The Dark Side Of The Internet

Something Awful is a brilliant & hillarious humor website (although be forewarned, it’s also very crude & obscene). One of the features SA does daily is called the “Awful Link of the Day”. In some ways, it’s similar to ACPOTI (Anyone Can Post On The Internet), except SA tends to cover a lot of bizarre — and I mean very bizarre — sex sites. Well today, one of SA’s writers, Zack Parsons, wrote a serious piece about how the internet has helped encourage people with bizarre sexual tastes to get together to their, and our, detriment. Here’s the crux of Parsons’ article about the dark side of the internet…

“Today we face an epidemic, both hilarious and horrifying, of new and bizarre sexual subcultures forming virtually overnight thanks to the instant global communication of the Internet. Preexisting subcultures like pedophiles and their child porn were previously suppressed by societal constraints, legal constraints, and the general ickiness of being attracted to children that most people possess on an almost genetic level. Today child pornography and pedophilia have grown through the contacts so easily made on the Internet and supportive communities consisting entirely of pedophiles have swollen in size. We covered one such community in an Awful Link of the Day some months ago and despite our best efforts we did little to disrupt it. Worse than that, the commingling of hundreds of divergent philosophies on the Internet has allowed those who seek moral justification for things like being attracted to or even molesting children to find enablers and supporters outside of the breadth of their community.

The spread of pedophilia and child porn on the Internet, along with the almost equally disturbing growth of support for these activities in the general Internet population, has placed me in a decidedly uncomfortable moral position myself. I am an extremely socially liberal person. I believe that women should be able to abort their fetus the week before it’s born, I believe that the government has no business making marijuana and some other drugs illegal, and most importantly I believe in the total freedom of someone to say whatever they want. At the same time I am horrified by this growing shift in the way people view pedophiles and the way pedophiles view themselves. Thanks to the Internet they gather together on forums and websites and share fantasies, discuss their attractions, and nurture one another’s borderline criminal sexuality. Loathe though I am to admit it, stopping them through legislation as long as they are not harming any children seems nearly as abhorrent to me as the concept of what they are doing.

…Since I took this gig writing for Something Awful almost three years ago I have encountered an increasing volume of perversity on the Internet as part of my job description. I’ve gone from randomly encountering it, to actively seeking it out for the purposes of mockery. I’ve found individuals and groups that have sexualized things like sneezing, farting, popping balloons, inflating latex or rubber body suits, and most frequently, I’ve encountered furries.

I won’t bore you with the complete history of the furry culture, but needless to say it is relatively long, convoluted, and owes the penis-sheathed lion’s share of its popularity to the Internet. It has gradually transformed over the years from a slight fixation with anthropomorphic characters to a lifestyle choice that involves donning elaborate costumes and awkwardly humping in convention center hotels. The bottom line is that furries would basically be nonexistent were it not for the Internet. They would be thousands – maybe tens of thousands – of healthy and relatively well adjusted people with maybe a slight fascination with Gadget from “Rescue Rangers. In other words they would be “Mundanes” as the furries call the rest of us with hilarious derision.

Unlike child molesters, furries aren’t hurting anyone or anything beyond maybe their parent’s dignity, so why should we care? Because, furries are perhaps the best example of the uniting power of the Internet gone wrong. Composed almost to a person of outsiders, nerds, and the generally disenfranchised, furries went from a sort of dorky support group to a hardcore, aggressive, and somewhat abrasive sexual identifier in a matter of a few years. IRC rooms, websites, and even the presence of furries in various more normal Internet locales have attracted those who have difficulty finding their place in this world. There can be no convincing argument made that their lifestyle is genetic, necessary, or anything but forced. They have latched onto the lifestyle purely out of desperation and a need for acceptance.

Once they are a part of the furry lifestyle they devote all available energy to it almost without exception. They draw furry art, write furry stories, attend conventions of likeminded individuals, and in extreme cases don the aforementioned suits and commence humping. Some even go to the borderline psychosis extreme of acting out a “fur” identity at all times by using their furry alter ego and its fictitious behavior in an almost spiritual sense on a day to day basis. For some being a furry is roughly analogous – in terms of the impact it has on their life – to being a member of a cult, although I’m not even suggesting that I expect furries to consume poison Sunny-D en masse any time soon.

Furries are the most obvious example of a pervasive trend on the Internet for spontaneous, almost unexplainable, and definitely bizarre sexual identities to be created from scratch. From there they are enabled by the Internet to snowball out of control, picking up the debris of society that might have otherwise found a respectable or positive way to contribute to our culture….

…I’ve talked about how the Internet enables pedophiles, furries, and others to congregate and share ideas, but I only briefly touched on the most important aspect of this. In the endless expanse of communications the Internet is, probably the greatest and most terrible gift it offers to furries, pedophiles, and others, is the ability to shut themselves off from the mainstream. They huddle in cloisters that are virtually unassailable by the outside world and whisper encouraging things to one another that would be nearly impossible to say in real life. Free from the pressures of society to conform to a boring standard they go in the exact opposite direction, externalizing things that are roughly as far from “normal” as can be expected. Then, within their protected virtual enclaves, they declare these things to be the norm. By declaring their perversions, mores, and general imbecility to be their own status quo they have simultaneously validated their own existence and demonstrated the inferiority of outsiders.

A sense of belonging and community is disturbing and sad in the hands of furries and downright dangerous in the hands of pedophiles. Nonetheless, this is what the Internet has given to these groups, and it can be both a peril to the members and, in the case of menaces like pedophiles, a peril to the rest of us….”

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