The Simpsons Go Online - Internet And Social Media In Springfield

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Online In Springfield

Marge Simpson Goes Online
Marge Uses FacelOOk on The Simpsons. TCFFC

The Simpsons began in the 1980s before there ever was an internet. As the internet became more clearly a staple of modern life, The Simpsons incorporated it more and more. Here is a timeline of the internet in Springfield. I’m sure I’m forgetting some appearances, so feel free to tweet me a reminder! And I’m not counting any episodes about the future, because their computer references are more sci-fi, even if they did come true. I’m looking at The Simpsons tackling modern computing.

02
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1993: Dialup - "Homer Goes To College"

Homer's College Nerds Friend Use Dialup
Early modem joke on The Simpsons. Fox, Screen Cap via Frinkiac

In the Conan O’Brien scripted season five episode “Homer Goes to College,” Homer brings his school’s trio of nerds home when he gets them kicked out. They waste no time setting up camp in the Simpson house. Marge picks up the phone and hears the screeching sound of a dialup connection. Many will remember the familiar cacophony of dialup computing, but there’s an entire generation reared on DSL and WiFi who’ll never know. 

03
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1995: Usenet - "Radioactive Man"

Comic Book Guy on Usenet
Alt.nerd.obsessive. Fox, Screen Cap via Frinkiac

When Bart and Milhouse hear that Hollywood is making a Radioactive Man movie, their only source for news is Comic Book Guy. Today it would be plastered all over the internet, but back in season seven, Comic Book Guy had to use the old usenet message boards to get news from alt.nerd.obsessive. If you look closely you’ll see alt.binaries.pictures.erotica is also one of Comic Book Guy’s frequent visits. In the episode "The Itchy & Scratchy & Poochy Show," Comic Book Guy says he posted a negative review online, but we don't see him on the internet.

04
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1997: AOL - "Homer's Phobia"

The Simpsons AOL Couch Gag
Back when America Online was a top ISP. Fox, ScreenCap Via Reddit

The opening credits couch gag for the episode "Homer's Phobia" featured the America Online welcome screen slowly loading the Simpson family with a stalled progress bar. The user eventually gives up and quits AOL to start the show. Anyone who remembers connecting to AOL on dialup could feel this pain. 

05
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1998: Homer's Internet Company - "Das Bus"

Comic Book Guy Tries To Download Nude Captain Janeway
Comic Book Guy Is a big Star Trek Voyager fan. Fox, Screen Cap via Frinkiac

This is a subplot of the season nine episode whose main story involves a bus accident stranding the kids on a deserted island. Back home, Homer learns that Flanders has had success selling religious hook rugs online. So Homer decides to start his own internet business. He never quite figures out what he’s selling, but he doesn’t need to because Bill Gates shows up to buy him out. Comic Book Guy appears online again, this time waiting for a naked picture of Star Trek Voyager Captain Janeway to download. 

06
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1999: Internet Spies - "Beyond Blunderdome"

Comic Book Guy - Internet Spy
Comic Book Guy caught with a computer in a movie. Fox, Screen Cap Via Frinkiac

When Mel Gibson came to Springfield to show his remake of Mr. Smith Goes To Washington, Comic Book Guy tries to sneak into the early screening to write a review. They're onto him though and they throw him and his desktop computer on the street. By the time Mr. Smith opens, with Homer's alternate ending, Comic Book Guy has upgraded to a laptop strapped over his shoulders.

07
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1999: Cyber Cafes - "Thirty Minutes Over Tokyo"

Snake Robs the Java Server
A late '90s cyber cafe on The Simpsons. Fox, Screen Cap Via Recapguide.com

The kids take Homer to a cyber cafe to teach him about the Internet. Also in the cafe, we catch Groundskeeper Willie checking out an upkilt website. The criminal Snake holds up the cafe and downloads all of Homer's savings. This leads to the rest of the episode in which The Simpsons take a budget conscious trip to Japan. 

