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If Columbus Had Explored The Internet

Columbus Day is more than just about celebrating a man, it's about remembering a time when Mother Earth still seemed mysterious, wild and unpredictable. Sadly, in 2010 there is little left of her body to explore; it's nearly impossible to find an area of the world that isn't blemished by the welted handprint of humanity.

A McDonald's on every corner, like Columbus envisioned.

However, the expansion of the Internet over the past decade has revealed a new terra incognita online. So, on this momentous day in history I am announcing my bid to become the one true Internet Explorer. For the past few weeks I have journeyed through the Internet and documented my travels with such humbling clarity and insightful insight that it will stand as proof of my abilities. My only hope is that some years in the future-when comment sections are finally blessed with civility and literacy, and all the LOL Cats have been hunted into extinction-that I am remembered with some commemorative statue or at least a holiday to honor me, the one man who pioneered reason in this grand expanse of chaos that is the Internet.

September 18th: Ebay

I started my journey from the most easily accessible harbor I could find. I Googled "Bay." I Googled it deeply. At the top of the search results was Ebay. The site revealed a whole network of trade the natives had already established. It seemed like a good starting point where I could pick up provisions for the rest of my journey.

As I explored the Ebay, I realized that the locals operated on a limited understanding of monetary value. They attempted to barter with useless trinkets, like bags of trash and animal excrement. Still, I managed to find some objects of worth. I purchased a haunted clown doll for only $99.

It was one of a much larger collection of haunted clown dolls, and the seller assured me that, "AFTER SEVERAL MONTHS OF CONTINUOUS INVESTIGATION AND RESEARCH, WE CONTACTED THE SPIRIT THAT POSSESSED THESE CLOWN DOLLS, MOST LIKELY, VERY YOUNG BOYS THAT DIED IN THE HARTFORD CIRCUS FIRE. SOME OF THE SPIRITS SAY THEY WERE COUSINS." I had no choice but to trust MagicBlessings after seeing the urgency and earnestness of all the capitalized letters in her description. I was fortunate to get one of the remaining 27 haunted figures. If there is anything that I had gleaned from Lewis and Clark, John Smith and Pocahontas, Dora and Boots, it's that great explorers always need companionship and I would find mine in the spirit of a burned up child trapped in the stuffed body of a circus clown. Also, shipping was free. With the perfect team assembled, we pressed on.

September 20th: Craigslist

My brief communication with MagicBlessings taught me of another trade route, deeper in the heart of the Internet where they trafficked everything from furniture to sex. She called it Craigslist.com. I followed her lead and was impressed to see the complex system of exchange these indigenous people utilized. They negotiated in more than just money, offering narcotics and mp3 players in exchange for other mp3 players and sometimes bookshelves.

Rather than relying on mail service, Craigslist seemed to encourage human contact between buyer and seller. This was particularly true in the Casual Encounters portion of the website. I was curious about the mating habits of the locals and explored the section thoroughly.

I determined through my research that while every culture will tell you that their men and women are the most beautiful in the world, in the case of the Internet, they don't really mean it. The men of this tribe, from what I understand, run naked and without shame. The women, however, are timid and can only be photographed from angles high above their heads or in poor light making it impossible to tell if any of them possess physical qualities that might distinguish them from men. In order to examine a specimen more closely, I responded to an ad posted by DivaGina.

I think I'm pronouncing that right.

It was titled, "Let's Chat." It requested, "Just phone play and pics." I responded and the interaction began immediately with texts. The full exchange is documented below:

Soren: Hello.

DivaGina: Im 5'2/110/Ccup.

Soren: OK.

DivaGina: Your specs? Pic?

Soren: I don't speak your language.

DivaGina: Your unit. How big?

Soren: My unit is only two strong. It is me and my haunted clown.

DivaGina: ?

Soren: Sorry, I should have been more specific. It is not a real clown. In fact, looking at it now there isn't much that's clown-like about it. It is haunted by the ghost of a child who died in a tent fire known as the "Day the Clowns Cried." I don't know for certain if the doll was there or how the soul got into the doll but it happened in Har

Soren: Sorry, the text cut off because it was too long. I w

Soren: Oops, I didn't mean to push send yet. I was going to say "Hartford."

