Thursday, August 16, 2012

Internet Wormholes

You know those days where you have tentative plans to be productive? Like, things that are sort of important but not urgent: dirty dishes in the sink,r going to the bank, maybe organizing your junk drawer. So you give yourself some leeway, and decide to spend a little extra time on the computer.

Three hours later, you have four new hobbies and an Amazon shopping card full of things you never needed until that exact moment.

I fall into the most strange, nuanced corners of the internet sometimes. And a chance encounter with one video on Youtube will lead to me suddenly dedicating half my time to wasting my life on something I never knew I gave a shit about. For example, I can get away with a solid four hours of watching nothing but roller coaster videos.

The worst of these spirals is definitely my love affair with Japanese preteen culture.

This spiral begins with my love for Japanese snacks, as was discovered in the Japanese pavilion a Epcot as a child. Yan Yans are made of manna from heaven, I think. It was always an extra special treat to stock up on the various combinations of chocolate-and-biscuit snacks every few years on Disney World vacations.

A few years ago, I realized these could be purchased online. GASP! Would that take away how special they are? $30 later, I realized that no, Pocky sticks taste fucking awesome even when not enjoyed in line for the Norway flume ride (those trolls, you guys). It was then that I stumbled into the world of Poppin' Cookin'.

CANDY YOU MAKE YOURSELF. You get a box full of powder packets and SUDDENLY YOU HAVE SUSHI MADE OF SUGAR AND YOUR VERY OWN GUMMIES AND A CUP OF FAKE RAMEN THAT TASTES LIKE REAL RAMEN. You can't convey these things without using capslock! It's THAT EXCITING.

If you try to find videos of this candy in action, you'll likely stumble upon RRcherrypie and be lost in the deftness of not only DIY candy, but weird crafts full of fake food that I can't wrap my head around. Why does anyone need a fake hamburger the size of a thumbtack that's gonna rot in a few days? It's a mystery, and I will not stop until I find out. (Also, I must recommend emmymadeinjapan for actual reviews on this candy, and so we realize the Japanese have faults like not making this stuff taste like fucking rainbows every time).

Then my world grew even darker. I discovered the world of the Kawaii.

Really, all that means is "cute" in Japanese. But to preteens it means SO MUCH MORE. They inexplicably trade tiny toys -- usually cell phone charms, but like, who has a cell phone with a place to hang charms these days? -- and gather up thousands upon THOUSANDS of Youtube followers. I can't get more than 500 hits on a stupid drunk vlog of me wrapping Christmas presents while pounding Baileys, but some 13 year old goes online to debate the merits of a squishy foam Hello Kitty waffle versus a Mickey Mouse shaped donut and suddenly they have 4,000 subscribers and 30,000 video views.

Everything is squishy. Everything is fake food. There are a million squishy buns with random faces painted on them in the world, and I want to know why.

I will never understand. I'm probably not supposed to. But if you think I haven't stayed up til 3am watching a middle schooler review a fake croissant that you squeeze like memory foam, you'd be wrong.

Who wants to buy me one?

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