Friday, December 19, 2008

Who We Are Online

We had one of our typical dinner conversations the other night.
This one in particular was about the Romanov family and their massacre and the extraordinary techniques employed to kill Rasputin.
Of course, discussions of this nature invariably lead to Wikipedia, which also leads to confirmation Google searches, since Wikipedia is obviously lying about so many other things.
Elvis is dead? That's preposterous.
A standard Google search turned up a link to a message board, which Shana followed.
She was horrified to discover that the message board was the one for Stormfront (no link provided on purpose).
"What the hell is Stormfront?" she asked, horrified by the text and images surrounding her crazified reference to the former royal family of Russia.
"Stormfront is the white supremacist message board!" I was a little in shock at this point,"There are others, but Stormfront is inarguably the biggest."
"How was I supposed to know that? How do you know that?"
My response, nay, confession, was immediate. "Because I've been going there to create a fake message board account, stir up trouble, and get banned an average of three times a month since 2002."
At that point I realized, given her response which consisted primarily of blinking at me really fast, that this is not a regular use of the interwebz within the realm of "normal".
Antagonizing racists is not the equivalent of logging into Facebook to tag a friend's wall or browsing Ebay for a good deal on a cardigan with patches on the elbows.
Much later, she asked about the exact nature of the trouble I had created.
It is difficult, given the literally hundreds of times I've done it, to pull out a valid example of the "normal" harrassment.
Sometimes I confront a racist with facts and data until they resort to rhetoric and personal attacks, then I respond in kind - but better.
If I have more time, I get to have more fun.
For example, some weeks I'm able to create a whole profile, including a realistic fake personality and avatar, as well as a signature line graphic linked from my Photobucket account.
Popular signature graphics generally include an angry viking like you'd find on the side of an awesome van with some weird gothic type text on it. It never matters what it says, either.
Every freaking time . . . Seriously . . . Someone will "steal" my signature graphic.
They never do this by downloading it and sticking it in their own photo-hosting location. Always, they hotlink to my Photobucket account.
At this point, I own them. By uploading a new image file with the same file name, I've instantly caused all of their posts to be followed by not an awesome viking. Instead, sometimes it is a picture of a kitten. Sometimes it is a picture of Hitler with a clown nose. Sometimes I can Google image search myself to weird man-on-man viking porn. Or "normal" man-on-man viking porn. I'm even less certain what those standards are, to be honest.
That's not even the most fun thing to do with photo hosting.
Sometimes a poster on Stormfront, like an actual member, can put up a reasoned argument. They make a case in which they talk about not being racists at all, but only heritage enthusiasts and history buffs. And they would probably get away with it, too.
Unless you follow their signature image back to their Flickr photostream.
I've never followed one which didn't lead from awesome non-racist viking to horribly offensive hate-filled images.
The thing I do there is grab the links for those images and post them after every post I can find by the "reasonable" racist. And I identify where they came from and ask for another definition of racism from the original poster/owner.
I'll admit, it possibly isn't your average use of the interwebz.
And it is a lot like poking a bear with a stick through a hole in the plexiglass.
A stupid, angry, racist bear.
My point is this: We all have our online routines. Don't judge me.

1 comment:

Minerva said...