How I Accidentally Ruined Bluesky With Pictures of Sexy Alf
I haven't had this much fun on the Internet in years
Do you use Bluesky, the hot new social media app - I mean, protocol - that all the cool shitposters are talking about? Are you wondering why the entire application was, on May 3rd, suddenly, ferociously, taken over by a tsunami of sensual pictures of “Alf,” the cat-eating alien puppet star of a 1980s sitcom?
Would you like to know who the sick fucko it was that started this chain of events, inspiring 60K Internet users, many of whom have fancy professional jobs, to post endless thirst-trap pictures of a nostalgic joke alien - a cancer that spread so widely that Jake Tapper, Jeri Ryan, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez have all felt compelled to acknowledge it?
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It was me.
Here is a chronology of events.
I was sitting on the couch Wednesday afternoon, scrolling endlessly through the new Bluesky social media app, when an idea for a post came to me. Which wasn’t, you know, unusual, considering that I’ve been shitposting on Bluesky approximately every 5 minutes for the last week and a half.
And so I made the post below at 5:09 PM Eastern Time, likening the arrival of Twitter’s finest shitposters on Bluesky to an obscure, unsettlingly dark 1980s PSA in which a bunch of cartoon characters tell children not to smoke weed. (You should watch it on YouTube, it’s wild).
Everybody started tagging themselves in my replies. Everybody, immediately, said they wanted to be Alf.
And then I made the fatal mistake, the error that kicked off a chain of events that led to Chris Hayes asking, in earnest, what the deal with all those Alf pics on Bluesky was. I posted this picture.
And then, in the replies, fellow Bluesky user Bugs Maytrix came up with Fuck Alf:
Some people thought all this horrible, horrible shit was pretty funny.
They began making memes. Other people began stumbling upon the memes, and asking what the fuck was the deal with sensual Alf invading their skylines. And then, once they ascertained what the deal was (idk, mass collective hysteria), they joined in. The Alf skeets flew, fast and furious. Madness set in .
It became a bit like the plot of The Ring, except nobody died and instead of a cursed video, the dangerous object in question was a picture of Alf’s dick.
A little over an hour into the Fuck Alf tsunami, Jake Tapper - CNN anchor and consummate poster/former Suck contributor under the name “James Bong” (no, really) - decided to weigh in:
Throughout the evening, the Alf contagion continued to spread. Every other post was about Alf, or someone reacting to the profusion of horny Alf skeets invading their Bluesky experience.
For Christ’s sake, AOC saw it.
It occurred to me that night, as I watched the Alf skeets roll in, that I could now feel totally confident that every single person on Bluesky, from lowbie to sitting US congresswoman, had now been exposed, to some extent to a uncomfortably erotic picture of Alf.
It’s a realization that brought up a complex mix of emotions. Pride. Shame. Power (?). And perhaps most of all, a key realization: I hadn’t had this much chaotic, relatively harmless fun on the Internet in a very, very long time.
So, allow me to further explain why I made the Alf post. And how, in a way almost as weird as Alf’s junk, kicking off a still-continuing bout of hideous Alf horny posting has helped restore my faith in social media and the Internet itself.
Lately, I’ve been posting more than any human being should ever post, locked in what can only be described as a fugue state induced by dumb memes and a brand-new app that never, ever tries to rate limit me.
And I’ve been been posting this much - losing sleep, forgetting to eat, feeling my eyeballs dry up in their little sockets as I forget to blink - because, almost exactly a week ago, Bluesky hit something like critical shitposter mass.
I first joined Bluesky about three weeks ago after a friend hooked me up with an invite, but at first, the place was fairly quiet - a relatively genteel hang-out for a combo of tech professionals, Brazilians, digital artists, queer people, and assorted nerds to chat amongst themselves, with less of the finger-wagging baggage associated with Mastodon.
And then enough invites went out to enough Twitter weirdos with jokes who never sleep, and the cursed and inescapable Hellrope thread began churning its way through the social network, and well, I guess something got awakened in me, and in a lot of other people.
