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March 3, 2014 | by  | in Opinion |
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Weird Internet Shit

The internet is way more boring than it used to be. You can spend days lost in important news articles, shitty subreddits, and Facebook posts from the people you hated in high school. We would like to fix that.

 

“The modern toilets are very inadequate.”

The year is 2007. A man in his early 70s stands in his bathroom, speaking clearly into a camera held by his wife, Vivian.  In a solemn academic tone, the man explains that the toilets of his day were of superior quality, as they held more water and made better use of gravity. The video blinks a little, but mostly stays steady, as he calmly itemises his toilet utensils, which include a stick. The video, entitled ‘Tips on Using the Toilet’, explains both the problems and solutions to our contemporary toiletry woes, from the shortness of the toilet (useful for little boys, he admits) to the “toilet riser, singular”, to the usefulness of a stepping stool in order to squat over a Western toilet, all the way through to the lotioning of toilet paper, “which completes the second step”. This is clearly the best thing on YouTube.

The man is Robert Jackson.

Robert makes Mitt Romney seem young and exciting. According to his website (teacherneedhelp.com), he lives a “commonplace, ordinary, everyday life”, and can provide guidance for others on achieving this goal. His YouTube channel is packed with these tips, all delivered in a button-down shirt and khakis in that solemn, grandfather-like tone. These cover every household topic that you didn’t know was a topic – shower curtains versus glass enclosures, homemade coffee substitutes, proper piano-score lighting, tying up boxes for storage, dishwasher stacking, even pineapple cutting. The videos are hypnotic in their sparsity, every new detail of Robert’s meticulous home life a new window to his soul.

I’ve been pulling out ‘Tips on Using the Toilet’ for a year or two now, showing people who either laugh or tell me to turn it off. Like I did, people wonder if this is perhaps a long-running prank, a retired guy having a little fun with all of us. Some of the details are just too perfect to be true. A minute’s discussion on the transparency of shower curtains really does seem like too much. But this is not a joke. The comments sections have been closed. The other videos on the channel (Shakespeare readings, piano duets) are too serious. Robert is a real guy, who really wants to show us all this.

This is what, away from their weirdness, makes these videos so great – their sincerity. Robert has seen the multitude of filth on YouTube and decided to balance the scales. He’s seen the casualness with which most people run their homes and has found a way to fix this. He’s spent a lot of his time solving problems most of us deem unworthy of attention, and would like to share his results. The end product is a perfect meeting of internet sensibilities and finishing-school charm, only at your weird uncle’s house. So go to your bathroom, take your laptop, and learn something.

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