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Lazy Guide to Net Culture: Dark side of the rainbow

If you want to appear like you're at the cutting edge of net culture but can't be bothered to spend hours online, then never fear. Scotsman.com's pathetic team of geeks, freaks and gimps will do the hard work for you. While you sip wine, read a book or engage in normal social interaction, they will burn out their retinas staring at badly designed web pages and dodge creeps in chatrooms to prepare for you: Scotsman.com's lazy guide to net culture.

Someone always has to spoil it for everbody else. Some idiot has to come along and spit in your coffee.

So it is in real life, so it is with the internet.

Take email. A perfectly good global communication tool, able to send messages and documents around the world in the blink of an eye. But rather than leave it at that, some greedy venal son of a harlot's pig had to invent spam. Now, instead of living in a world blessed with the free flow of information and ideas, I have to sit down every morning and wade through hundreds of messages offering to make bits of me bigger or give me African millions.

Yes, there is a dark side to the rainbow of the net. (Not to be confused with the stoners' favourite, Dark Side of the Rainbow where you synchronise listening to Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon with watching The Wizard of Oz. I haven't tried it myself being as I have what is commonly known as "a life".)

And that dark side of the web is populated not by munchkins but by extremists, loonies, green inkies and perverts. Sometimes I fervently wish that someday a real rain will come and wash all this scum off the web. But then I remember that if that happened then the internet would consist of precisely 107 pages, all of them showing pictures of kittens.

Some people embrace the horror and surrender themselves totally to screwing up the web for everyone else.

In this they are much like cultists from HP Lovecraft's works, giving themselves to chaos and destruction because they think it is inevitable. (HP and his work are wonderfully sent up - along with any religion's zealous recruiting drives - at the Campus Crusade for Cthulhu site.)

Unlike the cultists from HP Lovecraft's works, people who wreck the web are spotty adolescents in dire need of "a damn good kicking".

Such people include trolling organisations. These are individuals who delight in flooding web bulletin boards with crass and offensive comments (aka "crapflooding"). One such group goes under the spectacularly offensive name of the "Gay Nigger Association" - revealing themselves to be insecure white kids who have worries about their own orientation.

So why do they bother?

A clue is provided by its UK branch claiming "responsibility for killing 3000 Blogs": "It's due to our persistent shitflooding and blogbashing efforts that we can claim this spectacular victory over a major epicentre of retardery!"

As well as being plukey, insecure adolescents, some of the people who indulge in these acts may be seeking to combat the large amount of stupidity on the web as well as just making mischief. This is, in itself, not such a ridiculous aim. (Having said that, if you removed all the webpages about people's kittens you'd only be left with the really twisted stuff.)

For instance, one troller, known as Klerck, was the "brains" behind the spoof petition to have the Lord of the Rings film The Two Towers renamed because its title was too close to the twin towers of the World Trade Centre destroyed on 9/11.

"Those of us who have seen The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring know what an amazing director Peter Jackson is. When I learned that there apparently was to be a sequel, I was overjoyed. However, Peter Jackson has decided to tastelessly name the sequel "The Two Towers". The title is clearly meant to refer to the attacks on the World Trade Center. In this post-September 11 world, it is unforgiveable that this should be allowed to happen. The idea is both offensive and morally repugnant. Hopefully, when Peter Jackson and, more importantly, New Line Cinema see the number of signatures on this petition, the title will be changed to something a little more sensitive."

Now this was patent nonsense, but it created an international media furore. That individual bit of mischief-making was a cutting comment on how the media and the net work. But most trollers just post reams of crap on other people's websites.

The more astute among you will have noticed a flaw in the logic here. You can't reduce the amount of stupidity on the web by being more stupid than anybody else.

 
 
 

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