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Internet Thug

Internet Thugs

by Phumlani Pikoli, Illustration by Rico / 31.01.2011

Beauty is: the internet’s offer of complete freedom and anonymity it. The revelation that the porn game does in fact get two fists deep. The opportunity to make up an entire persona; the chance to name yourself say things one would never dream to say in real life, for fear of getting beaten up, fired or sued. The opportunity to be proudly racist, misogynistic, vulgar or anti-establishment depending what flavour best suits you. We drool to read the explicit content that continues to push boundaries saying things in the name of being provocative. It’s not worth reading or writing unless it contains the words fuck and cunt in the first three words of the sentence.

The splendor of the net is the comment thread. Mahala itself has a pretty rough neighbourhood running below the kif or kak signs. Depending on the article one can find either stimulating intellectual debate, straight up hating and more often than not; some or other socially inept sourpuss writing for the sake of writing and putting in as many cuss words as possible. It’s a way of saying “Screw you!” to the folks. Some of these internet thugs cast themselves as either Super Heroes and Villains. In essence our super heroes and villains are a blend of cool nerds looking to intellectually validate themselves as cerebral champions of argument with an entire world of information at their finger tips. To put it more simply it’s like having an open athletic sporting contest where anyone and everyone is given the steroid of their choice in the competition.

A generation of meanies without guidance or decorum for what is decent. People looking to be constantly edgier than the next. No morality when it comes to insults. Brainy children with their vocabularies and intellectual capabilities as their weapons. Who cares what you say and to whom you say it, it’s over the internet, the person can’t see your face and you can’t see theirs, so tell them that suicide would be a good career move. It can’t be taken personally. I think Ben Stiller’s character in Greenberg best captures the essence of what I’m trying to say, though I find myself a part of the generation he’s talking to in the film.
“You’re mean. The thing about you kids is that you’re all kind of insensitive. I’m glad I grew up when I did, cause your parents were too perfect at parenting. All that um… baby Mozart and Dan Zane songs. You’re so sincere and interested in things. There’s a confidence in you guys that’s horrifying! You’re all ADD and Carpel tunnel, you wouldn’t know agoraphobia if it bit you in the ass and that makes you mean. You say things to me someone who’s older and smarter with this light air. I’m freaked out by you kids.”

Comment boards are some of the most entertaining areas on the net. People just have a knack to go for them with a relentless need to make a point no matter how moot it is. A cyber fight club where no one needs to be physically bruised. “Can’t we all just get a long?” the words of Rodney King after taking the beating that sparked the 92 LA Riots. Check out the comments on these video’s. Powered by Youtube! Again you gotta love the internet it’s where the anonymity of bigotry thrives.

It’s pointless to have a sound argument only to kill your point by allowing your emotional baggage to filter into it. Personal spats behind pseudonyms (no matter how cool they are) are completely juvenile. It’s a nice laugh to read retaliations to how big aka1’s mother is, but at the end of the day it lacks substance. Personally, should you want to express an opinion, you should also be willing to put your name on it. Not so people can come after you in the streets because you dissed an article, a band or just cause you’re an idiot. But because what good is a position, if you don’t have to occupy it? Tony Montana says it best in the bad guy monologue in Scar Face. “So say goodnight night to the bad guy!” Cause you’ve never heard of a bad guy with a pseudonym this good!

*Illustration © Rico.

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RESPONSES (15)
  1. Rare. Golden. Collectables says:

    I see you still hurting over the comments on your last article..

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  2. Anonymous says:

    lol this = shit.
    now what are you going to write?

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  3. Andy says:

    ha ha… I think phumlani wrote this before that Guten Tag review…

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  4. Anonymous says:

    fuck and cunt, what a boring article.

    I like the bit where you said that arguing on the internet is cheating cause it’s on the internet, and that means you can google stuff.
    I never knew. Having information on the internet renders peoples arguments irrelevant. What about libraries, did those count? Like, back in the day, if someone tried to argue with you in a library would you tell them their argument is pointless?
    I also liked the bit where it says ‘take a look at these youtube videos’ followed by no link, at all.
    That means even your editor is bored of your shit and didn’t manage to get through the whole ‘woe is me’ article.
    Can you say butthurt? Yes, you can, in 800 words or less.

    Your argument at the end is basically: you cant give an opinion worth a shit if you dont own up to it by attaching your identity – is just bullshit. It’s shallow. It means you’re hoping people will rely on social decorum to not give a blunt and honest review.
    And whats with the completely random and irrelevant tony montana quote?
    say goodnight to the bad guy?
    How does that tie in to anything youv’e written except that you’ve decided internemet ‘meanies’ are bad guys cause they said mean things about your boring articles?