08
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2000: Gossip Blogs - "The Computer Wore Menace Shoes"

Homer Simpsons Becomes a Blogger
Homer Simpson starts a gossip blog. Fox, Screen Cap via Simpsonsworld.com

Homer’s had so many jobs that one episode had a joke where he listed all the jobs he’d had until that point. One of his jobs was gossip blogger, and this was only in 2000. He predates TMZ and Gawker. Homer runs out of local gossip to expose so he eventually starts making up news. Good thing no real blogger ever got caught doing that, right? This episode also includes a timely dig on the anti-vaccination movement. Flanders admits he didn’t vaccinate, and his sons Rod and Tod are shown shivering. 

09
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2002: Web Animation And Startups - "I Am Furious Yellow"

The Simpsons Spoof Internet Startups
An internet startup in Springfield. Fox, Screen Cap Via Frinkiac

Bart writes a comic book based on Homer called “Angry Dad,” which subsequently turns into a web animation series. This becomes a great spoof of the 2001 dot com bubble, right on time for season 13. The company that produces “Angry Dad” also makes such hits as “Bin Laden in a Blender.” They give out stock like toilet paper, but it’s worthless and they quickly go belly up. “Angry Dad” returns in season 22 when Hollywood makes an Angry Dad movie. 

10
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2003: Webcam - "Barting Over"

Homer Simpson Watches Webcam
When Bart hangs out with Tony Hawk, it's online!. Fox, Screen Cap Via Simpsons Wikia

When Bart gets legally emancipated in The Simpsons'  300th episode, he moves into a downtown loft adjacent to Tony Hawk's skate park. Homer can only watch on webcam as Bart hangs out with Hawk and his cool skateboarders. Later in Season 16's "Home Away From Homer," Ned unknowingly rents out a room to two college girls who run webcam shows at SexySlumberParty.com.

11
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2003: Mockery Websites - "'Scuse Me Will I Miss The Sky"

Skinner-in-a-shredder.com
Like Frog in a Blender but Simpsonized!. Fox, Screen Cap Via Simpsons Wikia

At the beginning of the episode, Principal Skinner reminds the students not to use the school computers to visit websites mocking him. He lists PrincipalSkinnerStinks.com, SkinnerSucks.org and Shavetheskinner.edu, but Bart finds Skinner-in-a-shredder.com. The rest of the episode is about something completely different.

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2005: Viral Videos - "Homer and Ned's Hail Mary Pass"

Homer's Viral Video Catches On With Athletes
Guest stars galore in "Homer And Ned's Hail Mary Pass". Fox

In the season 16 SuperBowl episode, a video of Homer dancing goes viral and all the superstar athletes hire him to choreograph their victory dances. It’s really a message about bad sportsmanship, but the subtext is that viral videos celebrate the worst of human behavior. To counteract Homer’s success, Flanders begins filming bible movies. This episode also reveals Comic Book Guy’s real name, never to be mentioned again. 

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2005: Online Ordainment - "There's Something About Marrying"

Homer Simpson Gets Ordained Online
Homer's Internet Divinity School. Fox, Screen Cap Via FXNOW

Just two weeks after "Homer and Ned's Hail Mary Pass," The Simpsons aired their landmark gay marriage episode. In it, Homer gets ordained online so he can perform weddings in Springfield. The town also uses the website www.springfieldisforgayloversofmarriage.com to alert couples they can marry in Springfield.

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2007: MMORPGs - "Marge Gamer"

Bart and Marge in a MMORPG
Bart and Marge as MMORPG characters. Fox, via Simpsonsworld.com

In season 18, Marge still did not have e-mail. When she finally went online, she discovered the massively multiplayer online role-playing game Earthland Realms, a spoof of World of Warcraft. There are some great jokes about the gamers playing in inappropriate places like the toilet or in the bathtub. Everyone from Springfield is in there as a fantasy version of their characters. When Bart loses a battle, his jewels come out of his crotch. Very subtle satire there. 

