There’s an unspoken promise that the internet knows everything. You can find the answer to any question because someone somewhere has posted about it.
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My gf and her friends have spent years trying to figure out what cartoon (glimpsed in the background of a family photo) is from. Dozens, maybe even hundreds of people have seen this image but nobody knows what it is from. If you recognize this man, please tell me. pic.twitter.com/nZibSf1QQH
— Will Sloan (@WillSloanEsq) September 2, 2022
If you thought a simple reverse image search would do anything, Sloan replied that it only led to a Reddit post he posted asking the same exact question in 2019. As far as he could tell, nobody knew where this obscure cartoon character came from, and it was driving people insane.
“There’s something about the image that is both very specific and very vague,” Sloan told In The Know. “Just looking at it, you know that it came from a second- or third- or fourth-tier cartoon from the late ’80s or early ’90s. … It is every character and no character.”
According to Sloan, his tweet, which was arguably one of the main Twitter topics over Labor Day weekend, reached 11 million people. It went so viral that memes were spawned from it. Someone, inexplicably, made the mystery into a T-shirt.
My gf and her friends have spent years trying to figure out what cartoon (glimpsed in the background of a family photo) is from. Dozens, maybe even hundreds of people have seen this image but nobody knows what it is from. If you recognize this man, please tell me. pic.twitter.com/NNNWJ9u9Eq
— Jeremy Kaplowitz (@jeremysmiles) September 3, 2022
Within 24 hours, it inspired popular YouTuber blameitonjorge to post a video about it. The channel, which has over 1.5 million subscribers, is dedicated to unsolved mysteries and internet oddities. Hundreds of thousands of blameitonjorge’s devoted internet sleuths got to work.
When asked why he thought so many people got involved in solving the mystery, Sloan chalked it up to the internet’s unspoken promise.
“[It] feels like a glitch in the utopian promise that everything is available on the internet,” he explained. “The internet can be an unpleasant place, so it was fun to see so many people uniting around a common cause, even if it was a very silly one.”
It did feel sorta good to go viral in a way that wasn't people yelling at me for a change.
— Will Sloan (@WillSloanEsq) September 6, 2022
Three days after posting the image — and six years after Sloan’s girlfriend’s friend first launched the investigation in her office Slack channel — someone figured it out.
A Twitter user with 92 followers replied, “I think I know what you’re looking for.”
I think I know what you’re looking for pic.twitter.com/UOqhiRLhzS
— Rasuran (@Rasuran1) September 5, 2022
The poster, @rasuran1, explained in another tweet that he has a good memory for childhood shows and remembered he and his friend used to watch a Christmas cartoon that looked vaguely similar to Sloan’s image.
“Surprise surprise: it came from an obscure TV special from the early ’90s that was only ever released on VHS,” Sloan said. “As far as I know, the show had never even been uploaded on YouTube until Monday.”
It was @rasuran1’s childhood friend who uploaded it to YouTube. To complicate things further, another Twitter user pointed out that the cartoon had two names — The Christmas Gift of Light and The Soulmates: The Gift of Light.
“As is often the case, the journey is more of a story than the destination,” Sloan added. “I think most people I knew were relieved that the mystery had been solved. I know people who have been trying to figure this out for six years. Most of them are happy to have a little closure, and also amused that thousands of other people had the exact same frustrated reaction to the image that they did.”
The virality of Sloan’s cartoon mystery taps into a fun, more light-hearted side of the internet and social media that rarely gets attention. The collaboration and dedication of strangers with a common cause knows no bounds — for example, a complete stranger built out a Tumblr post dedicated to what cartoons the image wasn’t from.
“It would be nice if we could mobilize some similar solidarity about climate change,” Sloan pointed out, “but I’ll take what I can get.”
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The post Millions of Twitter users come together to solve the 6-year mystery of where this cartoon elf is from appeared first on In The Know.
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