    Hmmm.

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  5. fobias tunke says:

    I thought I could be vicious, but this Anonymous guy upstairs could put me out of a job in five seconds.

    He’s totally right, though. Everything he’s said is en pointe. This piece trots out, by now, a very familiar and traditionalist argument about modern technology. It doesn’t wish to evolve, it doesn’t wish to acknowledge that internet fora have opened up an otherwise impossible space in which commentary of this kind can exist (Mahala would have 90% less posters if its comment thread wasn’t anonymous). The worst part is how it attempts to invalidate the logic of what constructive criticism actually arises in the course of these comment threads by essentially saying, “People are mean. They can look up anything they want now, so it’s not like party conversations where my trivia and GK wins out. They don’t give us their name so I can’t put a face to the criticism and engage some ad hominem etc.”

    The most ridiculous part of this article is – “Who cares what you say and to whom you say it, it’s over the internet, the person can’t see your face and you can’t see theirs”. Do I need to point out how utterly absurd and backward this idea is. I can’t see your face either, Phumlani. So by the inexorable logic of your article, no cares what you have to say.

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  6. a n other says:

    Your argument has some merits and is well-spirited, but there are certain realities about comment spaces and how they are perceived and reacted upon, especially on this site.

    It has gotten to the point that I don’t even comment with a regular pseudonym on mahala anymore, let alone using my real name. Why? Well, within a month or two I found that people were reacting in a knee-jerk way to any comment I made, based entirely on the history of what I had posted before and on an opinion that they had formed about me over time. They had in reality stopped considering the substance of what I had to say in that one comment (especially if it openly proposed a view that they did not imemdiately identify with) and digested it with a filter of “oh well, it’s THAT person who I don’t like so anything they say must be tainted.”

    Reactions such as this are counterproductive and contrary to fostering a diversity and balance of thought and opinion. If they don’t know who you are or your history, then the comment gets consumed for what it is in itself – and that from a point of merit alone is the best solution.

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  7. Jason says:

    It seems the majority of real name posters hardly have the courage of their convictions. It’s easier to be opinionated/offensive/abrasive if you’re a nobody. But then your valid opinions are tainted too, of course.

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  8. Jason says:

    …but then again, with all the technology out there, you’re never really truly anonymous, are you?
    Unless you give a shit enough to actually head out to a cyber café to get your rocks off.

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  9. Daniel Sher says:

    A simple, two-word counter-argument to this entire article: ad hominem

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  10. fobias tunke says:

    Seriously, though. Does Phumlani want to explain what that Scarface quote at the end is about? Non-sequitur alert.

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  11. Phumlani says:

    Okay.

    so the article should have been less than 800 words i had cut it down to 600 but had the wrong version was uploaded without any links, thus proving your point anonymous that my editors do indeed find my articles boring. this was not the version that was meant to go up and there are far too many mistakes in it, things that i can barely rectify now but i will make an attempt.

    What i was essentially trying to illustrate is the futility of vulgar commentary without a basis, as well as to highlight how much people love to take advantage of typing on the net because they are faceless. the bad guy quote was to illustrate the fact that i was and am willing to put my name on what i say.

    @ Fobias Tunke The most ridiculous part of this article is – “Who cares what you say and to whom you say it, it’s over the internet, the person can’t see your face and you can’t see theirs” i do believe i go on to say that so telling someone that committing suicide would be a good career move can’t be taken personally. all i’m trying to say is that i think that people take it too far over the net because of the veil of anonymity. yeah sure it may be a bit backward and childish, but the complete loss of respect and disregard of peoples dignity is something that i can’t approve of. i just wasn’t raised that way.

    but i guess “If we don’t believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don’t believe in it at all.” Noam Chomsky

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  12. damndemons says:

    aw, phumz got owned on this one

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  13. Anonymous says:

    I am a fucking cunt full of boring bullshit. I’m to fucking cowardly to have an own opinion and stand up to it. I hide behind mommy’s skirts and jerk off everytime I annoy people. I know I am just full of hate and bile and can’t stand looking at myself in the mirror. Because I hate myself I cannot bring myself to see anything but the same in everything around me. But deep down I need people and attention, which is why I can’ t stop this infantile stream of verbal diarroeha. And anyway, who is this anonymous arsehole using my pseudonym?

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  14. Anonymous says:

    excuse me, good sir, but when I look in the mirror all I see is sex.

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  15. Zuki says:

    Yho hayi no maan abantu balapha ba deep- abangangam tu!!

    Otherwise 2 thumbs up Big guy 😉

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