Here be fucktards

So, I’m in a friend’s room right now, providing moral support while she deals with the end-of-the-academic-semester paper crunch.  Since I’m not a student any more, I’m just quietly killing time.  Because there’s no cable TV here, I’m on my laptop watching a live streaming feed of tonight’s UFC fights.

Yeah, that’s right: Ultimate Fighting Championship.  Mixed martial arts is all butch and manly and athletic and whatnot, and therefore I’m all butch and manly and athletic and whatnot.  Actually, I’m just hopelessly addicted to UFC’s reality show, but regardless, I’m pretty stoked for the fights tonight, which include the final bout from this season of the show.  It’s a relative newbie who’s in great shape versus a veteran who has a giant flabby jiggly belly.  My money is on the fit guy; my personal sense of aesthetics just can’t handle the possibility that someone in such terrible shape could win an athletic championship.

At any rate, I’m watching the fight online, on a live streaming feed from some dude’s blog, because I cant watch TV here.  The interesting thing about these live feeds is that they usually come with a live chat room; as the fight plays out, I can also read live commentary from several dozen random viewers.  And, this can be helpful.  How, after all, could I possibly enjoy the fight without such meaningful commentary as the following:

Guest38133  Kimbo rox lol!!1!
DoodyHowser  Gogogogog fatty!
Guest38017  Disculpeme. ¿Dónde está el fútbol?

Clearly, this kind of informed banter is crucial to understanding and appreciating the sport.  Because, really, I don’t think I could properly grasp the way a giant guy pummels another giant guy without someone to explain the subtleties.

But, what I’m actually writing this post about isn’t the commentary on the athletic event, but rather what happens instead of commentary about the athletic event.  Yes, some of the posters in that little sidebar are talking about the fight,  “Ooh, that looks like it hurt!” or “That’s it — it’s all over.”  But, a clear majority — well more than half — of the posts have little or nothing to do with the fight, and instead are pretty much just spontaneous race-baiting.  Every possible slur, slang, or stereotype is trotted out, repeatedly and emphatically, for no apparent motivation or gain except to see the words scroll down the chat feed in-between the spambots advertising porn sites and the occasional comments about the fight.  Also, all the fighters are gay.  So is everyone else in that chat room.  And their mothers.  Who are also whores.  This is unfortunate, because everyone else also has a tiny penis.  With which they hump men.  While their mother watches.

So, clearly the chat room for people watching the fight is an integral part of the fight experience.

Now, the natural reaction at this point is something to the effect of, “Well, yeah, of course UFC fans are going to be racist homophobic morons.  That just goes without saying.”  And, while I’d actually suggest that the mainstream appeal of UFC is now so entrenched that it’s unreasonable to stereotype its fans as under-evolved knuckledraggers, I’ll also admit that the UFC fans who are forced to watch the fights on a badly pirated online video stream in someone’s blog are probably not the pinnacle of the fan base in terms of resources and education.

(And, yes, I was in there watching the fight, too.  But, I could have been at home watching on my own television if it really mattered, or at a bar.  I’m sure some of the guys in that chat room could have done the same, but I bet a lot couldn’t, if only because their parents’ basement doesn’t have cable.)

And, if these guys were unique to online pirated UFC chat rooms, I might be inclined to blame the behaviour on the UFC crowd.  But, they’re not.  These guys are everywhere on the internet.  And, I obviously don’t just mean these specific guys (although I do wonder how much of what’s wrong with the internet is really just seven jerks who really get around), but people like them.  The internet is just full of ridiculous, hateful fucktards.

Of course, lots of people use the internet all the time without running into the fucktards.  That’s because the internet, for all of its amazing reach and scope, is actually pretty confined when it comes to shared experiences.  Sure, we’re all using e-mail and Facebook, and visiting the same websites, but by-and-large we’re doing it in a vacuum.  Millions of people use Facebook or MySpace, but we’re only exposed to hundreds (thousands, for the popular or aggressively insecure) at any given time.  And, it’s only when you open yourself up to the rest of the internet in an unfiltered, unimpeded way that you start to notice that 90% of the people out there seem to be complete douches.

So, where are all these losers?  Well, they’re in the chat rooms of Ultimate Fighting Championship events, for one.  In fact, they’re in pretty much every online chat room you could ever go to.  They’re on just about every unmoderated (or under-moderated) online forum and message board.  They’re all over Youtube.  And, of course, they’re everywhere in video games; you can’t walk five paces in World of Warcraft without seeing the word “fag,” and the ridiculous and offensive babble that comes over the channel of any online deathmatch is enough to make you try to play without the voice chat.  But, then you get killed repeatedly because you have no way to communicate with your teammates, so the headset goes back on in order to properly co-ordinate strategy with the racist little twats.  In some circles, you simply can’t avoid this stuff.

