My Lolcow & Me

Posted in Psychology on October 29, 2023 by ‐ 6 min read

My Lolcow & Me
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man in red jacket standing beside brown cow on green grass field during daytime֎ by Frank Holleman֎ on Unsplash֎

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This page was last modified: October 31st, 2023

🎶 Well, Ali Baba had them forty thieves 🎶

Back in my college days, towards the start, I made an acquaintance that I’ll never forget. Over time, I’d grow to know him. I want to imagine that there was a period in that relationship where we would have sincerely considered one another “friend”. For the longest time, I certainly would have called him that. But, now, years later, I sit here at my keyboard with the realization that what I actually treated him like, was a “Lolcow”֎.

I’m not using that word lightly either. I’m well aware of its connotations online. I link specifically to that Urban Dictionary֎ definition because it excludes the elements of harassment, stalking, bullying and more, associated with the term. Sadly, even without those aspects, it’s still not a pretty picture. The dynamic is about extracting (“milking”) comedy (“lols”) from a human being (“a cow”). Almost undoubtedly at their expense, and irrespective of their awareness of it.

Right now, online, there’s a bit of a mainstream-adjacent zeitgeist skirting around the label and the individuals, and groups, (unfortunate enough to be) caught within its orbit. While I reckon this growth in popularity is primarily a consequence of the paradoxically unquenchable thirst for “content” that our oversaturated, ad-centered, corporatized, modern internet possesses. I also think there’s a little more to it.

🎶 Scheherazade had a thousand tales 🎶

Alonso was… really something else, yo. From joining cults and renouncing loving family members to running with gangs and taking first dates on creepy, orgy-esque outings. My most insane life stories feature Alonso. And at some moment in our time together, I began seeing him as less of a person and more of a generator of wild, comical experiences. The decisions I’d make regarding him warped to the degree of prioritizing concepts like “entertainment potential” over more sensible things like “personal wellbeing” or “troublesome inconvenience”. Take the cult story for example: I drove him to the meetings! Cause it was funny. It felt sitcom֎-ish.

But it didn’t start out that way… And while I’m not going to excuse or justify my actions, I didn’t change without reason. Alonso constantly made senseless choices. Well-meaning intent, timely interventions, deep discussions, seemingly transformative revelations, it didn’t matter. He’d pick the “wrong” option, and then, even more confounding was, he could not reconcile their (usually) logical outcomes. To a cartoonish degree! While his real friends grew increasingly frustrated with him, I just kinda checked-out֎.

Ironically, it was that very apathy that led us to hanging out the most we ever would. Was it because I stopped treating him like a “problem” needing to be “fixed” and it allowed us to grow closer? No, dear reader, I’m pretty sure he just enjoyed having an overt enabler. And, so… there we were: my ignorant, home-brew Don Quixote, and I, his twisted, off-brand Sancho Panza. Doing whatever I could to oblige the fighting of windmills֎. Chapter by chapter, off we went, filling the pages of our lowly “epic”.

🎶 But, master, you in luck ‘cause, up your sleeves 🎶

What made me that way? What was the attraction? What kept me fascinated? I’m no angel, but it’d be superficial to just write me off as a “heartless, manipulative jerk”. Likewise, it would be just as shallow to place the blame squarely on Alonso and his village idiot֎–like behavior. Here’s what I suspect:

Morbid curiosity might be evolutionarily ingrained in us֎. Left to its own devices, traffic WILL slow for a train wreck֎. “The News” IS biased toward the negative֎. Surely you’re familiar with freak shows֎, traveler? The fascination with the unusual, isn’t so unusual. But I’d say this still only addresses about half of the “lolcow phenomena”.

The science of laughter֎ is surprisingly vast, nuanced and unfinished. But as far back as Ancient Greece there have existed theories linking humor and superiority֎. And while it’s obvious that there’s more at play here, my personal feelings on the matter hint at this being a significant element.

🎶 You got a brand of magic never fails 🎶

In my opinion, Alonso rarely cared about anything but himself and our time together was nothing short of reciprocal parasitism֎. But he never needed me as much as I needed him. I used him to feel good about myself. I used him as a key to wacky, dreamlike affairs. And I used him as a vicarious substitute for failure, to avoid the criticism֎ that I both hypocritically dished him and secretly, childishly feared.

Alonso was a fool, in more ways than one. But even fools bear wisdom֎. He was eternally blind (and deaf) to it mind you, but it was there. Unbelievable were the moments where things just… worked out for him. Frequent too, beyond that of a broken clock֎. A “man of action”, and that’s not meant to be a compliment; if he had thoughts I can practically guarantee they were worthless. But fortune favors the bold֎, and it never audits the source.

That walking, talking joke… That absolute circus clown of a man! For all his faults, he still, somehow, managed to embody a valuable truth. One more priceless than even the lifetime of laughs he left me with:

“To live is to lol.”

So, visitor, I ask you, truly–

got milk?֎

Contributors: Plato֎ | Miguel de Cervantes֎ –> Don Quixote [#1֎ & #2֎] | One Thousand and One Nights֎ –> Aladdin֎ –> Aladdin (1992)֎ –> Robin Williams֎ –> Friend Like Me [#1֎ & #2֎] –> Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves֎ –> Scheherazade֎ | Elbert Hubbard֎ –> Little journeys to the homes of American statesmen֎ | Coltan Scrivner֎ | Jonathan Sandling֎ | Vox֎ –> Dylan Matthews֎ | Scientific American֎ –> Giovanni Sabato֎ | Geno Samuel֎ | Hiromu Arakawa֎ –> Fullmetal Alchemist֎ –> Equivalent Exchange֎ | Akira Toriyama֎ –> Dragon Ball Z֎ –> Vegeta’s Pride֎ | Trey Parker֎ & Matt Stone֎ –> South Park֎ –> Britney’s New Look֎

Syndication֎: Agora Road֎, Mastodon֎ & basement community֎

This blog post is part of Agora Road Travelogue - Oct [#1֎ & #2]. A project attempting to encourage individuals to both write and exercise ownership over their content.



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