Behold, the goatses of the five biggest social media services.
As long as we eat, there are going to be assholes. But while a physical asshole deals with vital processes, the Internet asshole does the exact opposite, pouring out unnecessary shit in front of everyone.
Shouting "FIRST" is a spiritual sphincter failure.
Most online idiots are extensions of stupidities we have in the real world: con artists, zealots, homophobes, and others who project more shitty internal problems than an IMAX colonoscopy. But some people evolved to exploit new niches of assholery in the online environment, like those worms that live in the human colon. Except we'd rather have the worms, because there are pills we can take to kill those.
"Take this, MingeKampf420!"
Behold, the goatses of the five biggest social media services.
Twitter is an online intelligence test. You choose who to follow, so how happy Twitter makes you is a direct indication of your own abilities. You can get insights from some of the coolest people on (and off) the planet, or an endless stream of Instagrammed sandwiches and illiterate swearing. It's the Internet equivalent of that evil tree-cave in The Empire Strikes Back: You could go wading hip deep in filth and end up fighting lunatics, but that's only a reflection of yourself.
The most metaphysical dick-waving contest of all time.
If you don't like someone, unfollow. Done. But the disapproving follower instead starts a single-handed siege, determined to change the mind of someone they've never met with nothing but retweets and OTHER ALL CAPS STATEMENTS, USUALLY SWEARING, YOU FUCK. Instead of moving on with their lives, or discussing differing opinions, these morons clutch harder to the burning coals of their own hatred as they scream, "STOP BEING SO HOT, YOU FAG!" (Note: That's also the secret thought of many homophobes.) They usually claim to be defending deep beliefs. Deep beliefs so insecure that anyone else in the entire world disagreeing reduces them to frothing rage.
If you're using a global supercomputer network to find the one person whose short messages disagree with you, you'd damn well better be Batman chasing the Riddler.
Each service has a function. Twitter turns everyone into fortune-cookie generators, and Facebook is the restaurant they're hanging out in. Despite becoming Exploit Your Personal Data for Profit Incorporated, hundreds of millions of people still use Facebook, because it's the easiest way to stay vaguely aware of friends and family without actually talking to them. You see big announcements, birthday parties, when people are back in the country, and bloody pictures of festering animals and dead people.
Surprise! One of your friends is an asshole!
This is someone who cares so much about a cause that they electronically trigger gore porn. And anyone using the same plan as the Saw movie villain is clearly in the right. There's no doubt that some of these causes are important. But you were grinning at your nephew's cute Halloween party and chatting with some friends about going to the pub. If someone heaved a mutilated corpse into either of those situations, you'd hate them then, too, and subconsciously you now hate the goddamn disasters for interrupting your comfy life. Which is terrible, and selfish, and precisely the complacent attitude the person was trying to get you out of, but they've just made it worse. When someone is taken by surprise and given the choice between "look at pus-filled horror" or "fuck off," it's option 2 all the way.
"This Internet is full of naked bodies, and you want me to look at dying dolphins? Talk to the hand. But be quick. I'll be using it in a minute."
You want us to donate to worthy causes? You're right, we should! In fact, I do, and for each cause it was because someone cared enough to make a real point. If you want to convince your friends and family, write them personal messages. If you want to convince followers, write a post. Both of them require actual effort. And are therefore infinitely more effective than taking a second to feel righteous about clicking "share" on horrorporn. Worst of all, this doesn't have the same easy fix as Twitter. You could just block them from your friends list, but unlike them, you're not prepared to sacrifice chunks of your social life for a cheap emotional reaction.
Tumblr is a great place for artists to share their work, and an even better place for assholes to rip it off. We're not talking about stealing material. Theft is an old crime, and one Cracked has experience with. At least two people have already copied and pasted this article without even reading this bit about them doing it. My Internet Safety Tips and Tattoos infographic regularly appear on other sites, and I don't care, because Cracked deals with article theft "professionally." Which doesn't involve dispatching shadowy men with bar codes on their heads. It means getting paid to do it and not letting it affect our personal lives. Because plenty of people already know about Cracked and where those pieces come from.
