NSFW: THE WORST OF THE WEB

[Ed. Note: The Internet is a terrifying, depraved, evil place populated by monsters who love nightmares (looking at you, faithful readers). Our staff blogger Phillip knows all about it—he is one of you, a fellow monster. Phillip loves spelunking in the Internet, looking for the worst humanity has to offer, and every Sunday he’ll check in with us to talk about the horrors he’s explored and enjoyed since his last post. W is only the beginning of the things this is NSF. This week’s awful subject: 4chanonymous]

Even the most pathetically far gone soul that scours the internet knows not to start ranting to the neighbors. This is real life—we live with rules of etiquette, and it’s not polite to recount your latest depraved web ventures, entertaining as they might be, to just anyone who will listen. No one wants to hear about that sweet jailbait thread you found last night on Something Awful. Epic stories about animal porn and feces only get you weird looks and restraining orders. The result is a buffer of silence that envelopes these purveyors of internet insanity when they step out of their homes.

That’s why I get excited when I spot a fellow net crawler like myself. They don’t try to make their presence known but there are subtle signs one can pick up on. Often it will be a simple little slip of the tongue, an insertion of what could be random nonsense to the uninitiated ear.

A few days ago, somebody in my class made an off-hand comment about playing the game. He probably meant something like the game of life or The Game by Neil Strauss but upon hearing that comment, a guy in an army jacket sitting in front of me quietly murmured to himself, “You just lost.” (For those who don’t know what the hell I’m talking about, look here) Once you pick up on a signal like that, it’s easy to make friends. Knowing the lingo automatically creates a strong link. All it takes from there to coax out their true wild side is to name-drop some familiar memes with a nice helping of friendly banter. Soon enough that dude in the army jacket, who had barely said a word all semester, was raving about drugs and zombies to me and everyone else in earshot.

Saying “ITTY BITTY BABY, ITTY BITTY BOAT” and then waiting for the ubiquitous “I don’t believe it!” used to be a good way of flushing out the /b/tards from a forum, classroom or crowded elevator.

People can be like hermit crabs—they’ll come out when they feel safe and accepted. And that’s exactly why /b/tards (regular posters in 4chan’s “random” section) and other denizens of the seedier places of the internet like to stay under the radar. They trade pornography, they are capable of committing horrible acts of cruelty, they can gang up and destroy somebody’s life, and yet they feel like exposing their questionable net lives to the real world is a serious breach in security that will result in being ostracized by their peers. Admitting to a regular diet of 4chan and Mucho Sucko is like admitting to meeting up every Tuesday with a few sweaty guys and going dungeon crawling with your level 43 half-elf druid. Embarrassment is only the beginning.

Despite the clear obstacles to meeting my internet brethren, I’ve still got a scattered handful of confirmed web subversives that I know. What I find most interesting is the sheer range and variety of these people. There’s no true stereotype to follow. Contrary to popular belief, 4chan is not primarily comprised of 14 year old boys. I won’t name names but I can tell you, we’re men, women, metal heads, bookworms, bros, hoes, and in some cases just normal looking people you pass by without notice every day. We are indistinguishable from the rest of you, but let me assure you, we are there. There’s probably some sitting amongst you right now, picking up on some kind of unspoken frequency, laughing at dead babies while you continue with your daily grind.

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