Anonymity as Culture: Case Studies

by David Auerbach

Homosexuality, suicide, hate, porn. Four episodes and a glossary.

“Anonymity as Culture” was produced by Triple Canopy as part of its Research Work project area, supported in part by the Brown Foundation, Inc. of Houston, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and the New York Council for the Humanities.

Table of Contents

A Short Glossary

An Hero
tits or gtfo
white knight

Case Studies

Homosexuality: A Chatroom Debate (IRC)
Suicide: An Hero Thread (4chan)
Hate: Hive Mind (Encyclopædia Dramatica)
Porn: SWAP.avi Endgame (Something Awful)

A Short Glossary

Part 1 of this essay, “Treatise,” considered A-culture from a high level. This section and the next attempt to demonstrate how its unique qualities play out within typical discourse in the culture. This glossary contains a small subset of the terms that have gained common usage in A-culture. Many refer back to pieces of A-culture lore that have now taken on a more generic meaning. Others are abbreviations and bits of self-reference and self-mythologization. I have selected terms that are both representative and used in the case studies following.

Spit-take: mfw reading Incontinent Student Bodies.


inb4 poster is a troll.

People use “inb4” (in before) to signal they’ve anticipated the response to a post, rendering any such comment redundant. This serves two purposes: First, the poster wards off expected criticism by saying he has already considered it. Second, the poster recognizes the criticism and acknowledges its potential validity. In turn, future posters reply as though such objections have already been made, either attacking the original poster for trolling while being aware of the weakness of his story, or taking the use of “inb4” as a sign of verisimilitude. Thus the meta-conversation advances before anyone has even responded.


“mfw” (my face when) is an example of identity slippage. The phrase is often used with an image of someone exhibiting a reaction, as a response to a prior comment; the expression depicted merges with that of the person who posts it. Most images are posted to imageboards as content unto themselves, but here they serve an emotive purpose: They temporarily efface the anonymity of the poster, usually by appropriating some bit of common cultural knowledge (e.g., images of characters from The Simpsons, anime, A-culture itself, etc.).

“mfw” may also be used without any image whatsoever, as in “mfw reading this post.” In this case readers are asked, and assumed to be able, to imagine the poster’s expression—usually some form of disgust, condescending amusement, or ridicule—without any visual reference. Such is the inferential nature of the A-culture hive mind.

An Hero

Tonight I'm going to An Hero. Ask me anything.

A derogatory term for suicide, originating from a MySpace tribute page devoted to a thirteen-year-old suicide, whom a classmate eulogized as “An Hero.” The term is a noun and a verb, and is used by people who post fake and real threats of suicide. The term deflates the act of suicide by replacing self-pity with sarcastic pride. It also deflates the they’ll-miss-me-when-I’m-gone sentiment associated with suicide by retaining the tribute’s grammatical inaccuracy. And there’s the secondary effect of poor taste achieved by ridiculing a teenage suicide.

The replacement of a culturally neutral term like “suicide” with a negative, judgmental, allusive term is part of the economy of offense, ensuring that no idea or act exists outside of irony; nothing is taken more seriously than anything else, nothing is transcendent. In fact, in A-culture suicide is generally ridiculed, mitigating against the exaggerated sense of self-importance of people like Mitchell Heisman, who killed himself after posting a 1,905-page tract on the website Suicide Note. “If my hypothesis is correct, this work will be repressed,” Heisman writes in the introduction. “It should not be surprising if justice is not done to the evidence presented here. It should not be unexpected that these arguments will not be given a fair hearing. It is not unreasonable to think that this work will not be judged on its merits.”

Such a statement would have been laughed off any A-culture forum, the participants being united by pride in their sense of inferiority and inconsequentiality (and ability to ironize accordingly).


ITT: People who hate government and taxes, but love: clean water, roads, not being conscripted into roving bands of pillaging rapists a la The Postman, and generally everything good that the taxation by a federal government provides.
—anonymous poster on 4chan thread
   about Ron Paul and libertarianism, 2011

“ITT” stands for “in this thread,” and is used by to comment, sportscaster-like, on the discussion within a thread, usually sardonically. It’s a distancing and ironizing mechanism, and a way of articulating the reactions of thread spectators. This criticism is harder to respond to than a bald attack, as it is voiced by a seemingly neutral outside party.


tl;dr: ITT sob story about my fucked-up life.

This phrase, short for “too long; didn’t read,” serves two related meanings. First, it is a response to a thread or a comment deemed too lengthy or boring to bother reading. Second, it is used before or after a long post to signal a short summary. This second sense is effectively “inb4 tl;dr.”


I wanted him to do me up the butt, but it turns out he was a straight fag.
—Urban Dictionary definition of “straight
   fag,” 2011

The suffix “-fag” can be added to any prefix in order to describe a poster (e.g., oldfag, newfag, tripfag, gayfag, straightfag). The use of -fag is usually restricted to members of the community, and thus acts to denote membership. “On 4chan, EVERYONE is a faggot (regardless of sexuality), and a need came up to differentiate between types of faggotry,” according to the Urban Dictionary. “A homosexual would be a gay fag, and a fan of Japanese cartoons would be an anime fag.”

Female community members are usually not referred to as fags of any kind, but rather “femanons.” This reflects the presumed, default male identity of any A-culture participant as well as the received notion that a woman, any woman, is more accepted by mainstream culture than outcast males. (Multiple anonymous 4chan posters are indicated here and throughout by alternating roman and italic type.)

i dont look at myself in the mirror because i believe that i am fat and ugly. Im not fat, nor very ugly, but I still wont look at myself.

femanon detected

close but no cigar. gayfag here

Contrast this with the act of “reclaiming” derogatory words, notably sex-advice columnist Dan Savage’s use of “fag” and “faggot.” In the early years of his column, Savage Love, the customary salutation was “Hey, Faggot”—an attempt to drain the word of its power as hate speech. While Savage sought to preserve the meaning of the word while removing the stigma, A-culture preserves the stigma, albeit ironically, while removing the meaning. The prefix denotes the particular reason for the stigma.


NORPs go to work, have a circle of friends in the real world, go to events outside their homes, have adequate conversational skills and have very little to no mental disabilities that would otherwise drive them to go on the internet. Despite appearing to have an otherwise mundane life not filled with memes and internet in-jokes, NORPs and normalfags are pros at getting laid, compared to the typical netizen. Indeed, most of these people lost their virginity sometime in their teens and occasionally have playful fun with casual sex partners in their free time.
—Encyclopædia Dramatica entry on
   “NORPs,” 2011

A NORP, or “normal ordinary responsible person” or “normalfag,” is someone who does not participate in A-culture; this is the exception to the rule of using “-fag” only to refer to community members. Participants define themselves by their opposition to a supposed mainstream existence, so NORPs are effectively excluded from A-culture. Anyone who seems too close to the NORP “other” is sure to be stigmatized; this is especially true of women, who are automatically perceived to be less alienated by virtue of their ability to attract men:

So can anyone tell me why I feel like shit even tho my lifes going great!
Not missing anything, Ive got plenty of friends. I fill my time everyday hanging out with friends/Work. But when it comes down to it I dont get how anyone can like me. I find myself very un-interesting and not really worth the time to hang out with.

Some dick is what you need in your life.

You're probably shallow and uninteresting

Because you're a 15yo angsty teenager faggot?

It's probably just because you have a vagina and that makes you feel entitled to tons of free shit in the world that you have to claim you do equally, but really men built and paid for.