Primordial. Feral. The weird comedy began to move at lightning speed, and every time you posted something dumb and funny, someone else would riff off that with something even dumber and funnier. For a certain kind of terminally online person, it was intoxicating.
And I am, have always been, terminally online.
I made my first shitpost when I was 8, after I saw someone express affection for a virtual pet type I thought was stupid in an online forum, - which inspired me to reply with “damn you, asshole.” Then I ran away cackling, ate a blue Popsicle, and wondered if someone was going to call the cops.
But no one ever did call the cops. I got emboldened.
When I was 12, I got a Fanfiction.net account and proceeded to publish a series of stories making fun of anime, George W. Bush, and, in an extremely meta format, Fanfiction.net itself - in a plot-line where a heroic talking fossa internally infiltrates the corporation and shuts down the site so people stop writing self-inserts where they get to kiss the Backstreet Boys. When I was 14, I wrote an intentionally dogshit Cowboy Bebop fan-fiction in the IRC chatroom affiliated with the Bebop message board I hung out on, which included a catchphrase that got so popular, people were wearing t-shirts with “IMPUDENCE” written on them at anime conventions.
At that point, the die were cast. This was my destiny.
I joined Twitter when I was in college back in 2008, but I really started to get into it in 2010, when I started my first job as a reporter in Cambodia. Some of my friends had joined, and I met more people through those friends, and we all experimented with alternately posting weird shit and commenting on major news events. At the time, I reporting on the proceedings of the international Khmer Rouge war tribunal in Phnom Penh, and I think I was the first person to live-Tweet what was going on within those chambers.
It was also a marvelous place to meet people and get noticed as a young journalist at the time: a loophole method of putting your work in front of people with experience and influence, a side-door to the kind of access that was normally only afforded to young people with Ivy League degrees and family connections. Much more so than on any other social media network, it felt like anything could happen on Twitter. A Tweet might help kick off revolution in the Middle East, or a shitpost you made about bees might land in front of an Iranian foreign minister.
There were ample signs that things were getting worse on social media by 2013, with the rise of GamerGate, and the growing global realization that Facebook and the Internet were less helping democracy expand than serving as vectors for spreading deadly hate-speech. But Twitter was still pretty fun back then - a place where, while you had to be aware of the risk of your dumb Tweet leading to you being attacked on national TV, the fear wasn’t omnipresent.
I even met my partner on Twitter in 2015 in a thread about heroin-addicted lumberjacks, during what many people would agree was the Last Good Year on the Internet. (We’re still together, in a model example of a P4P/poster-for-poster relationship).
And then 2016 rolled around, the US presidential elections began to mutate into their final society-destroying form, and Twitter became a hellscape right along with it. I won’t linger over this topic, because it is an enormous one, but I will skip to the main point: that was the year where Twitter stopped being a fun, if slightly edgy playground, and morphed into the Terrordome - a place where genuine threats lurked around every corner. It became terribly clear that every single word of your dumb posts could and would be used against you, and it became terrifyingly more likely that someone would take your words, find out where you lived, and use them to ruin your life.
I stayed on Twitter, because it was still important to me, both professionally and personally. But I began to post from a constant defensive crouch. And while I still posted dumb things, I became a lot less funny, and a lot less open. The risk wasn’t worth it. My posters spirit began to shrivel.
I also lost my enthusiasm for writing for the Internet - and while I still did it, like many people, I wondered if this story, this post, would be the one that got me chased off the Internet forever. While Twitter began to improve its moderation somewhat by 2021, that was also the year that Elon Musk’s dipshit, grandpa-meme loving eye truly got turned upon it. And we all know what happened next.
At the start of this month, in 2023, I was still on what was now Elon Musk’s stupid website, using it both to post updates on drones in the Ukraine War, and to socialize with my friends - albeit, mostly, behind the relative safety of DMs. But like most every other organism that can think and feel and suffer, I was miserable about it.
Elon Musk’s constant mad-god thrashing around, issuing ever more vapid edicts in between juicy bong rips and environmentally-devastating rocket crashes. Blue checkmark dickholes with 2021-vintage NFT profile pics getting their algae-level takes promoted to the top of every thread, shitting up what once could have been interesting conversations on everything from climate change to US policy approaches to public housing. Bigoted accounts gleefully getting away with everything from promoting entirely un-veiled Nazism to public executions for trans people.