However, I’m actually going to make a fairly bold claim, here.  All the fucktards who spew out the racist, homophobic, xenophobic, francophobic crap on the internet?  I don’t think most of them are actually racist, anti-gay, or über-nationalistic at all (although most probably do hate the French).  I think what they are, actually, is lonely and desperate.  Basically, they are little children who will do whatever it takes to be noticed, say anything no matter how messed-up or hurtful, just to get any attention at all, even negative attention.  And, at the same time, they pump their egos a little, because they got to pwn some random other dude on the internet, who got offended or pissed off.  They say what they say because they think it will have the biggest impact, not because they believe it.  Now, that’s not to propose that these people are all champions of the oppressed, either.  Most of them, I suspect, don’t give issues of race, gender, or ethnicity much thought either way.  I’m sure lots of them have the genuine small-mindedness that comes from leading a sheltered and narrow life, but that breeds ignorance, not hatred, and I’d suggest that those are actually pretty different things.  So, these fucktards say stupid things, not hateful things.  To the person on the receiving end both probably look the same, but the motivations are generally different.

My take is that these jerks on the internet are basically choosing their language the way a bully does.  The impressive thing about schoolyard taunting is its efficiency — the teasing always attacks the most prominent and vulnerable characteristic of the victim.  Is she ugly?  Then that’ll be the theme for the bullying.  He’s got a big nose?  There you go.  Talks with a stutter?  Bingo.  Can’t stop wetting herself?  Gold mine.

Does the bully really have anything against kids with big noses?  Of course not  (“An ugly stuttering man with a big nose who wet himself killed my pa!”  No).  But, if that’s what will make the little kid cry, then there you go.  And, of course, kids know perfectly well that if they want to go for the big insult, they need to pull out the kind of language that is controlled by federal legislation.  Does the bully really understand what he’s saying when he tosses outright slurs?  Not really.  But, he knows that the words hurt, and that they make people react, and that’s what the bully is aiming for.

So, these fucktards online, who throw out offensive language as fast as they can type it, they’re really just acting like little kids.  Are they the same bullies that plague schoolyards?  Hell no.  I imagine it’s just the opposite: I bet these guys on the internet are the victims of those bullies.  Abusive behaviour is cyclical, but it’s not like the big-nosed little kids on the playground get many opportunities to turn the tables in the same place they were targeted.  Instead, they use the anonymity of the internet to vent their desperate loser-rage, their clutching, driving need to be the center of attention and flex some muscles, on people who just want to see a fat guy lose to a fit guy in a mixed martial arts bout.

I’m actually going to take this one step further.  So far, I’ve talked about kids.  And, yeah, a lot of these fucktards are kids — you can hear it in the high-pitched prepubescent whinge of their homophobic slurs after you frag them in a round of Modern Warfare.  But, I think most of the people behaving badly on the internet are adults.  Beyond even that, I think most of them are regular, functioning adults, who would never dream of repeating that kind of behaviour in real life.  If a huge chunk of the people online are offensive jerks, then it’s simply not possible that every single one of them is a repressed social reject in the real world.  I think most of them are otherwise-well-behaved adults, who still have attention and insecurity issues from childhood (Not enough breast feeding.  Or, perhaps too much) and who see the anonymity of the internet as a safe opportunity to act like a first-class dickwit.

Yep, that’s right: the guy who got booted from the chat room for announcing in all-caps that Barack Obama is a gay Mexican Muslim who enjoys anal fisting?  That’s your boss.  Or, the person next to you on bus during the morning commute.  Or, the manager at the bank who approved your car loan.

The thing about the internet is that it’s almost entirely anonymous,  And, like at any good masked ball, people do things they absolutely wouldn’t do if they thought anyone might recognise them.  The internet gives the opportunity to be that unique, crazy guy who stands up in the middle of the office meeting, yells a rainbow of slurs, and then masturbates until the police drag him away thrashing and ranting.  We’ve all had moments where we wanted to just cut loose and explode, and the internet lets us do it safely, and anonymously.  And, like cheating on your wife by having a sexual instant-message affair with a frustrated college girl in another state, it doesn’t really count, because it’s on the internet.

The problem is that a lot of people do it, so it’s not special or unique.  Absurd slurs are so common online that no one even pays attention any more, and even if they wanted to they couldn’t because too many people are doing it to notice at the same time.  Instead of venting their repressed, personal demons, these folks just demonstrate that people aren’t very interesting, and tend to all have the same demon in the first place.  If everyone is special, that means no one is.

That frustrated college girl?  I think we all suspect it’s just a fat guy in his mom’s basement.  More likely?  It’s your boss, a fat guy in a private office two floors above yours.

The internet just brings out the worst in everyone.  It’s annoying not because there is so much legitimate hatred out there (although, there’s certainly plenty), but rather because it’s all gotten a little old, and trite.  Bad behaviour on the internet is a cliché; it’s been done.  The online experience has grown past its “I’m a college freshman and my mom’s not around and I can drink beer woo!” phase, but some people still haven’t figured it out.  Freedom is only freedom when it’s new — after that it’s just the way things are.

So, the worst thing about the internet isn’t the offensive losers, it’s the unfashionable losers, who haven’t figured out that “No one can be bothered to notice me, so I’ll leave now” is the new “Woo!  Look at me!”  The desperate plea for online attention is tired, and old, and most importantly, boring.

And, of course, while I was writing all that, the fat guy won.  Disappointing.  And, I don’t think most of the people in this UFC chat room even noticed.

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