Monday, November 2, 2009

What the internet has taught me

My friends are sitting around talking; they are deeply offended, disgusted and disappointed in their peers. I meanwhile sit in the back of the room; I am unaffected, unsurprised, and unconcerned. Why is this?

About a year ago there was a little site which you may have heard of: Juicy Campus. Juicy Campus allowed users on college campuses to post rumors and gossip completely anonymously. The site expanded and grew and soon it became hot issue on our campus. One of the golden rules of the internet states that if you give someone the ability to be anonymous and have an audience, they become a massive idiot. Juicy Campus was the place to find all things terrible, from discussions of which girls were most promiscuous to which fraternity’s had the most jerks. No one was safe, people would log on with both a sense of interest and fear. People were interested to see whose good name would be slandered each day but were fearful that said good name would be theirs.

It didn’t take long for Juicy Campus to grow even more offensive and disgusting. Soon the internet reared its bad side and racist threads began to show up. Threads posted talking about how much they hated Niggers, coons and blacks in general. This truly shocked people, a lot of people were disgusted by this, and they were amazed that they were going to school with racists. I was not shocked or disgusted.

It’s the internet.

When you boil it down the internet is mainly a place for people to look at porn and offend people. It’s what God and Al Gore intended when they built it back in the 90s. Occasionally people use the internet for other activities such as buying merchandise and keeping in touch with friends. I pretty much grew up with the internet, and have found out a few things about it.

1. Normal people become idiots on the internet. As I alluded to earlier something about being relatively anonymous makes people a lot bolder and braver. They are more willing to express their opinions and their thoughts. Unfortunately most people are idiots and most of their thoughts are best kept to themselves.

2. No one can kick your ass via the internet, yet. The internet is great for the passive aggressive types. Afraid to talk trash to someone’s face? Worried about expressing your opinions for fear of physical repercussions? The internet has all of your problems sorted. Say whatever you like no matter how racist or offensive it is. It’s easy to be a tough guy on the internet.

3. Offending people is apparently fun. There are some people in this world who love to watch people get upset. These people are called trolls, they enjoy going into forums, and internet communities and posting comments for the simple purpose of upsetting people and getting a reaction. The more people respond to what a troll posts, the more satisfied the troll is.

4. The internet is home to the most shocking, horrifying and depraved content in the world. Tub girl, goatse, and Two Girls One Cup are just a few of the things I encourage you NOT to Google or seek out more information on (Honestly do not). Just when you thought you have seen the most terrible and disturbing things in your life the internet is here to show you that there is worse. If you spend enough time on the internet you will find content which truly shocks you regardless of if you seek it out or not. Eventually the threshold of what you find truly disturbing gets raised as the internet shows you more and more of what it has to offer.

In all honesty I could go on much longer about what the internet has taught me, but it’s clear to see why I was not shocked by the racist threads on Juicy Campus. As a user of the internet I had come to expect the sort of content which Juicy Campus contained, it was simply the way things are on the internet.

Typing that however makes me sad, and feel slightly empty. Perhaps my time on the internet has simply pulled the wool over my eyes and masked what was a troll or someone who truly hated black people. I can only take comfort in knowing that regardless of the internet that racists will still be racists, and people will still have opinions that differ from my own. The whole Juicy Campus situation did expose however how far the internet had raised my ability to not be shocked in comparison to my peers. My only advice to you dear reader is to tread lightly as there is fucked up stuff in this world, and the easiest way to find it is sitting right in front of you.

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