Lolcats Addendum: Where I Got the Story Wrong

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A fair number of people e-mailed me over the weekend to point out to me 1) that I am a horrible person, and 2) that I got the story wrong on the lolcats meme.

I’m gonna field that second point first. I did in fact get the story wrong on lolcats, or at least, there was some serious imprecision there. I wrote: “The oldest known example–which probably dates to 2006–is an image of a chubby gray kitty looking at the camera and asking plaintively, I CAN HAS CHEEZBURGER?” This isn’t true, which you can see I suspected was possible, given that I fudged and used “probably”. The meme I know as “lolcats” apparently existed on a website called 4chan.org as early as 2005 as a tradition called Caturday. I’m going to quote from one of the e-mails I got this weekend:

There is more than enough EXIF data scattered around the internet to prove that cat macros are ancient, by internet standards. Caturday, for example, was a meme on a 4chan.org imageboard which originated around the beginning of 2005 as a protest against \”Furry Friday\” threads (In which basement-dwelling creeps would post anthropomorphic disney characters giving [sorry, gotta go family values at this point.]

Now, the people in that community are understandably pretty annoyed that a lot of their images are getting appropriated and passed around by other people as “lolcats” images, without proper — or any — credit being given. Which I kinda aided and abetted. I had heard of Caturday when I wrote the piece, but I’d understood that it was a proto-lolcats practice that was different from the actual lolcats meme. How wrong I was. I apologize.

And just to touch on point number 1, above, when choosing insults, keep in mind that despite my very Old World-sounding name, I’m not actually Jewish in any meaningful sense. My mom was raised Anglican.

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