Algorithms that punish you for posting links and hide everything your actual friends are saying, instead forcing you into constant contact with trolls, vicious MAGAs, and people who want to accuse you of being an imperialist because you bought the wrong kind of lettuce. Basic site features breaking in new and exotic ways every single day, from Circles chats being made unexpectedly public (hope you didn’t post any dick pics!) to that time where Twitter’s logo changed to a Shiba Inu two days after April Fool’s Day because the developers couldn’t get it together in time.
And it’s not like Mastodon was much better, at least for me. I’d tried it back in November, but I could never get into a posting groove there. The apps I tried crapped out on me constantly, crashing, stalling, or just flat out failing to work after yet another server outage. Adding people took forever, and finding my friends was a major challenge. I worried that someone would try to call me out for failing to put a content warning for “maize” on a picture of a taco.
Like so many of my friends and associates, I was becoming a poster who had nowhere to post.
I was beginning to worry that the very act of posting itself, the thing that had made me put up with almost 15 years of Twitter’s ever-changing menagerie of bullshit, had become obsolete. Was the entire world going to move to TikTok and other video-based platforms? Would me and all the other nerds who hate being on camera and hate consuming information through slow-ass video content be left on the outskirts of society forever?
And then I joined Bluesky.
Bluesky has no videos, and it has no GIFs. There are no DMs. There’s no all-powerful sorting robot silently promoting certain posts to the top of the page based on various complex corporate formulas: skeets1 rise or fall in popularity entirely by how much people actually like them. It's being run by a team of smart developers who are open to suggestions and who are highly interactive with us, the gremlin userbase. It is, for the time being, the most human social network on the Internet.
And as I mentioned above, on Bluesky, I feel all those old animal posting spirits rising in me again. Suddenly, social media felt fun again, rich with potential - the chance to make new friends, the chance to amuse people, the chance to make celebrities confront imagery of spicy 1980s television puppets. I realized that I hadn’t become worse at posting since 2011: instead, Twitter had made it harder for me, and for everyone else, to organically be funny online.
On Bluesky, I feel way less afraid to post. That thing in my brain that’s restrained me from, uh, being myself on the Internet has fallen away.
And that’s how I, and the Bluesky collective as a result (sorry folks!) got to Fuck Alf.
Look, while I hope that Bluesky succeeds in the long term, I’m not naive about it, or about any new social media platform. I’ve been reporting, and doing academics research, on the various evils of tech for over a decade.
I don’t know if it’ll work, or if it’ll actually supplant Twitter, or if the intriguing ideas the dev team are bringing to the table about decentralization, federation, filtering, and algorithmic choice will pan out. I also don’t know if Bluesky’s decentralized strategy will, ultimately, prevent it from being overrun with the hordes of bigoted, hateful assholes that Elon Musk helped ruin our old, imperfect Internet home.
But I do know that right now, right here, I’m having a really good time.
Thank you, Fuck Alf. Thank you, Bluesky. Thanks to you, I’m remembering why I love the Internet. And why I love the art, the science, the horrifying ritual of shitposting.
Most people today know the term “skeet” from Lil Jon and the Eastside Boy’s 2003 hit “Get Low,” the signature song of bars with really sticky floors in the 2000s and early 2010s. Specifically, the part where he says “'Til all skeet-skeet mothafucka (mothafucka),” in reference to the act of ejaculation - and I didn’t know about the “til all” part until I looked up the lyrics just now.
But Lil Jon didn’t invent the word, though he likely did create this innovative new use of it.
Per the Online Etymology Dictionary, “skeet” crops up first in 1926, to refer to a new form of competitive target shooting (a sport that’s still popular today). It may be even older than that, per the dictionary: “Perhaps the word intended was something akin to dialectal skite (n.) "a sudden stroke, or blow," ultimately from Old Norse skjota "to shoot" (compare skit, and see shoot (v.)).