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2008: GPS - "Lost Verizon"

Bart Simpson Steals Denis Leary's Cell Phone
Bart Simpsons steals Denis Leary's Cell Phone. TCFFC

By season 20, all the kids in Springfield had cell phones, just like in real life. Well, except for Bart. Bart steals Denis Leary's cell phone and Leary teaches Marge how to use the phone's GPS to track her delinquent son. Funny enough, the 2002 song "You'll Never Stop The Simpsons" joked about doing an episode where Moe gets a cell phone. Six years later, they decided it would be Bart instead.

16
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2008: iPods - "Mypods and Boomsticks"

Lisa Gets a MyPod
Lisa strikes a familiar pose. Fox, Screen Cap via Comicrelief.wordpress.com

As technology advanced, we’ve been able to access the internet without a computer, using other devices that connect via wifi or data. By season 20, the iPod had already been around for nearly a decade, but it took that long for Lisa to get the Simpsonized version, the MyPod. Lisa got a little overzealous purchasing music from MyTunes and got a bill for $1200. Later, MyPod technology advanced too and the tablet version, the MyPad, has appeared in The Simpsons as well.

17
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2009: Online Dating - "Eeny Teeny Maya Moe"

Moe Uses Online Dating On The Simpsons
Moe chats on Single-In-Springfield.com. Fox, Screen Cap Via Simpsons Sikia

Moe turns to Single-In-Springfield.com to find a date. The woman he meets turns out to be a little person, something that wasn't clear from her pictures online. Unlike real online dating where people deceptively manipulate their photos, this was an innocent mistake and they actually hit it off quite well. It's only Moe's behavior that makes Maya a temporary guest star in only this episode and not a regular fixture on The Simpsons.

18
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2009: Cell Phones In School - "Bart Gets A Z"

Bart Gets A Z
A cool new teacher embraces cell phones and internet. Fox, Screen Cap Via YouTube.com/FHEFoxNetworkV

When Bart gets Mrs. Krabappel fired, the cool new teacher makes the classroom paperless. He frowns on learning things that could easily be Googled, and even teaches lessons via texts and e-mailing videos. 

19
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2011: Food Blogs - "The Food Wife"

The Simpsons Become Food Bloggers
With celebrity chef guest stars. TCFFC

In season 23, Marge, Bart and Lisa become food bloggers, staking The Simpsons’ claim to yet another technological advance. This also allowed The Simpsons to do another spoof of restaurants after Homer became a food critic. Back in Homer’s day, there were newspapers to run restaurant reviews! Remember newspapers? This episode also begins with a great spoof of the video game convention E3. It’s E4, and Bart finishes a game during the demo that was supposed to take 100 hours and cost the designer his marriage. 

20
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2012: Social Media - "The D'oh-cial Network"

Armie Hammer As The Winklevii
Armie Hammer reprises his Social Network role. TCFFC

Later in season 23, Lisa invented social media for Springfield. With SpringFace, Lisa can have 1000 friends online, and even the adults get into it. The Simpsons skewer people addicted to their phones by showing Springfieldians use it in church and while driving. Homer hits poor Hans Moleman with his car, but Hans was also not watching the road while he crossed the street while texting on SpringFace. What Lisa realizes is that everyone is addicted to SpringFace so they still won’t play with her in real life. Armie Hammer cameos as the Winklevoss twins from The Social Network, and you can also catch Lisa using Steve Jobs’ early Lisa computer. 

21
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2012: Angry Texts - "How I Wet Your Mother"

Homer Simpson Receives Angry Texts
Homer Simpson receives angry texts. Fox, Screen Cap Via FXNOW

When Homer gets the entire nuclear power plant in trouble for stealing office supplies, they all send him angry texts. It’s a single joke but it tells us that in 23 seasons, Homer has gone mobile and uses the texting feature on his phone. The rest of the episode is an Inception parody.