Encyclopædia Dramatica refers to Stephen Colbert as “/b/ in NORPs' clothing,” praising his use of irony and offensive material. His character is described as a “PoMo television persona heavily steeped in irony. Colbert is such a great troll that he may actually be the incarnation of Trolldin on Earth.”

tits or gtfo

tits+timestamp is proof that you're a female. it's not cause we want to see some tits, there are a million pairs of tits on the internet, cumdumpsters need to get over themselves and stop thinking you're all little fucking princesses.
—anonymous poster, 4chan, 2011

“Tits or gtfo,” or some variation of that formulation, is a frequent early response on threadsand serves two purposes: First, it makes a demand on a femanon poster, often in the form of a “Heads I win, tails you lose” gambit. If the femanon doesn’t post a picture of breasts (either her own or someone else’s), other posters might ridicule her for not following the protocol of the boards. If the femanon does post breasts, other posters might ridicule her for taking such a clichéd demand seriously, rather than replying in kind with abuse.

This half-seriousness is the dominant tenor of A-culture. Since every poster’s past comments are just a scroll away, it’s impossible to disavow or distort part of a conversation. Instead, because of the paucity of intentional signifiers, posters have the option of revising the meaning of past comments, describing them as more or less ironic than they originally appeared to be. Posters are under no pressure to decide, on commenting, the degree to which they mean what they say.

Second, “tits or gtfo” serves as a verification mechanism. Whenever a poster’s veracity or identity is in doubt, there are instant, near-obsessive declarations that the poster is just trolling. Sometimes this suspicion can be assuaged through additional responses from the original poster, if the poster is using a tripcode (a password mechanism by which 4chan posters can maintain a verified anonymous identity across multiple posts within a thread). But a higher level of proof is a picture of the poster and a handwritten timestamp:

Hai /b/. 9/26/2010 8:57pm

The specific emphasis on “tits” also raises the suspicion that any supposedly female poster is in fact male, and distinguishes any real female as not fully belonging to the community. Though the presence of women in A-culture is tacitly accepted, revelation of gender is not the default, and so the gender of any poster is assumed to be male until proven otherwise. Hence the perpetuation of “tits or gtfo.” The specific demand for nudity serves as sexist/pornographic/humiliating frosting.


A trap can never be obvious, or else it isn't a trap.

Transgenderism is one of the recurrent obsessions of A-culture—specifically the idea of the trap, i.e., a male who presents himself as a woman and would be taken for a woman except for his genitals. The phrase—taken from Admiral Ackbar’s exclamation on being ambushed in Return of the Jedi: “It’s a trap!”—is a pejorative indicating that straight men have been tricked into being aroused by one of their own gender. However, it’s not unusual for posters to identify themselves as traps, or for posters to declare an interest in traps and even express confusion over their attraction to them. The trap embodies two conflicting impulses of A-culture: the love of deviancy and surprise, and the pervasiveness of suspicion, deception, and ridicule. This paradox is best exemplified by the posting of the technically self-contradictory statement “I’m a trap.”

What follows is an excerpt of a 2011 thread from /a/, 4chan’s anime and manga discussion board, on the significance of transgenderism and nonmainstream sexuality to anime and manga fandom. The question: “Why are traps so liked? Is it a bridge between straight and gay?”

Some explain that deviancy defines the norm in A-culture; deception is a bonus:

Nobody on /a/ is straight. Everyone is at least bisexual at this point. You stop caring about gender and just fuck anything that looks good. Plus traps tend to stand out more because there is less of them rather than generic girl #5000.

/a/ is comprised solely of faggots. Straight people are the minority on here. So, basically, if you're straight, you're the niggers of /a/. How does this make you feel?

One poster declares that 2-D (cartoon) traps are the ideal, out of reach to actual people:

I'm trying to become a trap myself, and 2D traps are the ultimate goal, and even though I’ll never reach it, I’d rather die trying than never try.

The subsequent poster goes further and declares that only 2-D traps are appealing at all:

"Traps" only exist in 2D. I hate when ugly-ass crossdressers think putting on a dress and calling themselves traps makes them actually look desirable.

Other posters are unable to define themselves and throw up their hands:

The only kind of male trap that really turns me on is the double reverse trap [i.e., a boy who looks like a girl dressed as a boy]. I don't know if that makes me straight, because I think it looks like a girl, or hard gay, because it’s essentially a boy dressed as a boy.

Its weird, I love traps but trannies are a huge turn off for me. it just doesn’t feel right, changing your gender surgically just seems inhuman.

I’m a girl and I would do anything to be a trap. Not only because I’d be able to wear dresses and look cute (I hope), but I’d also be able to wear suits and boy clothes and look nice and dapper as fuck. Let me switch with one of you anons. You can be a girl and I will be a boy. ;__;

Questioning one’s sexuality is nothing new. But doing so in the context of an anonymous forum with no presentational indicators of gender or sexuality (other than what one chooses to reveal) allows for a far more fluid and ambiguous discussion, with references to common cultural knowledge taking the place of personal information. The idealization of a type—which many deny even exists in real life—is an excellent example of the economy of unreality.

white knight

this is why you all fail so hard with women, you are so quick to white knight for a girls you dont even know, and furthermore devalue the time honored tradition of tits or gtfo.
—anonymous poster, 4chan, 2011

“White knight” is a pejorative term used to ridicule a do-gooder. If one poster is being scorned and another poster defends him and attacks other respondents for bullying, that self-appointed guardian will be derided as a white knight. The phrase is especially common when a poster who is (or claims to be) a woman is being taunted by respondents who are assumed to be men. Accusing someone of being a white knight effectively expels him from the community of deviancy, while questioning his motives, implying that he is interested in defending the woman only due to base sexual interest, not genuine compassion.

It is not uncommon for people to sheepishly declare themselves white knights or to make excuses for being one. Nor is it uncommon for a poster to pretend to be a “damsel in distress” to attract ridicule and thus white knights, only to reveal himself to be lying and mock the white knights for falling for a troll out of desperation or sanctimoniousness.


Who can hate the giving tree?

When I read it, I just think of the inevitability of old age, and death, and that we should do our best in life and make connections with others.
—anonymous poster, 4chan, 2011

“Bawww” is a seemingly banal trope, an expression of mawkish sadness in response to something pathetically sorrowful, like puppies dying—the sort of thing that would normally invite ridicule. Just as there are “You fall in love, you lose” threads containing pornographic and nonpornographic images of especially sweet-looking women and men, there are “You bawww, you lose” threads in which people compete to outdo one another in posting pitiable, tear-jerking content.

One 4chan thread filled with despairing robots, flightless birds, and references to Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree ended with this abject profession of admiration:

you don't know the half of it. i didn't understand the power of this thread.

fucking made my girlfriend cry when she saw it. real. fucking. tears.

Other male posters admitted to crying “manly tears,” which is to say sobbing like girls. Such vulnerability is displayed with a fair amount of self-mocking irony. But there is a second, more complex, layer of irony at work. “Bawww” is not just clichéd onomatopoeia, but a specific meme that originated in the comic Incontinent Student Bodies, which is about two of the most ridiculed fetishes on 4chan: infantilism (adult babies) and furries (sexual interest in anthropomorphized animals and donning animal costumes). In this context, the confession is also an embrace of two of the most ridiculed and loathed fetishes in the culture. The contemptuous rejection of, and simultaneous identification with, pariah objects is at the center of A-culture.

Case Studies

What follows are four condensed extracts of A-culture discourse from different forums. For clarity’s sake I have chosen examples dealing with social, personal, and political issues, not pop culture or hobbies.

