Technology is a scary thing.
Not that that's some kind of radical train of thought; after all, the above statement can usually be caught as it's growled off the lips of a technophobe trying to wrangle bandwith for the very first time, or through the rhetoric of political minds that have been set adrift in the sea of modern times, doomed to float in confusion 'til they're sunk.
But I think there's a deeper truth to it. Not just paranoia or ersatz nihilism. No, as I've come to be suckled at the teat of electronic milk and its goods and evils, I realized the moment I set fingertips to noisy keyboard that there was truth to be extracted here.
Technology isn't a scary thing. Technology and people? That's a scary thing. Technology and stupid people? Downright horrific.
Wireheads like to rubah on about how the integration of Web technology into a hundred million homes has brought society "closer together". How it's "opening a gateway to the future". How it's "making information readily available" to the hollow heads of the social pool.
Not to rip a perfectly good catchphrase from Saint Nuke, but a good spin on a bad thing is still utter bollocks. The expansion of the internet is a beautiful sign of modern times, a promise that future generations will be so familiarized with computers and their virtues that medical and scientific advances will be utterly quantified. Cancer will be cured. Famine? Screw that antiquated idea. The stars are at our kid brother's and sister's fingertips.
But as for our generation, I'm beginning to believe that they're pretty much fucked. Perhaps sideways. Or standing. Or standing sideways. I like my analogies of handing various objects to simians as much as the next guy, but nothing quite connects with handing a chimpanzee a loaded shotgun and a gingko booster shot as giving the ability to be seen and heard to some dipshit suburb-lite who read a few Kerouac poems and considers it a Golden Ticket to the vaunted Lunatic Fringe.
The Internet gives faux' outsiders and mopey nothings the ability to perceive themselves as Gods, 'cause, quite frankly, nobody's invented a way to upload a fist. You can irritate the shit out of hobbyists and idle modem jockeys like you only wish you could while sloughing through the halls of George Washington High School in Anytown, U.S.A--all you need is a thesaurus, lots of idle time, and a group of five or six friends. Similar ideologies are optional. Good typing is as well. Frequent references to how terribly fucked up your life is and how close you are to suicide are definite requirements.
I think so. We all start somewhere--uneducated roadkill, festering on the shoulder of the Internet while IPO hotshots and pinky-flaring brainjobs tootle by on their T-1 lines. I was stupid, too. Then I realized that nobody online particularly gives a right-fisted fuck whether or not I was depressed and in a rut, and if they did, I'd prefer not to be associating with them. Interest in evolution is the first step to real freak status. Realizing that you're probably full of shit is the second.
But regardless, to the uninitiated, the concept of Internet clout can be fairly intimidating. You may know the story: Stretching that curled little toe towards the unbroken and mirror-smooth surface of a new medium, neurotic about your lack of online credibility or education.. clicking on a chat room.. slipping through a message board and its consequent streams.. and running face-first into some loserlicious fucknut and his resident clique.
Did I say clique? Oh. Oh, yes. In case you haven't noticed, malcontents of all levels of conviction can create glee clubs and bash on hapless passerby, just so long as they have the benefit of being unseen. If the element of sight were added to the equation, you'd be too busy either sniggering at the way their neck is interrupted by a right angle, or choking the living shit out of them to care whether or not they approve of your syntax. Technology may be a weapon and a boon, but it makes those who are naturally high on their own brilliance real, real brave, real, real fast.
For the benefit of those still lagging through the zig-zag thought train of this article, I have taken the initiative in piecing together a reference chart--one quick glance at the text provided below, and you'll be able to make a fast identification of what kind of online asshole you've stumbled across.
Liken it to Pokemon, except with more zits and Hot Topic receipts.
The Mundane Idiot
Identifying Signs: Unrelenting discussion about their favorite topic in completely inappropriate rooms--namely, themselves.
Find Them: Roleplaying rooms, Teen Chats, any Fan Room featuring the name of some useless tissue-paper pop sensation.