22
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2013: Ashley Madison - "Dangers On a Train"

Marge Accidentally Joins An Adultery Dating Site
Marge joins SassyMadison.com by mistake. TCFFC

Marge accidentally joins the website SassyMadison.com when she mistakes it for a snack cake manufacturer. She ends up having an online conversation with a married man (Seth MacFarlane), but don't worry, she still ends up with Homer in the end. Good thing too. If she'd stayed on Sassy Madison, perhaps her account information would have been hacked. 

23
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2014: Torrenting - "Steal This Episode"

Homer Simpson's Bootleg Movie Theater
Leslie Mann and Paul Rudd star in Judd Apatow's latest. TCFFC

Homer discovers movie piracy via bit torrent websites. The episode overall is a parody of the rampant piracy of Hollywood movies, and a bit of parody of some of the movies themselves. The vehicle for it is torrenting, and how easy it is for an idiot like Homer and a troublemaker like Bart to do it. 

24
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2014: FacelOOk - "Blazed and Confused"

Bart and Milhouse Use FacelOOk
Bart and Milhouse use FacelOOk. Fox, Screencap via FXNOW

Lisa took down SpringFace at the end of “The D’Oh-cial Network.” By season 26, all of Springfield uses FacelOOk. Bart and Milhouse use it to crate a fake profile for Mrs. Hoover to spy on their intimidating substitute (Willem Dafoe). This is where they discover that he attends Blazing Guy, the Simpsonized version of Burning Man

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2015: Ride Sharing - My Fare Lady

Marge Drives for a Ride Share Service
The Simpsons Tackle Ride Sharing. TCFFC

Marge becomes a driver for a ride-sharing app that puts the Springfield taxi drivers out of business. The focus of the episode is on the driving, but we have to acknowledge that it is mobile apps that even allow ride-sharing to exist, and therefore allow The Simpsons to mock them!

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2016: Social Media Consequences - "The Girl Code"

Lisa's Social Media Prediction App
Lisa's app predicts the consequences of socail media posts. TCFFC

Let’s face it, people post stupid things on social media, things that should stay private. The Simpsons learned this lesson before the rest of the world. In season 27, Marge’s innocent FacelOOk joke gets Homer fired. This inspires Lisa to create an app to warn you before you post something you shouldn’t online. If only we really had this kind of technology in real life. Also note that when Mr. Burns smashes his MyPad tablet, a NSA chip crawls away from the wreckage. Thanks, Edward Snowden

27
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2016: Grindr and The Apple Watch - "The Burns Cage"

The Burns Cage
You can't see but Smithers is wearing an Apple Watch. TCFFC

The season 27 episode “The Burns Cage” was notable for allowing Mr. Smithers to be openly gay and date. It also features from online technology. First, Homer uses the Grinder (not Grindr) app to find Smithers a date. Then we see Smithers himself uses an Apple Watch, or at least what looks like one. It’s probably a Mapple Watch in The Simpsons, but still.

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2016: Homer Texting Bart - "How Lisa Got Her Marge Back"

Bart Simpson in
Bart Simpson in "How Lisa Got Her Marge Back". TCFFC

Texting has become so commonplace that Homer will send a text to Bart in the middle of a scene as a throwaway joke. He refers to Marge as Genghis Mom, haha. More to come I'm sure!

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Topel, Fred. "The Simpsons Go Online - Internet And Social Media In Springfield." ThoughtCo, Aug. 22, 2016, thoughtco.com/the-simpsons-go-online-4026579. Topel, Fred. (2016, August 22). The Simpsons Go Online - Internet And Social Media In Springfield. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/the-simpsons-go-online-4026579 Topel, Fred. "The Simpsons Go Online - Internet And Social Media In Springfield." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/the-simpsons-go-online-4026579 (accessed November 18, 2017).