The internet is not known for its ability to take a joke. A week ago, Michael Hale, a Twitter user with the charming handle @dogboner found himself riding in the subway across from astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson. He surreptitiously snapped a photo and posted it with this sarcastic caption:
Some guy using his laptop on the train like a Dumbass nerd lol pic.twitter.com/4RuSAZfI14— im literally 12 (@dogboner) July 29, 2014
The photo quickly gained momentum, being retweeted thousands of times and published by dozens of blogs. Yesterday it hit the big-time: Facebook page I Fucking Love Science posted the picture with the simple comment "oops," where it has received more than 50,000 shares and 30,000 comments. George Takei posted the tweet soon after, calling it a "facepalm of 'cosmic' proportions," to another flood of comments.
"They were falling over each other to tell me that I am the reason the world is a bad place."
Overwhelmingly, they are not positive.
Perceiving an attack on its most favored son, the patron saint of astrophysics, the internet convulsed with rage. Hale has been flooded with infuriated comments calling him an idiot, questioning his worth as a human being, encouraging him to contract a range of diseases, and discouraging him from attempting to reproduce.
starting too not fucking love science so much...— im literally 12 (@dogboner) August 8, 2014
The kicker is that Michael Hale styles himself a Twitter comedian, and he claims the picture was a joke from the beginning. As he wrote on Gawker, somewhere along the way any sense of irony was lost, and instead he's become the target of an incessant stream of internet abuse.
Further baffling the outraged masses, Hale, who appears to be an adult man with a job and child, sometime recently changed his twitter name from "YOLO Swag Douchebag" to "I'm literally 12." To his credit, he's been taking the attacks in stride.
neil degrasse tyson is a dork. bill nye's dick fell off in junior high. stephen hawking wears a fedora. carl sagan died a virgin— im literally 12 (@dogboner) August 7, 2014