In my last post, I told you that when The Yeti called me an artist during his toast, I almost lost it. This is the story of how I became an "artist."
Back at Juanita College, there was an email phenomenon called Poopfinger. Basically, a Poopfinger was a mass email bomb. If someone didn't log off after using a public computer, the would-be poopfingerer would hop on, fire off an email to the mailing list that included everyone on campus, log off, and then walk away chuckling. The original email, which (if I have my Poopfinger history straight) was written during a physics lab, simply said "poopfinger," hence the name. Others tried to spice things up and come up with their own little tag (e.g., powdered deer penis) or just add "finger" after someone's last name (e.g., Raupfinger and Krausefinger), but poopfinger was the original and most popular.
I knew a few people (opportunists perhaps) that had sent Poopfingers, and I did it once or twice myself. That said, it was technically illegal. Everyone on campus had to sign some kind of IT promise that they wouldn't misuse the campus network. This was back in the day when file sharing via original Napster was rampant, and the music industry was cracking down on college campuses, which is probably what prompted the IT form. With our signatures, the college absolved itself from the wrongdoing, placing the blame squarely on us. Regardless, mass emails were also considered network violations because (and this was told to me by the guys that fixed all of the network/email outages) the original campus email system was set up for a maximum of 32 users and was now carrying a load of over 1000 emailers. Long story short, mass emails clogged up the server and screwed up the works.
In any event, I know I'm glossing over a lot of Poopfinger history, but I want to get down to business here (if any of Dr. Yeti's millions and millions of fans want to write in with their favorite Poopfinger stories, please do!). Let's talk about how I became an artist.
Now, like I said, I knew some Poopfinger perpetrators, and I also knew a lot of assholes. Not surprisingly, there was a lot of overlap between those two groups. My asshole friends and I used to sit around talking about sending the poopfinger to end all poopfingers. A mass email that would air the campus's dirty laundry (i.e., NCAA violations by Turdd Squinter, publishing the same picture of black students in magazines and brochures year after year, how the place was a politically correct war zone, etc.) and right real and perceived wrongs. Well, one thing led to another, and it was either idle fantasy to my friends or I just took things too far, because I sent the Poopfinger of Doom and caused a ruckus.
As you can imagine, people were angry, specifically those mentioned in the email. The Hatefinger, as we sometimes called it, was such a shock to people's senses that all Poopfinger etiquette broke down and someone sold me out. Yep, they ran to mommy (in this case, the Dean) and tattled.
The normal Dean in charge of discipline wouldn't talk to me (probably because I called his show tune singing son gay), so I met up with the other Dean to eat some humble pie. I was read the riot act, brow beaten, and given the stink eye, slow head shake, and quiet stare. In the end, all I had to do was apologize, talk to anyone that wanted to speak to me about my reprehensible actions in private, and deal with a mark on my permanent record:
Anyway, as you might imagine, meeting with angry people about an email that you thought was going to be anonymous was a little awkward. Honestly though, it wasn't too bad. I think most people were surprised to see that I wasn't some kind of social deviant...at least not full time.
And then I got an email from the Dean saying that one of the professors in the Art Department wanted to talk to me. That confused me because I don't think I made fun of any artists in the email, but I put on my "I'm sorry" face and walked into a surreal encounter.
The professor in question, we'll call him Helen, shook my hand and called me an artist.
Helen didn't necessarily love or condone the email, but he appreciated it for what it was - in your face social commentary. I was pushing boundaries and making people confront reality. In that sense, I was an artist just like him.
In the end, I stopped sending Poopfingers (despite having several more opportunities) because I didn't want to get kicked out of school, artist or not. In a silly turn of events, as all of this turmoil was turmoiling, the school was trying to sign me up for their academic honors society. I politely declined, truthfully stating that I didn't think I met their moral criteria, and then laughed at how sometimes the left hand doesn't know what the right one's doing. I'm told that after all of this, the school finally revamped their email system, making mass emails virtually impossible to send.
Poopfinger is extinct. I'm sorry I killed it.
It's been a lot of years, and that's all I can remember. Again, if anyone else has insights, please share them. And for God's sake, will someone please tell me who ratted me out to the Dean!?! It's not like I'm going to stab them or anything. I'd just like to be able to raise a glass and throw out a cheers to them getting herpes every now and again.
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