Homosexuality: A Chatroom
Debate (IRC)

This is a chatroom thread about homosexuality. The participants have consistent identities throughout the session, and as a result an actual conversation takes place, rather than the hit-and-run exchanges that tend to dominate wholly anonymous forums. The debate about homosexuality emerges out of random banter. DreamPolice, who will later identify himself as gay, begins by objecting to the use of the word “homo” in the chat, but at this point he is just ignored:

LargoJoeChip: You guys should know by know I exagerrate about my penis. Well not really.
woofertweeter: bowser, i'm not going to try to stop you.
LargoJoeChip: It's what internet people do to try and show off.
woofertweeter: yes largo
woofertweeter: we know
LargoJoeChip: Get the humor, idiot.
LargoJoeChip: xD
woofertweeter: >implying that humor is universal and not subjective
LargoJoeChip: ^ Closet homo
bowser: repeating urself woofer?
LargoJoeChip: ^ Closet homo
woofertweeter: largo's getting desparate again
LargoJoeChip: xD
bowser: u said that loads of times before
LargoJoeChip: That was for me, but okay.
LargoJoeChip: *Slaps Ruben.*
DreamPolice: Well, can we use the word 'homo' FAR less.
LargoJoeChip: This is your fault.
DreamPolice: It's kinda... annoying now.
woofertweeter: it's impossible to make out with yourself
LargoJoeChip: Yes.
woofertweeter: so it is the other ruben
LargoJoeChip: Chop off your lips and makes out with yourself.

woofertweeter makes a statement that focuses the discourse:

woofertweeter: yeah i don't think gay people deserve to live either
woofertweeter: how was your weekend
DukePhillips: XD
Mastermind: lol...

woofertweeter is accused of being a stereotype. DreamPolice, who now explicitly outs himself, appeals to heterosexual self-interest rather than any ethical argument. DannoWilliams supports DreamPolice to a point, but derogates him as “the homosexual”:

Mastermind: stereo typical christian
woofertweeter: nah, don't believe in god. not very stereotypical
DreamPolice: Wonderful, hate on the happy people.
Mastermind: lol so much for me burning in hell
DreamPolice: I admit, they are a bit nerve-wreaking... but c'mon!
Mastermind: to bad i dont believe in that shit
woofertweeter: dream stop being a smartass, i meant gay people as in people who stick dildos in their anus
DreamPolice: Some. I've yet to shove a phallus-shaped object in my anus.
DreamPolice: And what do you have against gays? You should be happy WE exist.
Mastermind: how is it gay for a girl to put a dildo into her anus
woofertweeter: that wasn't an invitation to talk about your sexual activity
DreamPolice: If I were straight, i'd see it this way.
woofertweeter: you're not, bro
Mastermind: homophobic person....
DreamPolice: If MEN... date OTHER MEN... that means... LESS MEN, are fighting for WOMEN.
woofertweeter: Yeah. That's bad.
woofertweeter: Competition is necessary.
Mastermind: lol
DannoWilliams: the homosexual is right
DreamPolice: I still don't understand why people have problems with gays.

Chances of being called Gay.

Mastermind stakes out a middle ground:

Mastermind: lol i never claimed to support gay's i just got nothing agaisnt them aslong as they stay the f*ck away from me
DreamPolice: I'm glad a lot of my generation are open minded.
woofertweeter: yeah, from your standpoint, sure, there's nothing wrong with letting them be.
ultramint: ...wtfbbq?
woofertweeter: and blah blah, prince, freddie mercury, etc.
woofertweeter: but i'm imagining a world with no gay people here.
DannoWilliams: prince?
Mastermind: lol day dream much?
woofertweeter: the musician
ultramint: so... why are you here woofer?
DreamPolice: Why can't you stand gays? Explain that to me?
DannoWilliams: prince isn't gay
DreamPolice: Is it... immoral? Do you get freaked out by them?
DreamPolice: WHY are you so against gays?

woofertweeter avoids any position that would make him seem too earnest or moralistic, going for elitist eugenics instead. Mastermind has identified woofertweeter as a prime target and so sides more aggressively with DreamPolice:

woofertweeter: i don't get freaked out, i'm not an idiot
woofertweeter: and i could care less for morals
Mastermind: that person is homophobic
woofertweeter: but i'm more about the advancement of the human species
DreamPolice: And homosecuality isn't an advancement?
Mastermind: of course you are
DannoWilliams: you are aware the world is overpopulated woofer?
Mastermind: bet you wish the world wwas racist too
woofertweeter: yes, danno. aware.
DreamPolice: We're here, trying to do the things we want, while homophobic assholes like you are afraid of us.
Mastermind: and i bet your sexist as well
DreamPolice: homosexuality* >.>
woofertweeter: i'm not homophobic.
woofertweeter: I'm not afraid of them.
Mastermind: sure you arnt
DreamPolice: So, why do you act like it?
woofertweeter: I'm afraid of what they'll lead to.
Mastermind: stop whinning like a little bish
woofertweeter: I'm not whining, just continuing the conversation.
Mastermind: no one wants you ranting about how scared you are of gays
DreamPolice: Isn't that fear in itself?

DannoWilliams and Mastermind pile on woofertweeter while DreamPolice attempts to have a reasoned debate:

DannoWilliams: what are you saying homosexuality will lead to?
woofertweeter: Technically, sure. Doesn't change anything.
Mastermind: haha
Mastermind: i bet hes scared hes gonna be converted to gay
woofertweeter: That it will support the downfall of mankind.
DreamPolice: So what is this 'outcome' you fear?
Mastermind: lol your a retarded person
woofertweeter: I'm not scared i'm going to be 'converted to gay'. And it's not a damn religion anyway.
DannoWilliams: how?
DreamPolice: A person can not be converted to homosexuality.
Mastermind: global warming and war have way better chances of bringing the world to an end
woofertweeter: War will help us all, in the end.
Mastermind: you shuting up would to
Mastermind: would save me a min
woofertweeter: As long as it's not like on a global scale, as in almost everyone dies
DannoWilliams: how would homosexuality support the downfall of mankind?
woofertweeter:Master, if you want to 'save a min', just don't look at chat.
Mastermind: lol i think it would save the chatroom if you stopped continuing this conversation of you hating on gays
woofertweeter: well, i can't really explain it too well, but it's a trait that's not supposed to exist.
DreamPolice: And also, isn't the fertility rate in women overall high in itself? Why are you 'afraid' of the downfall, when we can barely put people under roofs and shit?
Mastermind: im so worried about the world being over taken by gays
nathan_69: HAIL HITLER

DukePhillips enters and begins trolling, drowning out woofertweeter. People ignore him at first. It is not obvious that he is trolling:

DukePhillips: Homosexuality is caused by a small Y chrosomosome.
Mastermind: ya such a downfall eh?
DukePhillips: The more generations of humans, the smaller the Y chromosome gets.
Mastermind: it sure is eh duke?
DannoWilliams: woofer you seem to think that being gay is new
DukePhillips: A species of lizards died out because they all became gay.
woofertweeter: duke, you high?
nathan_69: pooooooooooooop

DreamPolice checks out:

DreamPolice: Back to uploading things into my iPod.
Mastermind: your not worth shit
woofertweeter: Cool.
Mastermind: i dont even think you should be worrying about gays
DannoWilliams: there has been gay people for a long time
Mastermind: when you cant even get anyone for yourself
DannoWilliams: mankind has survived this long
woofertweeter: Yeah, I'm not saying that it can be eliminated, just that I'm against it.
admitamit: hey ultra

woofertweeter confesses insincerity as a way of backing down from his position’s supposed seriousness. The other participants won’t let him:

DannoWilliams: why would there be a downfall of man now?
woofertweeter: Oh, I pulled that out of my ass XP
woofertweeter: So, no.
Mastermind: hes avoiding the question cause it would review his homophobic traits
woofertweeter: Believe whatever you want to, master.
Mastermind: you havent answered Danno's question
woofertweeter: So? You gonna cry about it?
Mastermind: lol out of words?
Mastermind: subject changer?
Mastermind: go troll on another chatroom
woofertweeter: Nah, I could do this for days.
Mastermind: ya thats why your a hater
Mastermind: now go along
woofertweeter: I know I'm a hater.
Mastermind: thats nice to know

DukePhillips ups his trolling as woofertweeter says less and less:

DreamPolice: Oh man... laughing at Seinfeld.
DukePhillips: The Y chromosome makes you attracted to the other sex.
woofertweeter: That's not why I'm against homosexuality.
DreamPolice: Even though he sucks.
DukePhillips: The smaller it gets, the gayer you are.
DannoWilliams: people have been gay for thousands of years
DukePhillips: The number is increasing,.
woofertweeter: But seriously, it's recessive. There will always be more straights, fool.
DukePhillips: IT is now.
Mastermind: no shit sherlock
DreamPolice: So... anyone know of anything good on Netflix?
woofertweeter: Your point is that everyone is going to be gay one day?
DannoWilliams: duke you are a moron.
DreamPolice: I don't wanna kill the battery on my XBOX controller.
DannoWilliams: if you think that everyone will be gay one day then you are saying mankind is naturally gay
DukePhillips: No.
DukePhillips: Not now.
woofertweeter: he's saying that it happens over time XD
woofertweeter: that our gayness is increasing
DukePhillips: A decrease in the Y chromsome makes you naturally gay.
woofertweeter: But there are a lot of other factors.

DukePhillips goes even further to make it clear that he’s just trolling. It’s not certain that anyone has figured it out:

DukePhillips: Just wait.
DukePhillips: Everyone will be gay when you're 80.
DukePhillips: Everyone...
Mastermind: lol
woofertweeter: Dream, I'm not denying that homosexuality, I'm saying that I'm against it, fool.
DannoWilliams: even me and you?
Mastermind: your obviously a retar
DukePhillips: Your grandson will try to suck your dick.
woofertweeter: Mastermind, spam already so I can mute you.
DannoWilliams: why would i be gay at 80?
DukePhillips: And your granddaughter will be eating your wife's pussy.
DukePhillips: You wont.
DannoWilliams: haha
DukePhillips: The younger generations will.
Mastermind: haha mute me i dont give much?
DukePhillips: And with that, you know I'm right.
Mastermind: i think thats happening at your school eh?
DreamPolice: Wait wait! Duke, just because you're gay, it doesn't mean that you'll jump into incest.
DreamPolice: Idiot.
DukePhillips: Just wait.
Mastermind: your no sexy beast duke your not getting any straight guys
DukePhillips: You'll be to old to resist a blowjob from your grandson.
DukePhillips: *too old
Mastermind: thast just you
Mastermind: your a bad role model
DukePhillips: XD
DukePhillips: Brb.

DannoWilliams abruptly attacks Mastermind and calls him a “little fag,” possibly confusing him with DreamPolice. woofertweeter backs him anyway since he could use an ally:

DannoWilliams: i wish the little fаg Mastermind would shut up
DreamPolice: Hold on. I gotta restart my comp.
DreamPolice: Freaking iTunes.
DannoWilliams: leave the conversation to the unbiased
Mastermind: lol danno your a dum tart
woofertweeter: Master, you truly live up to your name.
woofertweeter: That was the best burn I've seen in years.
Mastermind: lol
Mastermind: ty
Mastermind: servant
woofertweeter: Danno is probably reeling in pain from that right about now.
woofertweeter: But enough sarcasm.
DannoWilliams: *reeling*

DannoWilliams expresses discomfort with gays. woofertweeter responds with condescension, effectively swapping positions with him:

DannoWilliams: its hard to have a serious conversation about homosexuality with a gay around
woofertweeter: How so?
woofertweeter: You afraid you'll hurt his feelings?
DannoWilliams: nah
DannoWilliams: they always turn it on you
DannoWilliams: and suspect that you are gay yourself
Mastermind: a homophobic talking to a gay guy
DannoWilliams: and are too defensive
woofertweeter: Well of course, you're demeaning their way of life.
DannoWilliams: the point i'm making is that they don't have a proper defense about it
woofertweeter: Fine.

The debate ends there, with little resolved. The conflict dissolves quickly after one participant realizes he is on the losing side. And then another conflict emerges, with some of the same protagonists choosing different positions. Trolls like DukePhillips serve to increase the volume and the fluidity of the conflicts.

Suicide: An Hero Thread (4chan)

This thread highlights the economy of suspicion. A femanon on 4chan’s /b/ board announces that she intends to commit suicide. She is met with a mixture of sympathy, suspicion, and derision, all of which she seems to have anticipated. As usual on 4chan, nearly all comments are anonymous, and so identity cannot be correlated—not even across multiple posts in this single thread. Comments are presented chronologically, though because of the speed of the discussion, posters most likely have not seen the responses immediately preceding their own comments. I have italicized comments that are taken to be from the original poster (no tripcode was used) and cut some redundant and irrelevant material.

Two themes to note: first, the consistent treatment of the femanon as other by virtue of her gender, and second, the pervasive notion that everything happening in the thread has already happened before in another thread, and is playing out just as before.

The original poster (OP) begins with a simple declaration, followed by “inb4” to forestall “tits or gtfo” requests and objections that an OP cannot use “inb4”:

Ask a femanon who is about to go an hero anything.
inb4 titsorgtfo
inb4 opcantinb4

Immediate short responses are posted quickly, ignoring and parodying her directives:

inb4 op cant inb4 inb4

tits or gtfo

tell us why

are you in love with somebody?

tits post death

fuck you, tits or gtfo

OP has ugly tits.
OP wants to an hero

OP responds with her reasons, ignoring the ridicule:

Love is for the weak.
Well, my "family" doesnt want anything to do with me. Where I live now, I'm over 700 miles from my "family." I got into an argument with the people I live with tonight and almost got kicked out. I'm just your average /b/tard who is a high school drop out, never had a license, and have no money. I have extreme self-image issues and I'm not going anywhere in life. I'm not very smart and I my vocabulary sucks. All my friends ditched me to have babies and I don't have anywhere to go.

More ridicule ensues, dismissing her seriousness, making jokes in bad taste, and undermining the significance, even meaning, of suicide:

Will you be mad if I told you that's the stupidest shit I've ever heard?

i hope ur not serious, ur prolly an attention whore post pics with u whatever ur gonna kill urself with and a timestamp and maybe ill believe

Don't forget to tell me, where you'll leave your body first. My dudes pay me for corpse fucking. U don't mind, don't u?

tits b4 dead
maybe there's one part of you that won't go to waste

I'm sure you want your 'an hero' moment to be something significant. A giant middle finger to whomever is the aggressor in your life.
It won't be. Congratulations on becoming another statistic.

Don't need to, you aren't interesting at all, hence the reason you are an hero. Get on with it already.

