Barzon: At all costs, avoid online pit of terror

Carlton Barzon

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I have seen the Internet’s true face. The forum boards are decrepit septic tanks ready to burst open like the bloated belly of a swollen corpse, releasing a deluge of verbal diarrhea and the abandoned social waste of a damned culture. The accumulated filth of all their tired memes and LOLcats will foam up around their waists, and all the trolls and /b/tards will look up and shout “Save us!”… and I’ll whisper, “No.”

This wretched face has a name, a seemingly innocuous image board known as 4chan. When I think back on everything I’ve seen, heard, read and watched in my years of surfing the Net, I feel as weary and jaded as Han Solo when he tells Luke Skywalker he’s been from one end of galaxy to the other. Along the way, I learned of places on the Web that are best avoided like a plague ward.

For the uninitiated to grasp just how deep this cesspool of cerebral rot runs, 4chan makes the now-defunct JuicyCampus look like a shining gem of civility. 4chan is a place where compassion and reason go to die. Opinion is fact, everyone is waiting in line to jump at the opportunity to tell you everything you like sucks, and 99 percent of the user base is competing for the title of “most insecure basement dweller on the planet.” Censorship is nonexistent on 4chan and the few moderators who patrol the safe-for-work boards are about as effectual as U.S. gun law. There are things posted on 4chan one cannot un-see, but you’ll avoid the worst of it as long as you steer clear of the Web site’s most popular board, /b/.

/b/ is 4chan’s “random” board, the birthplace of nearly every Internet meme ever. LOLcats, de-motivational posters, Rickrolling and just about every Internet fad ever devised began here. Spending time on /b/ does to your IQ what chugging Everclear does to your liver. Thankfully, /b/ is not the only image board on 4chan.

The official purpose of the site is to function as a nexus for different hobbyists to talk and share links. While a few boards like /b/ have degenerated into madness thus forever condemning the site to infamy, the vast majority are (comparatively speaking) somewhat civil and shockingly helpful. The board that lured me to this wild corner of the Web, /mu/, is steadily replacing Pitchfork as my primary source of discovering new music.

There is a method to 4chan’s madness. Above the clamoring din of racial slurs, thinly veiled homophobic taunts and cries of “MOAR!” there are fantastic discoveries to be had. Within 4chan lays the raw, untempered beauty of the Internet. For every rage post or link you stumble upon, sending you to an unspeakable horror, there are 10 that will reveal something marvelous. People who keep coming back to the site for more realize sometimes staring into the abyss and battling a few monsters can be a worth it for “the lulz.”

Medill junior Carlton Barzon can be reached at carltonbarzon2007@u.northwestern.edu.

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