The Skinny: Forget trying to shut this one up. Dismiss any hopes of rationality. It should be obvious from the gratuitous usage of such brilliant euphemisms as "::slapz::" "::gigglez::" and "::smirkz::" that you are dealing with a cause that isn't merely lost; it doesn't even register on the charts. If more than one of these blathering morons fills a room, your best bet is to bail. Quickly.
Identifying Signs: This isn't a hard one to nail; just look for the guy who thinks he's better than you.
Find Them: Roleplaying rooms. Teen Chats. Any and all IRC channels.
The Skinny: Out to change the world and without even the most basic concepts on how to do it. The Radical is a mutation of The Mundane Idiot, aged a few years and now fully convinced that he has unlocked the nuances of online immortality. His presence will almost always be completely unrelated to the room in which he's chosen to make his habitat: if it's a roleplaying room, you'll never see him roleplay, and if it's a chat based on a specific topic, he'll never have a thing to say concerning it. He'll condescend to anyone who tries to approach him, so don't bother. Simply laugh at the big words and move on. You'll love yourself for it later.
The Clique Artist
Identifying Signs: Not only does he think he's better than you; he KNOWS he is. And he's got the friends to prove it.
Find Them: Like any good virus, they refuse to be quarantined to specific topics.
The Skinny: A skewed bridge between the good, the bad, and the just plain stupid, The Clique Artist can stand on its own implied cyber-legs, or represent a leap in online social status for either of the classifications above. The Clique Artist participates in every form of random online stupidity; flame wars, chat interruptions, cutesy interplays about things you neither care nor want to know about; the only problem is that they've realized the universal truth. There's strength in numbers.
In chat rooms where traffic is a constant, it's difficult to stand up to any majority, no matter how punitive their numbers may be. This is no exception. Though there is medicine for this disease, and it may save your faith in mankind: in the real world, majorities can block doorways and harass you with their beliefs. In the online world, they can't do a damn thing but kvetch. If you're bored enough, take 'em all on at once. Trust me, they'll be riled up when you don't scuttle out of their line of fire for a hell of a lot longer than you'll be.
The Drama Queer
Note: The above euphemism is meant to infer anyone who plays willing victim to happenstance, dramatics, misfortune or any other fact of daily life. It is no way meant to offend or indicate lifestyle choices. Now, keep reading--you know how being PC gives me a goddamn rash.
Identifying Signs: Someone's dumped someone, and the world is ending! Suicide is nigh! Talk me out of it before I do something desperate!
Find Them: Here's a better one: try to AVOID finding them.
The Skinny: Perhaps one of the most obnoxious advantages to the online revolution is that, day or night, rain, snow, or fireballs from the sky, you will ALWAYS be able to find someone to talk to. Or someone to force yourself upon in moments of empty desperation. That, my friends, is where this fine example of agitation comes in.
The warning signs are elementry. You're sitting there, minding your own business, when you're either lambasted by caps or excessive amounts of swearing and/or self-loathing in the middle of your screen. You may feel the urge to get involved. You may feel pity.
Trust me. There's no need.
Think about it--the last time you were divorced, had your car stolen, or your house burned down, who was the first person you went to for support? The computer? Or an actual, flesh and blood organism? Whatever the hell this milksop is slobbering on about is bullshit; chances are, their online beau dumped them for another faceless line of text and they feel like pouring metal shavings into the gears of chat in their misguided angst. Reject your natural urge to get involved, and instead chomp some popcorn and get a cheap laugh as some other poor shmuck tries to talk good sense and gets capped at for his trouble.
Identifying Signs: They know everyone's name but yours. When you've stumbled into their hive, you'll realize it immediately.. just like Cheers, but without the actual presence of human beings.
Find Them: Trivia, Ultima Online, anywhere that there's a rank or a number to achieve, or a classification to brandish in your mug.
The Skinny: If you've ever spent any extended amount of time in the heirarchy of a small town, then you'll recognize this one right off the bat. They thrive on knowing things that you don't and creating the general sensation that you've missed the invention of sliced bread and the best goddamn party since the clock turned over to triple zeroes. The crumpling of your gut and instinct to befriend this charismatic individual is to be expected--after all, everyone seems to know this person, and they haven't missed a sortie of Movie Quotes Trivia in five fucking years.. what isn't to envy?
