let’s (not) talk about potato salad

The internet is a weird and wonderful place. It’s a place where thousands of people can simultaneously play the same game of Pokémon. It’s a place of wonder and frustration, of conversation and trolls. A place where even the silliest idea can go viral.

A few days ago, a guy going by Zack Danger Brown (Danger might actually be his middle name, but I’m assuming not) started a kickstarter to make a potato salad. “I’m making potato salad.” reads his description, “Basically I’m just making potato salad. I haven’t decided what kind yet.”

His original goal was $10, however, at the time of writing, he now has $17,367 with 2,304 backers…

What the hell?

Look, I get it, the internet loves potato salad. The internet loves making a big deal out stupid crap. But seriously… $17K for a guy to make a POTATO SALAD?!?!?

Let’s talk about why this is a bad thing.

I don’t think that Zack Danger intended, or even imagined that this little gag project of his would explode like this, or that it would draw this much attention. That’s sort of the way the internet works, you can work hard for years and never get noticed, or you can post one thing that millions of people like/agree with/laugh at/scoff at/hate with a passion and then you are famous out of nowhere. This is just a side effect of how the internet works.

Now, this may be like a Twitch Plays Pokémon, where it explodes in popularity and then quickly wanes. (I just learned that TPP is actually still running, they are in Pokémon Black 2, though now the average viewership is much lower.)

But for now this thing is all over the internet. All day as I was at work on the computer I was seeing tweet after tweet about this stupid potato salad thing, people kept talking about it, and that’s a big part of the problem. Hell, by writing this blog post I am talking about it and being part of the problem. All the attention this project is getting is a bad thing.

Crowdfunding, while it has revolutionized the way that small projects can be funded and created, is still a fancy new-fangled thing. (My parents could not understand why crowdfunding worked for a while. Why would you invest without equity?) A project like this just draws negative attention to kickstarter, makes it harder for something like crowdfunding to be taken seriously.

However, the bigger problem with the potato salad project is that all this money could be going instead to fund other projects, projects that have work and talent behind them. Project that matter. While there is nothing inherently wrong with Mr. Danger wanting to ask for money to make a potato salad (though, honestly, dude, don’t you have a job or something that you could get that money from), but the money and attention he’s getting is far better served going to better projects.

Here’s a list of just a few projects on kickstarter right now that are far worthier of your attention (in my honest opinion):

A project to make durable toy swords with interchangeable parts

Playing cards that help you make backstories for RPG characters

A dieselpunk sandbox RPG

A game about becoming a monster to protect someone you love

And SO MANY MORE!

Please, take whatever money you were going to throw at Mr. Danger and his potato salad, because God knows he doesn’t need any more money than he’s already been pledged, and use that money to help out a project that actually needs it. Crowdfunding is a wonderful opportunity for the collective that is the internet to help out a project that needs it, to help out a project that you personally believe in, that you want to see come to fruition. So, please, let’s not talk anymore about potato salad, and let’s help make some great things come into being.