DivaGina: You cut/uncut?

Soren: Like edited?

DivaGina: pssssh. Fuck you. Waist of energy.

Soren: Yes, finally. I am curious about your coupling strategies. What is the "Waist of Energy?" Is that a mid-torso chakra thing or a position?

DivaGina: Eat a dick.

Soren: I hope that's not something I can anticipate from this encoun

Soren: God, this keyboard is impossibly small.

[End]

We never got to the phone play, DivaGina was mysteriously cut off on her end. I was discouraged to lose valuable time with nothing to show for it. I suspected this is how explorers felt when they encountered a river too wide and fast to cross, or more specifically, when they encountered a native who offered phone sex and then disappeared. I attempted to backtrack by typing "Chat" in the search field but it directed me to several other chat sites. I cut my losses and moved on, clicking on the first: Chatroulette.com. I will offer my detailed analysis tomorrow.

October 6th: Chatroulette

I have spent a cumulative 370 hours exploring Chatroulette. From what I can gather, the chat-with-video is a relatively new advancement here. I have a hard time believing the people using this new tool are the same who created it as their ability to wield it remains primitive and clumsy. They are in the early stages of discovery, attempting to solve their basest needs with this piece of technology; the majority of the savages I've encountered are still trying to have sex with it. However, they seem to be learning. I predict within the next few years that they will discover they can argue through the tool and I'm certain that within a decade they will learn to end debates by equating the topic at hand to Nazi Germany.

It is a remarkable feeling to, in effect, step back in time and watch the evolution of mankind's cognitive ability, though I fear the potential among this group is limited. Earlier today I mistook the actions of one of these people to be prayer; he was hunched over in frame and mumbling. It took several minutes for me to realize his intention was to fellate himself. I can't stay here any longer.

October 8th: Facebook

I believe I am finally at the core of social exchange on the Internet. My nearly-religious Chatroulette friend suggested I start a Facebook profile. I joined immediately. The natives are highly engaged in one another's lives and have developed a rudimentary system of politics that is unlike anything I have seen in the web so far. If, for instance, you were to "like" a baby photo from a "friend", that friend is then obliged to comment on your relationship status update. Failure to participate in the compliment swap will result in misdirected anger.

Generally the anger manifests itself in defriendings.

But the most remarkable characteristic of the Facebook people is that they've built a system without any room for negativity. An individual either "likes" something or moves on, either "joins" a group or "ignores" the invitation. There is no dissent, only silence. The one outlet they have to express indignation or hatred is through the comments, but even that resource is limited to the confusion of their stunted vocabulary and grammar.

And yet everyone, for the most part, stays optimistic and happy. It's as though the people understand the importance and gravity of their participation in this new Eden though they lack the cognitive tools to express it. Instead they use the same word repeatedly when describing anything they encounter. "Epic" they say over and over. Everything is epic. "Exactly," I want to tell them, "I am writing one for you as we speak" but I don't understand yet how to post on other walls. I have resigned myself to poking.

October 9th: The Edge of the Internet

Through Facebook I discovered thousands of faction groups I could join. An experimental click on one led me to the edge of the Internet. I traveled through the teeming wilderness and came out the other side, landing on the NCAI homepage. Somehow this site has remained uninhabited by any group of people at all. The tiny pocket in the fringe of the web is untouched by humanity yet it seems ripe for colonization.

Incidentally, the clown doll has started acting up ever since we arrived. I was beginning to suspect that the doll wasn't really haunted, but something about this empty website has excited it.

"This place has many hearts."

I would be lying if I said I wasn't excited as well. I have explored from one end of the internet to another and my journey feels complete.

In parting, I would like everyone to consider this undiscovered chunk of Internet real-estate my gift to you. In return, I only ask that sometime in the distant future while you are invested in a philosophical debate on Chatroulette, or while you watch a video posted to your wall of a sleeping college student getting slapped in the face by genitals, that you think of me. I want you to think of me and whisper my name. God, I have given you so much.

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