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What a wonderful world
by SundaySmash

Kevin's commentary on LOL N00B:

We live in a society governed by laws and social expectations for human conduct where people generally behave towards each other with a certain level of civility. Whenever a person channels their essence via mouse into the world of digital information and electronic communication, all of this evaporates. Imagine a zoo unsupervised by keepers with all the cages open and the animals free to rampage, rape, and devour each other as well as any unfortunate human visitors who may be trapped inside. What I've just given you is the best allegory I can think of for the functioning of internet message boards. Just be glad that once you log out, your nightmare is over. Someday, such boundaries may not exist.

I'm not anywhere close to the first person to propose that the anonymity inherent with the internet is a catalyst for uncharacteristically hostile behavior in what is otherwise a normal, rational human being. In no other place are the laws of the animal kingdom so much at the forefront of a manmade institution. The pecking orders that come to be on the internet make high school clique rivalries seem tame by comparison. The savagery a community displays towards a newcomer is more severe than a pack of wolves to the deer that strayed from the herd. Hazing on par with what you may find in a Phi Kappa Beergut basement ensues directed at these unfortunate "noobs." Forget college degrees and related work experience/references - if you want a job, the first thing an employer should look for on a resume is if you were able to successfully insert yourself into one of these communities. Are you a fast paced team player? That tells you all about a person that you need to know.

Finding the right message board is an arduous process in and of itself. You may think to yourself, "You know what? I really like My Chemical Romance." And why wouldn't you? You're probably a teenager with poor taste. So you find a message board for fans of My Chemical Romance only to discover that people are discussing anything but My Chemical Romance. The first time you make a post, you ask what you believe to be an insightful related question, such as, "If you were making a playlist of only My Chemical Romance songs, which ones would you pick?" only to have a cascade of replies within the first three minutes, all of them containing a link to a thread on this exact subject from six months ago, how dare you not know of this, GTFO. Perhaps someone will make a hurtful joke about your screen name, pnutcutternjelly, which you toiled so long over. So what is this fun loving bunch discussing instead of the band this community was developed around? In all likelihood, it's that they're bisexual and their best friend (who is also their love interest) is not.

The truth is, I used to relish these environments, or ecosystems if you will. I had boards I would log onto daily. I am still in touch with some of the people I met. I don't have the patience or intestinal fortitude to place myself in this sort of situation anymore of course, but that has largely to do with having very little interest in spending my free time conversing with people who are, more likely than not, 15 year-olds. Their leetspeak conversations are like sandpaper rubbed vigorously against my eyes while English, the mother of my children and love of my life, is brutally eviscerated, screaming.

I'm actually relieved that high speed internet was not available to me until I reached 19 years of age. I didn't even have internet access until I was 17, and before I left for college I was stuck with 56k modem dial-up that disconnected so frequently that it made the use of message boards undesirable. This may sound hellish to today's youth, but I feel it improved my life - it means that my adolescent thoughts and opinions are mine and mine alone to know, rather than forever committed to html for the world to see. Sure I had to spend hours in libraries researching papers and use the telephone in my mom and dad's kitchen to call my friends on a Saturday night to make plans, but I still feel like I came out on top. To all of you who grew up with the internet, know that I feel a deep sorrow for you. I had it easy.

Message boards may be fun, but they are evidence that people keeping their true opinions and personalities reigned in really is what is best for the world. A world full of people controlled by the id is not a world I have any interest living in.

-Kevin