Monday, March 14, 2022

Microstory 1841: Prank Wars

I was one of the first people to sign up for a certain video sharing website. At that point, most people were just watching, but I was a content creator. I built my name as a prankster before anybody really knew what the industry would grow into. Of course, secret camera television shows predated my debut, but none of them generated the kind of hits I would end up having. People could watch them over and over again, and they did, because they were hilarious. When copycats started trying to recreate the magic, people would ask me whether that bothered me, and I would tell them honestly that absolutely not! That’s the whole point of the internet, that there’s room for everyone! Yes, they were competition, but you have to understand that, back then, nobody was making money off of the site. Even once they started splitting ad sales with us, it wasn’t much, and it was impossible to tell who was taking your audience. No, I had no problem with my rivals, but trouble came for me anyway. A few years after the beginning, one of those regular old TV shows premiered. They would lure victims to highly controlled environments under false pretenses, let them think something great was going to happen, and then pull the rug out from under them. One time, that was literal. They convinced someone they were going to get a free very expensive rug, coupled with a very expensive remodel of their home, and then actually pulled on the rug they were standing on. It was disgusting. My pranks were never like that. They weren’t mean-spirited. My guests were never victims, and they always walked away with a smile. I hated this show on principle, and I acknowledged as much in a non-prank video on my channel. This caught their attention, and my life was never the same after what they did to me.

I was an awkward kid. Pranks were a way for me to come out of my shell, and express myself. Which was great, but it didn’t really help my real life. Perhaps if I were making them today, it would be different, but again, nascent industry. When a girl started talking to me at a party, I couldn’t believe it, but I wanted to, so I went along with it. She seemed very interested in who I was, and what I did, which was unusual, because for as many fans as I had, girls didn’t care much for it. They didn’t know how light-hearted and fun they were. They always figured I did the same twisted things the TV show did. She said she knew the owner of this house, and invited me to a sort of secret room in a finished attic. I had never done anything with a girl before, so I was nervous, but I didn’t want to waste an opportunity. You can see where this is going. We didn’t get very far before the host of that show ran upstairs, and started laughing at me. He was so ecstatic that I fell for it. How pathetic, how embarrassing. The party wasn’t even real. This whole thing was set up for me, and I could hear them all laughing downstairs. I blew up. I grabbed one of the cameras, and struggled with it for a second, telling the operator that I could either drop it to the floor, and break it, or I could drop both him and the camera. I smashed it, and punched the walls. A security guy tried to tase me, but he missed, so I punched him in the face. I don’t remember what I said, but threats were made, and while I don’t think anyone there took them seriously, the network’s lawyers sure did, because they sounded like money to them. The site banned me for life; my career was ruined, robbing me of the revenue that others now see. Bitter, I decided to finally make good on one of my threats today, but I wish I knew before that the host owns a gun.

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