What we do know: at 9:45am on February 11,
2012, all USC Wireless was completely shut down. Within twenty minutes,
ethernet ports started failing as well. By 11am, terrified sorority girls were
unable to upload mobile pictures of their angst to Facebook. Sophomore Nikolas
Schmidt managed to singlehandedly shut down Internet access within a three-mile
Between his concert T-shirt and Toms, Schmidt
looks like any Menlo frequenting USC pseudo-hipster. Between his half-empty
Smart Water bottle and ringtone (a remixed version of the USC
Fight Song), he exudes calculated Trojan coolness. This does not
seem like the man guilty of committing the second most infamous student crime in history.
By this point, Schmidt is a campus legend.
Yet, his story has been recycled so many times that he wanted it told in his
words for the first time.
“It would be easy for me to say it started on
February 7th, but it didn’t. I discovered reddit when I was fourteen years old
and it changed me. It was”¦ it was like one of those changes you can’t really
explain, you know?”
Schmidt is clearly frustrated with his
inability to explain himself, so he opens his laptop and rapidly Googles until
he finds this.
“Yeah. Finding reddit made me feel when young
fictionalized Michael Jordan first realized he could dunk. Finding reddit was
the realization of all the power I’ve always had inside. I discovered
intellectual internet dwellers”¦ And memes.”
Memes. There’s a hushed sense of reverence
when Schmidt says the word. After all, it was the Meme Frenzy of February 7th
that put him over the edge.
“It had gone on for a while, actually. Beforethat
voice drips with dismissive disdain, the type usually reserved for discussing
tyrants or lack of choice at EVK. “I saw memes I’ve come to love, you know? Successful Black Man, Conspiracy
Keanu“¦” He holds back manly nerd tears. “But worst of all”¦ “Y
U No’ Guy. The USC population managed to obliterate the reputations
of these characters in a matter of hours. It’s like”¦”
He struggles to find an appropriate metaphor
for his situation. When epiphany strikes, his eyes cloud over at a dark memory.
Moments like these I can see the dangerous criminal behind the hipster-guise.
“Back in ’99. I’d already been a Star
Wars fan for six years. I
wrote my first Leia-Chewbacca fan fiction at age five. Then The Phantom Menace came out and half of my first
grade class bought plastic lightsabers without really understanding what a Jedi
is. They didn’t even know about the other movies. And they ruined everything.”
Schmidt made his plans on February 7th and took a mere four days to put them into action. The most renowned Viterbi
professors are still clueless as to how Schmidt managed to do it alone ““ and
that’s the one part of his tale that Schmidt stays tightlipped about.
In a press release from Michael Jackson‘s
office, the administration commended Schmidt for his “noteworthy intelligence
and non-violent protest” and ““ in a shocker that rocked the 90007 zipcode ““ the
University took Schmidt’s side.
“We believe Mr. Schmidt makes valid points
about the art of “meme’ and USC’s abuse of it. Beyond that, it has come to our
attention that the Internet has consistently been used for sites like
StumpleUpon, Facebox, and Tweeter in lectures. Until Mr. Schmidt feels that the
general student population is mature enough for Internet use, the
administration will make no efforts tobring
the Internets back to campus.”
Schmidt claims that he does not know when he
will make USC Wireless fully available again ““ he has been generous enough to
allow access to e-mail and USC’s
best news site, but plans to keep the rest of “the Internets” under wraps
until he feels the meme making is at bay.
“Stop everyone,” he sighs, “Just stop.” And
with that, Schmidt walks away, off to make it to the front page of reddit… again.