There are also more serious responses offering sympathy and advice. Some commenters want to meet and live with her:

You're a female, correct? There are plenty of shelters who only let women in. Go there. They help you get your life back on track.

Come live with me OP, I'm not exactly ugly but I am all these other things, atleast we could be these things together. We'll get worthless jobs at some fast food place and barely make ends meet, but we'll have a good fucking time doing it.

This. Suicidal people should just hook up with eachother and work jobs that everyone else is too proud to take.
Someone has to be our Deltas and Epsilons.

1.go get GED
2.get a job with friends who have transportation. (could even baby sit for them) at life being hard make others butthurt

OP, I've experienced 4 deaths this week, in and out of the family. i'd hate to see one more go. just hang on. someone out there needs you more than you think.

If you're about to take your own life, then you are weak. So if love is for the weak, then love is for you.
.. try it, little sister. It has a tendency to work.

One commenter doubts OP’s seriousness. Another commenter attacks in response, and is responded to in turn:

Why are you hesitating?
Actually, I'll answer my own question. You're hesitating and fucking around here on /b/ because you're not really ready to go through with it. If someone is serious about suicide then they kill themselves - end of story. People who fuck around in chats/forums/etc. talking about how they are RLY SRSLY GONNA DO IT 4SHORE just want attention. /b/ is a bad place to go for attention for someone like you. Why don't you just call a help line or something and do us all a favor.

hey remember those times when people posted shit about committing suicide or committing mass murder on 4chan AND THEN THEY ACTUALLY DID IT you fucking retard, you can't assume everything here is a joke, some people here really are seriously troubled.

I really want to watch. You can pop my "watch someone die live cherry"

One offers sympathy indirectly by asking a trivial, distracting question, then entreating OP to reconsider:

What's the formula for converting Celcius into Fahrenheit?
Also, please don't kill yourself. I don't know if you're interested in talking to me, but if you are, my AIM is DNAGrabber.

There is disbelief that a woman could ever have it as bad as a guy:

I am in the same boat as you, except I am a guy. So at least you have it easier cuz most guys with do shit for you they will never do for me. Stop complaining.

Are you ugly, fat or both?

OP (possibly) asks how to broadcast her suicide, and otherwise does not respond to the comments:

OP here. Do you guys want to watch me do it?
What site can I broadcast it on?

Don't do it. You'll get a dozen reasons why you shouldnt, many of them posted already. I bet they all seem hollow and stupid. But thats not because they are, its because you can't see it. not from where you're standing. We've all got shit to deal with, quitting's not gonna make it better.
If you have nothing to lose, you have everything to gain.

its technically illegal to not contact law enforcement if someone threatens to commit suicide

No tits or GTFO for you.
Spread Vag, or GTFO.

OP gives more details of her life and dismisses one commenter who asks why she’s on 4chan: “I’m a camwhore, DUUUH.” That answer provokes suspicion: Camwhores are attention seekers. OP may have been joking about this, however:

I don't live in a basement which is why I left my family in another state, to become better than those pathetic, low-life, living off the government pieces of shit. I wanted to become something greater but when I'm surrounded by negative people, it's hard to stay positive.
Not the area I live in. I live in bumfuck Egypt.
I live near a port so I was thinking about drowning or simply hanging myself, or I could just simply OD'd.
I wish. That's all I ever wanted was to be happy making ends meet. Money is everything with the people I live with. None of them have jobs, they are all living off of stocks and the father's retirement.
I am a virginfag, also, I'm nineteen.
That's what I was trying to do but tonight, it all fell down on me. I was going to classes for my GED test. This all started because someone did get butthurt because I didn't want to date his morbidly obese, ignorant, illiterate ass.
That's the thing, nobody does want me.
Love doesn't want to find me nor does anyone want to love me. Who wants to love a pathetic piece of crap.
I'm hesitating because I'm scared and don't want to do but I'm on the verge. I almost succeed several times around 16-19 but my brother always found me and took me to the hospital. Now my brother doesn't give a fuck.


I'm a camwhore, DUUUH. Why else do femanon's explore 4chan!?

Commenters get angry and call OP an attention whore and a troll:

first of all your not going to an hero you would have done it already not post here
second of all TITS OR GTFO
nobody likes attention whores!

Do you really think anyone cares? Don't just say you will, do it.

This shits stupid as fuck. No body died. Im disappointed. thanks for the waste of time.

Anyone who is NOT telling this cumdumpster (read: troll) to just fucking do it should consider doing it themselves.

Two posters manage to combine ridicule, sympathy, doubt, hope, and pro- and anti-suicide advice within their comments:

Hahaha, you're a woman. You're either not going to try or try pathetically and fail.
Anyway, life is great. Don't become an hero. There's so much goodness in the world. Imagine erasing just your favorite movie or album from the world. That would suck. You're about to erase all of them irreversibly. Same with sunsets, hugs, etc. One who commits suicide destroys the entire world as far as she's concerned.
But in case, you're really suicidal, here's the deal. Call one of your friends. The best suicide notes are workshopped. Ask him or her what would work best, what would just sound stupid, etc. It'll help you do this right.

hey op im in the same boat i tryed to an hero last night i just wasnt worth it the rope snaped once i jumped off the chair and i thank god it did
but if thats the way you feel go ahead and do it just post tits before you do it :)

There is dismissive, jaded commentary.

mfw this thread is just about an attention whore who wont do anything and will just continue with her bullshit life like the rest of us

dont die alone take some people with you. like set fire to your self and a burn ward. take down yourself and others make the world remember you

I would probably fall in love with a girl like you. Oh well.

hey guise I think she actually went through with it
the fat hog stopped replying

Someone claiming to be OP claims to be a troll and attacks white knights for having selfish motivations, suggesting they’re projecting a fantasy of femininity onto , which she is unlikely to fulfill. The supposed OP invokes the traditions and memes of /b/:

this is why you all fail so hard with women, you are so quick to white knight for a girls you dont even know, and furthermore devalue the time honored tradition of tits or gtfo.
How can anyone be inB4 that? ITS PART OF B!!
i could be 300 lb and covered with mosquito bites, how do you know? And if i was you wouldn't wanna help me. So next time a girl you dont know wants you to be her hero ask yourself. Does she deserve my attention and why.

Then the real OP returns. She responds positively to a profession of love from one white knight, reiterates her low self-esteem, admits she will not commit suicide. She calls herself an “attention whore.” She effectively confirms the suspicions of many doubters, ensuring that the next similar thread will perpetuate their arguments:

>>332787827 [I would probably fall in love with a girl like you.]
I'd love for a white knight like yourself.
Yeah, nobody is even interested in talking to me. I don't fit their "standards." I don't have a perfect body or a cute face and I stutter.
Yeah, I wish I still taught like that. I don't really have anyone I could trust and being put down my entire life, it's been drilled in my head that I'm worthless no matter how many people tell me I'm worth something.
I keep seeing replies saying do it already. I'm a big fat pussy, I'm not going to do it. Maybe I am a bit of an attention whore but at least I can admit that. I didn't come here to be one though, this is my first time actually posting on /b/ and I was very hesitate but I needed to vent and I'm a forever alone.

An argument against suicide, now obsolete, follows. The poster declares that the thread is now devoted to humor:

Also OP, I myself have tried to an hero twice, and even I found a reason to hang around, and I am glad I did. I hate seeing people walk down the road I walked myself. That road leads to nowhere. End of story. Suicide is a complete waste of time. FUCK THE ASSHOLES YOU LIVE WITH, as they are a complete waste of time as well... If you don't work for what you have, you don't deserve it. Also, nobody will really understand as much as I least very few will... Just remember someone, somewhere has it WAY worse than you do... Don't do it... if you are scared then it's not for you to do... there is a reason it scares you. Just find something that makes you happy and focus on it, something that makes you you...for me it was music... DON'T PUSSY OUT ON LIFE, as suicide is for pathetic fucking failures and based on what I have are not a pathetic fucking failure, just someone who doesn't want to deal with life like what...6 billion plus people have. DON'T BE A FUCKING PUSSY, later you will be glad you did...that is all...
P.S this thread is now a raff and ruse thread

There is sportscaster-style commentary ridiculing all involved. (Note the use of the contradictory term “dying troll”—if the OP committed suicide, she would not be a troll. The degrees of unreality are confusing even to the participants.)

ITT: the loneliest of neck beards try to get a dying troll to give them the night's fifth fap

Far too late, someone posts another dismissive comment followed by an offer to shelter the OP in exchange for sexual slavery. The tone suggests he’s not entirely joking:

I don't know you. I don't care about you. I won't shed a tear when you die. I won't even notice, really.
I certainly don't need YOU, of all people, in my life.
But I'm offering a chance to live just a little bit before you snuff out. Surely it's at least worth considering.
Live rent free for a month, food provided, far away from everyone that brings you down on a daily basis. All you have to do is submit to me completely. How hard would that be for someone that's already given up on life?

The thread ends here. None of the posts are likely to ever be tied to any future poster.

Hate: Hive Mind
(Encyclopædia Dramatica)

Encyclopædia Dramatica (ED), which was shut down in April 2011 but has since been revived on a different URL, is Ground Zero for the economy of offense. Unlike 4chan and IRC, ED forsakes prosaic discussions of anime, sports, television, and other pastimes and focuses exclusively on provocation. The ED entry on the Bible is exemplary, reducing the text to the level of A-culture by comparing it to fan fiction, Anonymous, and email forwards.

The bible is clearly Christ and Yahweh fan fiction chosen for mainstream distribution by none other than Emperor Constantine. The gospels themselves were written anonymously in third person, and attribution of the authors' names (Mark, Luke, Matthew, John) is pretty much the equivalent of getting those annoying email forwards written by some basement dwelling fuckbucket and then simply typing in "from Bill Cosby" before forwarding that crap yourself. Everyone after that will be like "ZOMG Bill Cosby wrote this email! Forward it to all of your friends!!!1111!!!"To view some of the less popular fan fiction that he didn't approve of, check out the Gnostic Gospels which clearly prove that Jesus beat the breaks off Mary Magdalene and HOLY SHIT possesses a bird!

The goal of ED is to present as much offensive material as possible in the form of a Bizarro World Wikipedia. There are copious amounts of racial epithets, sexual fetishism, and general hate, all recorded in a banal tone that acknowledges the offensiveness of the material without passing judgment. The site is a wiki, and so all the content is collectively authored; ED is the voice of A-culture’s hive mind.

Spoiler alert.

ED originated around a core group of members who have for the most part downplayed their identities. (One notable exception is Girlvinyl, the former owner of the site, about whom more later.) As with Wikipedia, these veterans serve as autocratic administrators while still allowing contributors a great degree of latitude, as long as they do not cause trouble—i.e., posting content the veterans don’t like, which they brand {{crap}} or {{unfunny}}.

From the “ED is Not” page:

Encyclopedia Dramatica does not believe in anarchy. We believe in documenting internet drama, which is itself chaotic. ED is also not a Democracy. It's actually a dramacracy, at any given time it's governed by a parliamentary system of community veterans, so long as they remain trusted, otherwise ED will change hands. The ancestor of ED would probably be The Bible.

ED strives for offensiveness and ridicule in equal measure toward all things. The material acts as a filter, testing the tolerance of readers—everyone is likely to find something revolting. This test of membership contributes to the strong sense of community and exclusion that is essential to A-culture. Offense is a ritual practice.

While material on ED is rarely intentionally misleading and false (trolling in this sense is not ED’s purpose), neither is there a particular regard for factual accuracy. The standard for inclusion is the material’s place in the larger mythos of A-culture. The teenager who was the original inspiration for the term “An Hero” may or may not have committed suicide over a stolen iPod, but the story remains because that version of events is more pathetic and worthy of ridicule (and thus more offensive), and because it is what participants believed at the time the myth originated.

None of this obscures the intentionally offensive nature of the material. But questions of whether the racist and sexist epithets used by ED contributors reflect their real convictions are incoherent. There is no established position of prejudice (as there would be for a hate group’s wiki), the self-referential irony is ubiquitous, and the collective voice renders individual bias inscrutable. But the dominant rhetorical tenor is much closer to that of schoolyard play than hate speech. There is no attempt to make legitimate arguments, and furthering an agenda would fall under the odious rubric of “unwarranted self-importance”:

A theory introduced to civilization in the form of Socrates, Unwarranted Self-Importance (USI) is a disease that gives you the feeling that you are actually worth something despite not having made any contributions to anything at all, and actually making the world a much shittier place, thus making yourself look like a complete douche.

This is common amongst Kanye West, BoA, LiveJournal and Kuro5hin users, chavs, pre-med or PhD students, Apple users, famous weathermen, Coalition soldiers who have actually been to Iraq and anyone who drives some sort of "green" hybrid car while simultaneously expecting your gratitude for saving the fucking earth. It occurs on ED all the time. Unwarranted self-importance is also often associated with flamers or n00bs, Americunts, and anyone who contributes to this page.

Some ED contributors are undoubtedly bigots and racists of one stripe or another who are expressing their real opinions behind the veil of irony. But the project revolves around a general awareness of the larger societal meaning of the rhetoric and the constant need to disavow the ultimate seriousness of anything, which, in tandem with the unattributed anonymity of A-culture, prevents the rhetoric from rising to the level of hate speech. Furthermore, the material mostly targets community members and is incomprehensible to outsiders, who are likely to be repulsed by the profusion of pictures of grotesquely flared anuses before reading too far. What malicious behavior there is rather takes the form of doxing, stalking, and bullying, similar to other A-culture sites.

In order to preserve that community of insiders, some other regulative norms do exist, as demonstrated by the difference between the “Conservative” and “Liberal” entries, which avoid extreme cognitive dissonance by maintaining a position in favor of free speech and sexual deviancy throughout. Consequently, cultural conservatism takes much heavier blows than liberalism:

Conservatism is the political ideology that states that everything your dad did was right, except that he should have beat you harder. The conservative right sees the world as the parking lot for church, where they go to thank God that he did not make them terrorists. Conservatives often terrorize the world with chain emails about their lord and savior Jesus, so this is ironic, but it is well known that conservatives don't understand irony. Conservatives are known for lower taxes, spending more, killing niggers, being staunch supporters of science, loving guns, and hating gays (despite being gay themselves). They also hate sex, love teh sweet buttsecks and are against killing the unborn but love killing the already born. They also love George W. Bush and Larry the Cable Guy. Many believe that Conservatism will save America. These people are usually rich, white, assholes who have no idea what (or even where) America is.

Liberals have always hated America, but when they learned that some dudes looking to cash in on a new find straight pwned and slaughtered some natives, they became even bigger cunts. This group typically believes that there is no natural law or such thing as morality (and manages to be incredibly self-righteous at the same time) and diversity is good (as long as you are not a conservative, fetus, or a white person). Likewise, they strongly oppose killing niggers and believe that you should be able to burn a flag whenever you want because of the "First Amendment". Ironically, they believe the Second Amendment is meaningless. To be a liberal you must first worship the liberal god, Al Gore. If you ever venture into a college campus, you will find that at least 100 percent of the people there claim to be liberals when in fact, they are just doing it because they think it makes them rebellious. Also, liberals can't get any shit done because they're too busy arguing with each other and sucking Obama's dick.

To put it short, liberalism is emo in political form.

As with the affirmation of a vague libertarian sensibility, there is also a condemnation of what is still taken to be genuinely evil. The constant invocation of Hitler, the KKK, racism, gay-bashing, killing, etc. would be meaningless if there were not a prevailing sense that these things are bad—and thus potentially offensive—for a reason. Unlike hate groups, ED is unlikely to censor speech with which its elite disagree. Not that A-culture is too concerned with protecting free speech generally; controlling what people say is simply not on the agenda.

With the exception of the politicized hacktivist groups such as Anonymous, which tend toward free-speech absolutism, A-culture participants are inward-looking, despite their concerted efforts to offend outsiders. Hence the shock of encountering someone who genuinely believes in a Jewish conspiracy on IRC:

egomania: the stalin regime's death tol was 20 million
poolboy: i wish someone would do a new holocaust
poolboy: not of jews though
egomania: holocaust ain't got shit on stalin
poolboy: of like, short people or something
Krishna: I spoke to a saudi arabian woman over the internets
Krishna: She was both a hardcore Pro-Arabian
egomania: Amit, just like most races
Krishna: and thought that wikipedia was<
Krishna: a jewish conspiracy
Krishna: but I met her on a roleplaying site
egomania: e doesn't look smug at all
memyselfandi: he actually looks worried and is watching you from the corner if his eye
Krishna: aha
poolboy: i spoke to a woman once
iAno: shut up
Amit: I swear she wasn't trolling, she's from Saudi goddamned Arabia

Some of the most hyperbolic hate on ED is directed at its own Judas, site cofounder Girlvinyl. Last April, in an attempt to build a commercially appealing brand catering to social-Web hype, she shut down ED, tossed its content, and replaced it with the heavily sanitized OhInternet. The original site was resurrected by a group of old contributors at a different URL, leading Girlvinyl to file a copyright-infringement claim. The simultaneous offenses of marketing A-culture to the mainstream and then using the reviled Digital Millennium Copyright Act to censor the original content earned her the permanent enmity of the entire community. Below is ED’s entry on Girlvinyl as of late last year; contrast the bilious hate of the first paragraph with the earnest sanctimony of the second.

Girlvinyl (Pronunciation: fæt weɪl) (Powerword: Sherrod DeGrippo) is in many ways the worst kind of lolcow. She is what you get when you combine the greediest Jew, the darkest nigger, the laziest spic, and the most insane scifag into one triple-extra-large package. Initially a defender of lulz and drama as Queen of Encyclopedia Dramatica, Girlvinyl was gradually corrupted over time as she succumbed to the temptations of hookers and blow and artery-clogging super-sized meals at McDonald's, which culminated in the death of the original Encyclopedia Dramatica at her greasy pig hands. Sherrod is currently overseeing operations at OhInternet, a rip-off of the slightly less fail-tastic, (it links to ED, so that automatically makes it better than OhInternet) but much more popular website Know Your Meme.

Even though the entire premise of ED is to make fun of everyone and everything in the harshest and most lulzy way possible, Girlvinyl's page on the old ED only allowed words of praise from her fanboys. This, in addition to her trying to DMCA ED, shows that she is a hypocrite with a very fragile ego.

Girlvinyl’s actions represent the ultimate betrayal of ED, which by definition fails once it is no longer actually offensive. The fear of such a downfall spurs the contests of offensiveness and continual testing of boundaries by contributors. The prevailing question: “How far can we go without becoming genuinely horrible people?

Porn: SWAP.avi Endgame
(Something Awful)

My God, What Have I Done?: The general reaction when a Goon made swap.avi, one of the most disgusting shock videos ever.
—TV Tropes entry on SWAP.avi, 2012

The creation and publication of SWAP.avi is a signal case of a boundary being crossed, a general sense that irony and deviancy had been pushed too far.1 The video originated on the forums of Something Awful, where one member, Metis, discussed an idea involving a Brazilian porn company that took commissions:

1 As elsewhere, I’m confining discussion to legal matters. 4chan and other sites tend to moderate aggressively to remove any illegal material (mostly child pornography) as soon as it is posted. The issue of illegal online content is a serious one but beyond the scope of this article.

I noticed that they have an option to request a "Custom Video" that allows you to choose the actresses in the movie as well as what they do. First of all, it's a scat/vomit site; their only rule seems to be as follows: "armor-piercing Objects, very severe tortures, menstruation and scenes that involve blood will not be accepted." Good for me, because I hate blood and dislike armor-piercing objects.

I had this idea to request a fetish/movie never done in porn (or life) before: I call it Scat Swapping…

Extensive details followed. Metis stressed the novelty of the concept. The price was $696, and Metis solicited donations from the community. People donated, but there was general concern that Metis was trolling and ripping people off; Metis gave sufficient cause to believe that his interest was sincere. Those who didn’t think it was a bad joke were horrified at Metis’s project before the video even materialized:

This is pretty much the polar opposite of the "buy armor for US soldiers" thread to me.
Just as quickly as my faith in mankind was built up by that thread, it has been torn asunder by this horrible event.

There is no smilie to convey the elation/disgust I feel right now.

And I never thought I'd be disgusted by anything.

Metis, you understand you need help, right? Help in the form of some sort of 12 step meeting that addresses addiction, idiocy.

It might have already been said, but HOLY poo poo THIS IS THE MOST DISGUSTING CONCEPT I'VE EVER SEEN.
Scat swapping, or anything to do with poop for that matter, is about as low on my porn priority tree as furry porn and tentacle surprise sex.

Well I know I'll be getting this, watching it, hating myself for watching, then showing it to everyone I know.

I feel sick just reading this thread. On the other hand, there is a small part of me that is amused by this horrible mission.

Metis became a typical A-culture pariah, simultaneously revered and reviled. Metacommentary and self-mythologizing ensued, anticipating the reaction to the video and projecting its legacy before anyone had seen it:

I enjoy the fact that everybody who's posted to convey revulsion will more than likely end up downloading and watching the film anyway.

This could only be better if the three parties in question were members of this forum.

Only 3 more days before I can say "Young'uns, I've seen it all!"

This is the greatest event to happen in Something Awful history. Ever. Or the worst, depending on how you look at it.

Regardless, this thread/idea is everything I love about the internet: there is a market for everything, no matter how vile and repulsive.

I had seen this thread on the first page of GBS for a while now and finally thought mabey its funny. I'm laughing and shaking my head, and even that makes me feel guilty.
All I could does no one read the front page. We are the bad people. The monsters that hide in a closed membership only fourm, pooling resources tp buy what amounts to the most hosed up pay for sex request ever. And it makes me laugh so hard.
When a fetish pops up and my email account is filled with scat swaping spam, and every other site on geo-cities is scat sawping fan fiction. I expect all of you to help crash there sites. Because you boys have just invented a brand new kind of digital cancer.
And it makes me laugh so hard.

Consequently, SWAP.avi became of great interest:

I don't know why but I must see this film.
This pretty much sums up exactly what I'm thinking. The car crash analogy was good too. This is one of those things that you must watch regardless of how bad an idea your brain/stomach/anus tells you it is.