Word to the wise, or marginally intelligent: repress the beast. They don't know a damn thing worth trying to find out, and if they did, they sure as hell wouldn't be in the dredges of the chat room world trying to figure out which flick the word "Groovy" was immortalized in.
Identifying Signs: Mentions of dates, tenures, antiquities or otherwise in online protocols or profiles; a reliancy on length of online membership in every imaginable adversity.
Find Them: Much like the Drama Queer, they can't be escaped. In every facet of online existence, there's some jackass who's been there longer than you, and is really a bit too proud of it.
The Skinny: You have to realize at this point that there's really nothing that you can hold onto when it comes to trying to prove yourself better than some newbie who's fresh off the last major mail-out for membership CDs. If you can't rely on your friends, or your piddling little problems, or your phantom connections, then what the hell CAN you fall back on for status?
Your born-on date. Of course.
What makes something valuable, other than demand? AGE. The baseball cards that were hot to trot ten years ago will always be the yardstick by which modern collectable cardboard is measured, so that principle should naturally be integrated in here. Right? If I've been online seven years, my opinion should be like hickory to that punk newcomers' brittle glass statements and arguments.
As much of a contradiction to natural law that this may seem, the only thing that length of online existence proves is what a dipshit you are for spending twenty bucks a month to get your rocks off for X amount of time. If you had a purpose to be online, you'd have found it by around the third year--and as a word to the truly uninitiated, those of us who've really been around since Q-Link was the vogue would never mention it aloud. Especially around viable members of the opposite sex.
Anyways, this sucker is hardly worth your time. There's nothing.. and Steve Case would agree with me, despite his obvious agenda.. cool about being online for any amount of time that instantly identifies you for social leprosy.
The Delusional Creator
Identifying Signs: Check a profile. Is there the name of a production company, trademark, copyright or restriction symbol on anything within it? Congratulations.
Find Them: Any place where fankids roam, you'll find hallucinations of grandeur.
The Skinny: As everyone knows, any idea worth stealing has to be the product of some lethargic online slug. To believe the wisdom of these dolts is to be introduced to the online realm of psychotic delusions--that EVERYONE is out to steal EVERY SINGLE FUCKING IDEA of EVERY BRILLIANT PERSON who has taken all of ten minutes out of their day to think up some roleplaying character that they can use as an excuse to get some cyber-bone.
So what's a hapless artist being affronted by bastard plagarists on every front to do? Naturally, make up some production company and tack it to your profile. If mailing a worthwhile idea or creation to yourself is a poor man's copyright, then this stupid shit is the equivilent of a wino sipping paint thinner.
Hard facts, here, kids. a) Nobody gives a fuck about your ideas. If they did, you'd be getting paid for them. b) A production company has about as much credibility as the male skeezer using it as pickup line at any Los Angeles gobo-spot. c) If anyone did steal your ideas, you'd probably never know about it--know why? Because you never sign off the computer. Sniff it, it makes sense.
The best thing I can say about this kind of crap is to aspire to -never- do it yourself.
The Clueless One
Identifying Signs: age/sex check LMAOROFL!!!!!! shut up u fuckng faggit
Find Them: Like termites and cockroaches and air pollution, they saturate every pore of a host system or existence.
The Skinny: This kinda person is a lost cause--like the rookie who never realized that you're supposed to shut the hell up and learn through the first few days of hard knocks school, and is forever doomed to mockery because of it. The Clueless One tosses out poorly spelled expletives, racial slurs, commentary and anything else that crosses the sweat on their cro-magnon foreheads. Ignore them. And while you're at it, savor the fact that the only real social excrement in cyberspace is probably the guy who gets laid the most. Truth is very, very sad.
And if you ever need reassurance that you are a valid, interesting, beautiful person who has a long life wasted in chat rooms and scanning advertising banners ahead of you, simply repeat this mantra: You could probably kick the living shit out of the guy insulting you, if nothing else. Grandmas and seven-year-olds included.
Hey, I said that truth was sad.