#RIPScottBaio was trending on Twitter this afternoon, despite the effusive and vulgar protestations of the Joanie and Chachi star. If you'd visited Wikipedia, searching (as one does) for some "Baio"-graphical information, you would've learned what killed him: diaper rash. "There was only one way to spread awareness of the very real threat of 'diaper death,'" I was told when I talked the guy who'd kicked off the rumor.
That guy is @boring_as_heck, or "stefan," and today represents a kind of career high. @boring_as_heck was the first person to Tweet #RIPScottBaio, and was the driving force, along with co-conspirator @SPERGERS and a loosely-aligned gang of Twitter weirdos—a couple dozen people who mostly post on, and know each other through, the Something Awful message boards—behind its rise to the top spot on worldwide trends list. All of which made Scott Baio—best known on the internet for being a racist prick—very, very angry, and everyone else very, very pleased.
The members of the diaper cabal that killed Baio are probably the most advanced Twitter users I know, even if, and maybe because, they mostly just troll people in deliberately odd and unbelievably funny ways, thick with in-jokes and obscure references. Diaper fetishists and "adult babies" are frequent topics of conversation, alongside, not that I really understand any or all of it, dogs, bogs, pizza, atheism, and Skrillex being stung by wasps. Another thing that they, like all other normal human beings on Twitter, love to do: Tweet weird shit at or about brands, corporations or celebrities. (Stefan maintains a hilarious Tumblr collecting his and his friends' Tweets at corporations.)
In that context, this following sequence of Tweets was more or less a regular kind of not at all weird thing to do:
Baio, @boring_as_heck explained to me, "responded by blocking anyone who brought up diapers" and calling everyone "dipshits":
On a normal day, being responded to in such a fashion would be considered a more or less complete victory. But this was not a normal day. Inspired by the recent, beautiful troll of Ron Paul fans with a #RIPRonPaul hashtag, @boring_as_heck kicked off a hashtag of his own:
"After Scott blocked me," he says, "I knew there was only one way to spread awareness of the very real threat of 'diaper death.' It quickly spiraled out of my control." Within an hour, helped along by @SPERGERS and the rest of the diaper dudes, #RIPScottBaio was the top worldwide trend. The Wikipedia "vandalism" followed; Gossip Cop—which seems to have Googled "Scott Baio dead" and found one of those insert-a-celebrity's-name fake obituaries—"debunked" the rumor. So did MSNBC.
Its co-instigators were understandably excited:
Baio was not:
The trend has died down, the rumor has faded, and Baio is still alive. But he—like the rest of us—learned a lesson today. Not just a lesson about the dangers of diaper death. A lesson about the power of the internet: