Haha just kidding. Then their husbands take over. These girls are most interesting from a sartorial sense. Lots of jumpers and improbably long hair, sack-like dresses, etc. Then, there’s also a whole coven of them that dress almost normal. Many of them spend their days helping to homeschool younger sibs.
The great thing about stay-at-home daughters is that a lot of them have blogs – like a stay-at-home mom blog, without the kids. Also, a lot of them are friends with each other, so if you find one central SAHD, you basically have the keys to the kingdom. I wasn’t reading to make fun of them, it’s more like I just couldn’t look away and it was hard to fathom people growing up in the same place and time as me in such a different way.
This also led into a tangential search about Purity Balls. It’s worth a Wiki view.
By the time you’re in even your early 20s, you’ve lived through some doozies of collective pop culture madness. I say this as someone who spent some fifth grade bank on some of the GOOD Beanie Babies, the ones you’d put in that little clear coffin, like that purple bear you were supposed to buy to remind you of Princess Diana. It’s not like these trends started in the 90s; it’s been centuries of this madness.
So, looking up fads of the 1920s, I learned all about flagpole sitting and phone booth stuffing, eventually causing me to check a nonfiction book about flappers out of the library – Flapper by Joshua Zeitz; worth a read if you are at all interested in the subject. Or how about 1970s? Pet rocks and lava lamps, but also Laura Ingalls and string art.
Oh, shoot. This is where internet holes get dark and disturbing. You will read the most horrific things, but the more you learn, the more theories and psychological analysis and sociological commentary you find that you need. If you don’t believe me, spend 10 minutes googling the JonBenet Ramsey case. If that doesn’t do it, start reading about the appeals of the Charles Manson killers. Then there are those teen girl killers from the 1950s who became the subject of the Kate Winslet film Heavenly Creatures. Or 1910s model Evelyn Nesbit and the Thaw-White case. How about Leopold and Loeb, these awful rich kids from the 1920s? I tend to gloss over how these crimes went down, but I’m interested in the “why” and also in what happened after – did the killers reform and live a long life, get granted new identities and settle into obscurity, or die in jail shortly after?
There are all of these (probably fishy) stories about people who seemingly slipped into the past for a while, even though they were geographically in the same spot. If you were ever into Charlotte Sometimes or A Wrinkle In Time, or just wondered what it would be like to wake up in your same bedroom decades in the past, you just need to let yourself tumble down the Time Slip internet hole.
All you need to do is enter those two words in a search engine and you’ll be stuck at the bottom of the internet for hours. Try to come up for air sometime between the lost mansions of Detroit and the ruins of Chernobyl. These places are like above-ground Titanic wrecks, and god bless the brave souls who took cameras into them, safety and legality aside.
The only thing I really ever knew about the illuminati is that they were supposed to like the shape triangle, and that Beyonce is supposed to be one. That’s still all I’ve really scraped together, but it’s still good for 45 minutes clicking through Wikipedia and blog links.
No, not the show that I watched every day as a child even though the theme music alone sent chills up my spine. Things that nobody has figured out, but that a lot of internet weirdos have ideas about. JFKs murder, Amelia Earhart’s plane, and Atlantis are just a few that you probably shouldn’t start looking up unless you have a strong Wifi signal and a free afternoon.