I can't believe I'm actually going to willingly download scat porn and burn it to CD.

I'd like to think that I'm not going to view it, but it's too horrible not to.

I doubt I'd be able to bring myself to actually watch it, but I must admit I am quite intrigued by the technical challenge of it all.

One poster did point out the neocolonial exploitation aspect of the project, but these concerns were mostly drowned out in the introverted discourse. (More frequently, Metis was accused of exploiting other members to fund his personal fetish.)

The company that Metis has hired has more likely than not forced women to engage in sexual practices that they would not perform if they could compete in a job market that offered an alternative that did not reduce a person's life span more than being exposed to bacteria that was excreted from a human digestive system.

This is a Brazillian company who probably has a stable of drug addicted whores to pull from. They'll make it look like they love nothing more than eating the poo poo that went from one rear end to another, but I'm fairly certain that this is not where they saw their life heading five years ago.

I want to laugh because Metis' idea is barnone the most absurd thing I've ever seen, but the suspicion that I have about these women and the company producing the video makes me feel ghoulish and predatory for looking forward to it.

One morally exculpatory response is interesting:

Watch any "regular" porn? Same deal. Nobody here is innocent, so we might as well all go to our special SA hell together :cthulhu:

Whatever the reasons for the shame, SWAP.avi was a ready-made object of contempt—much of it ecstatic—before it had even been produced. The response to the actual video, when it was finally uploaded, ratcheted up the rhetoric further:

This is a terrible day for humanity.

the earth must be burned, that's the only way it will ever be clean again.

Well, I downloaded it, and I got what I deserved. I'll be formatting my hard drive now. And my brain.

A thousand kittens are dying tonight.

I think I felt a lot better about humanity when whichever admin who banned him declared it a scam... I felt a whole lot better back then.

The pervasive disgust was complemented by such levels of self-awareness and self-mythologizing that irony was mostly frozen out. Without the need to feign jadedness or temper reactions—after all, it had been firmly established that history was being made—the exhibitions of shame and pride became histrionic. (The anonymous participants might not get any credit, but Something Awful certainly would.)

Posting in a history-making thread. Also I will be viewing these pictures to catagorize the disgustingness of the affair.
Oh my jesus christ. This is so much worse than I had thought. Jesus christ no. We have created something that will live on in the history of the internet.

I screamed my skull out of my head and now I must go submerge my deforming body in warm water like some sort of hideous octopus or squid

I've never been one to turn down a good brainfucking, but I sense pure evil in this thread. Or maybe poo poo encrusted evil.
Either way, this video sets man back several hundred years in terms of moral and social development.

The only thing I can think of now is:
Rev. 6:8 "And I looked, and behold a Pale Horse. His name that sat on him was Death. Hell followed with Him."

The memorial to the achievement was Something Awful editor Zack Parsons’s extremely long review of SWAP.avi, which he gave a negative infinity rating in all categories. He described the video’s creation, contents, and terrible effects with mock-solemn bombast:

Imagine if the Holocaust was a 63 minute long video about pooping.

To proceed is to cast caution to the wind and jeopardize the touch-paper of your sanity to an unquenchable fire of tumult. Whether you are frail and weak-willed or hale and sound of mind, the advice remains the same; turn back before you learn that which cannot be unlearnt.

The first person to post in the thread, Ingwit_Agenbite,2 probably best captured the reaction to the news of the video's availability: oh fucking no

2 An apropos reference to the Middle English phrase “agenbite of inwit,” meaning “remorse of conscience,” popularized by the character Leopold Bloom in James Joyce’s Ulysses.

Beyond what I have reviewed in this column over the years I have also seen videos of murders carried out in great detail, videos of horses having sex with people to the point of death and all manner of urination, vomit and live-eel related video. While many of the videos I have just listed are rather unpleasant, none approaches the sheer squalor of this video. It is seemingly endless in duration and each new second brings with it a new horror. Make no effort to find SWAP.avi. Make no attempt to download it for "a laugh". It will change you in ways you will not fully understand for at least a decade.

While the review mostly just reifies the already-extant mythos around the video, Parsons also distinguishes an axis of disgust from an axis of morality by comparing the video to purportedly authentic videos of murders and death. The efforts of Metis and his cohorts, Parsons implies, were meant only to provoke disgust; they have no place on the moral spectrum.

SWAP.avi is a good example of endgame, meaning it is officially the worst thing to ever be created and posted on the internets and, thanks in part to the advanced calculations of Stephen Hawking's wheelchair, it can be said with complete metaphysical certitude that nothing could ever exceed it in terribleness.
—Encyclopædia Dramatica entry on
   SWAP.avi, 2012

The tone of this entry is atypical. ED warns its own members not to investigate a piece of its own cultural history while displaying a mixture of pride and shame that the culture produced such a thing. The hyperbole of the entry serves a purpose beyond irony, establishing a perspectival corrective: Famine and the Holocaust are so obviously worse than SWAP.avi that the comparative unreality of A-culture is all fun and games. The visceral thrill of disgust is there, but “endgame” (note the game) is reached before the harm becomes “real.” The threat is to your stomach, not to your soul. To quote a point made on another board: “I'm sure if some people tried, people can make sicker things in the world, like sick rituals, sacrifices, or some racist thing.”

By creating something so vomit-inducing that even they were disgusted, participants felt they had made their mark on A-culture, raising the stakes. Most people have no interest in doing the same when it comes to the moral taboos—violence, hate crimes, and the like—of A-culture. Likewise, morally contentious issues broached in forums, such as harassment, stalking, and sexual exploitation, are never cited as culture-wide quandaries, nor do they become points of competition to see who can outdo whom.3 The endgame is reserved for comparatively morally innocuous events and achievements.

3 There has been no real competition to, for example, harass families of suicidal teenagers. Such events, in which visibly harmful, “real-life” damage is done, occur sporadically and receive both obligatory praise and ridicule, but do not serve as markers of status in the way of ostensibly victimless events like the production of SWAP.avi.

Events like the production of SWAP.avi serve as regulatory tests in two directions. They remind members of the community that they aren’t going too far, because someone else has already reached endgame. Yet they also suggest members go further, having not yet reached the endgame, while setting the goalposts at a commonly accepted point.

In short, SWAP.avi served four overlapping, partly conflicting purposes, all invoking principles of A-culture:

1. A self-mythologized, record-setting
    point of maximal achievement in
    A-culture. (Economy of offense.)
2. A self-established regulation of
    prurience and enjoyment of extremes.
3. A validation of elitist shame and secret
    knowledge. (Elitism.)
4. An elitist point of moral reassurance
    that A-culture’s “worst” behavior is not
    so bad, compared with that of the
    “real” world. (Economy of unreality;

In addition, there was a strong sense of relief when the video materialized, because community members realized they had not been trolled by Metis. That would have been even more humiliating, and certainly less prestigious, than having made and watched the video. And so the community scored a victory in the arena of the economy of suspicion.

All that said, the genuine moral implications of the video and its creation were mostly skirted, these being the actual point of connection with the world. Tellingly, Parsons’s panegyric to and excoriation of SWAP.avi makes no mention of the circumstances of its actual production, only its funding, treating the video merely as gross-out fodder with a price point. As A-culture burgeons, as its links and interactions with the real world exceed the production of memes, acts of trolling, and the operations of political groups like Anonymous, the economy of unreality will be tested in ways that have much more serious ramifications. A-culture will incorporate greater chunks of the real world into its playworld.