From N00B to Nerd: The 4 Stages of Life on the Internet

The real world is for losers. You might be a weightlifting fireman who cares for injured puppies, but you'll never find a soulmate until you can filter potential mates based on a single quote and their favorite Harry Potter character. Online people aren't held back by outdated caveman concepts like "appearance," "physical skills" or "not swallowing Big Macs dissolved in Pepsi."

In the virtual world of Second Life, users realize that the freedom to specify the dimensions and species of your electronic penis outweigh primitive advantages like "being able to feel anything with it." Such people are clearly dangerous, but despite their own best efforts are actually multiplying. Digital lives have become as important as the real thing, prompting CRACKED to provide this guide to the life stages of the Internetizen*.

* We're working on a way to target missiles on abstract concepts.
It may be impossible, violating both physics and reason, but in the
hope of firebombing this word we are prepared to make the effort.

#1. Infancy

In the Real World
Real world babies were invented by God, presumably to give sex a downside.

On the Web
Like their real world counterparts, N00borns make a LOT OF NOIZE LOL ;), are unable to read FAQs and, no matter how much you might want to, you can't just throw them into traffic.

You can tell you're talking to an internet infant when you open an e-mail to find a huge, stinking diaper filled with five hundred lawyer jokes, or some other list we can only assume was created by Carlos Mencia as a eugenic weapon to cause intense pain in anybody with a sense of humor. Those who can enjoy reading such lists should not have a computer to do so with, as they could better spend the money on a jewel-encrusted "World's Most Boring Person" mug. Or, if mug stock is unavailable, a pistol with a single bullet.

#2. The Teenage Years

In the Real World
Modern media teaches the lesson that everyone is a beautiful and unique snowflake deserving of love and attention. Unfortunately, this lesson uses up the majority of the classtime previously used for "spelling,""self respect" and "How even a beautiful unique snowflake should sit down and shut up sometimes."

It's not that teenagers can't develop skills or talents; it's just that, thanks to shows like American Idol and Survivor, most American teenagers aren't aware there ARE such things as skill or talent. Their sole yardstick for measuring success is composed of "idiots" and "idiots who got famous."

On the Web
The internet teenager desperately pushes their terrible site with posts and IM messages and an animated signature file that can be seen from space. If these guys worked half as hard on their material as they did promoting it, there would be a new renaissance. Slash-fics of Harry and Draco would top the bestseller list, universities would offer PhDs in Emo Poetry and the Pain of Being, and the Mona Lisa would be moved into storage to make room for "Dragon Has Sex with Trans-gendered Anime Panda, Parts I - VII." Luckily, all time spent by a teenager online is used up begging, whining and pleading with every person they meet to visit their shitty MySpace page.

Listen up: If you're trying to get famous one person at a time, logically you're probably going to die of old age before that happens. Accept it. Paris Hilton didn't tour the country's coffee shops sleeping with people one by one- she slept with a handful of people in the most spectacularly slutty ways possible, thereby successfully fame-whoring. It should also be noted that when Paris Hilton is the positive example of something you're doing wrong, you have officially reached the lowest point in all of existence. You'll have to cure cancer just to be promoted back to "dumbass," and even then you'll be haunted by the ghost of Anna Nicole Smith shaking her head and muttering "Jesus, man, have some self respect."

#3. Adulthood

In the Real World
We're training a species of beetle to crawl through human flesh and eat brain tissue that contains certain words, which we will sell online. If you think people won't buy them and shove them right into their ears, it's because you live in the blissful ignorance of regular adulthood, where you're unaware of what words like "tubgirl" or "lemonparty" mean. The first time you see something you really wish you hadn't is when you lose your internet virginity. It's not an exact equivalent to losing your real life virginity, as despite the embarrassment and fumbling, losing your virginity in the real world is still sex and therefore potentially enjoyable. The electronic version is more like losing your virginity to a four-hundred-pound meth addict in an alley filled with hypodermic needles.

On the Web
The real sign of online adulthood is the daily grind. Your first faltering steps on the web were probably to look up a website you'd read about in a newspaper, or maybe to use this "google" device you'd been hearing about to look up pictures of your favorite band/team/TV show. (The older among you may remember choosing between different search engines, then using a primitive stone axe to defend yourself from a tyrannosaurus who wanted to check his/her BBS).

These days, though, the bloom is off the rose. First, you grind through your email and RSS feeds, slugging coffee. If you work hard you might get to your news headlines and daily sites before lunch, then slog through those forum posts in the afternoon. It's a tough job, but someone's apparently paying you to do it.

#4. Old Age

In the Real World
Real old people always claim things were better in their day, which of course is a lie. Human society used to consist of eating dung in a cave and now contains video games and mini-beef-burger pizzas, with an unbroken chain of improvements in between. When they say "Things were better in the old days," they really mean "Things were better for us, personally, when we weren't so ridiculously old, and all you idiots weren't here being young at us."

On the Web
Internet Old Age is different, as we're capable of remembering things that actually used to be better: like the glory days of Napster, where it went around teaching people how fun and easy it could be to steal things in a relatively anonymous, consequence-free environment. This epic revelation led directly to the ongoing titanic Caged Deathmatch Litigation Battle Extreme, "the RIAA vs Sanity and Progress."

We remember a time before iTunes, when RealJukeBox won our hearts, then took our approval as a sign that it should repaint our computer "Real Corporation Public Access Point #453." To picture how well this went down, imagine thanking a waiter for your food, then arriving home to find him moving into your house. Then he comes at you with a knife, but you're carrying a chainsaw. And a flamethrower. And you're backed by a gang of your friends in the local SWAT team, all of whose girlfriends have just left them for waiters.

Analysts predicted YouTube would go the way of Napster after what seemed like the worst move since Captain America said "Tony Stark is my best friend forever, snipe me in the back and shoot me three times in the gut if I'm wrong!" They agreed to stop showing things that weren't, you know, "theirs," and suddenly looked like an accountant trying to swing it at a college party. "Hi there, Internet! Hey, you guys like copyright law and restricted access, right? Groovy!"

But it seems like they'll actually survive this content-ectomy, if only because the analysts underestimated just how many times people are prepared to watch kittens fall off chairs.

You damn kids.

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