My youngest son, Sam, was doing his homework last Sunday afternoon. He’s fourteen, just so you know, and he likes to launch straight into the weekend when it arrives and pick up the homework debris after things cool down a bit.
So, yeah, there he was, doing his homework when he spotted something a bit strange in his business/economics text book. Here’s what it said.
“The demand for certain goods is greater than the quantity of goods available. For example, when Sony launch a new XBox game.”
This wouldn’t mean much to me and it possibly wouldn’t mean much to you either but, to Sam, it was a bit of an outrage. Sam is a Gamer, you see. He is actually a Gamer through and through, with a frighteningly in-depth knowledge of all things video-games and video-gaming related.
And, of course, Sony don’t make Xbox, they make PlayStation. We all spotted that, right?
Sam got his pen and drew a cloud around this ludicrous statement and then wrote the word ‘What?’ beside it. Without telling anyone, he borrowed his Mum’s iPad and took a snapshot of it. Then he stuck it on a photo sharing website and submitted it to the gaming section of Reddit. Then he finished his homework.
After homework, he noted that 42 people had looked at his photo, an impressive tally by his standards. To celebrate he went to the toilet. When he came back 70,000 people had inspected the picture. This was about five o’clock in the afternoon.
At seven thirty, Sam’s older brother said to me, “Guess who’s got 400,000 hits on the Internet in the last few hours?” I couldn’t guess. It certainly wasn’t me. The photo had made it to the front page of Reddit and was the top thing there for a while.
All through last Sunday evening, I rather bemusedly watched the views on Sam’s photo sail effortlessly over the one million mark and onward into the night.
The next day, in school, word had somehow got around of the little ‘viral’ event. Sam got to explain his modus operandi to the economics class and earned himself a night off homework.
On Tuesday, the viewing figures finally levelled off at 2,309,000 and the rush was over.
It fascinated me more than a little bit. I had my own little rush one Christmas with a short story I posted called ‘Long Distance’ but it was nothing like the scale of Sam’s escapade.
To be honest, it scared me a tiny bit too.
It’s a thought I’ve had before. That when we play on the world wide web, we are generally paddling in the warm shallows with our friends and family. But the ocean is deep almost beyond measure and one wave, one undercurrent can carry you out from the warm shallows into darker uncharted waters where shoals of fish teem and larger creatures lurk…
Let’s not get carried away. You know what I mean.
The photo attracted over 800 comments. Some people seemed to think that the picture was a clever marketing ploy by the Sony people, a manufactured mistake in a textbook to attract social media attention to the product…
It was just a fourteen year old lad with a biro… and his 2,309,000 online friends.