Approaching the Internet is like approaching a recently-domesticated tiger. Is it ever really tame? You had a good experience last time—but this doesn’t mean you won’t get mauled on your next visit. I remember the Internet from when I was a tourist; a far cry from the convert, the citizen, the card-carrier I am now. I was ten or eleven. My brother and I were old enough to type “sex” into the search engine (AskJeeves or something similarly phased-out) but young enough to still giggle at the contorted orgiastic renderings we came across. The pages were shittily built: shady message boards populated with excitedly prowling pedophiles—“a/s/l? oh you’re so mature for your age, come visit me in New York ;)”—and exuberant racists, stoked at the idea of real anonymity; the kind of anonymity even a white hood doesn’t provide.
Every now and then I still get glimpses of that version of the Internet. The comment threads on Fox News articles; YouTube trolls; posts on politicians’ Facebook pages. Donald Trump’s Twitter feed—not anonymous, but alike in its enthusiasm for all things vile and vapid. I wonder what everyone wonders: what did these people do with their bile before the Internet came along and gave them the microphone their cringing malice required?
As my first post on my (new) blog, I will begin with this: this is not a place for that side of the Internet. That side of the Internet can stay among its company of #racisthashtags and suicide encouragement on teenage girls’ Facebook walls. Stay over there. This may not always be a place for unicorns and Cresty smiles…but it will never be a place for ugliness.