Many people know I'm responsible for this. I'm not saying that's a good thing.
I write for a shitload of sites. Apparently.
(What I learned from the tattoo piece: some people make confident statements with beautiful body art, while other people are so insecure an infographic gets their nuts in a twist.)
The new crime is stripping the attribution/website links off artwork and reposting it because you're a "fan." If an artist is already providing something for free in the hope of getting noticed, cutting out their name is the evil opposite of hating the sin but not the sinner. By making sure the artist doesn't get any benefit, they're making sure the artist doesn't make more.
It's the most pathetic act possible to perform online. People often claim they're "cleaning up" the image, but there's only one truth: Their lives are so barren that they're trying to claim credit for liking something good, and the fact that someone else actually made it distracts from that. You'd be less pitiable if you were caught cybering with your own sock puppet. Hell, it'd be less tragic to be webcammed having sex with a real sock.
"Oooh, your twin's a dirty girl!"
I understand that some people aren't computer experts, but for email, that's like understanding that some people used to publicly have sex with monkeys. Back then, people and monkeys weren't such different concepts. We're past that stage now. And anyone still doing it is just spreading horrible things among the rest of us.
"And that asshole said he would call me!"
Email is the circulatory system of getting shit done. When Twitter and Tumblr ideas escalate to actually happening, or Facebook users realize that they'd actually rather work than see one more piece of PlaceVilling proof that their friends are morons, people turn to the "To" field. There are still a few companies that email you a form and tell you to fax it back, but they're like a racist great-aunt complaining about the nursing home staff. You just nod and put up with it and wait for them to die. (If you really have to deal with such idiots, FaxZero lets you turn emails into faxes for free.)
"Hmm, this fax says we're running low on quills, leeches, and crude loincloths cut from the hide of saber-tooth tigers."
Email is like your mouth: You can use it to give very special attention to one person, or communicate with a group, but some people insist on vomiting all over the entire world. They put their entire address book into the CC field because this list of ten thousand jokes about cute kittens who found Jesus is the one that will make them less alone. Using CC instead of BCC is the email equivalent of unprotected sex, but much less fun. Now anyone can inject horrible things into the entire group.
Don't be sorry, BCC. (Guest starring the Invisible Man)
The address book CC is the mating call of the asshole with nothing better to do. It triggers an electronic Katamari of idiocy, rolling up a horde of Re:Re:Re:Repeats of the initial crime as morons reply to the entire group instead of the sender. Each reply wastes everyone's time. Especially since the "new email" icon on phones is now a Pavlovian response.
"It's not squirting MUCH, just hold it till I check my mail!"
There's no excuse for it. Any email program not programmed in stone has "Reply" as the default instead of "Reply All" anyway. You have to purposely choose the second option, a conscious decision to join the ranks of digital dickheads. A parade crowned by the king of the assholes, the one who replies all to scream "STOP REPLYING ALL!" Because they're too lazy to isolate the responsible parties or avoid becoming everything they hate.
The other assholes on this list evolved to infest new environments, but the worst thing evolution can throw up is an old enemy in a new form. The Internet is incubating some serious problems based on sicknesses we've already beaten. A great example of this is the anti-vaccine morons.
Patient Zero. Also IQ zero, medical qualifications zero.
Specialized forums install methane-induction compressors in the lower colon, because they're turbochargers for assholes. They're saving whole species of douchebag from extinction. Stormfront weaklings, misogynist cowards, anti-vax reversals of evolution, and homophobic failures now spend their spare time constantly reassuring each other that they're all right. Normally the social Brownian motion of interacting with other people would smooth off their rougher edges, or at least force them to keep quiet about them. But now they've uploaded their sense of community to a forum where everyone has the exact same problem. Instead of using the Internet to learn, they're carving out these asshole amplification chambers and marching out into the world louder than ever.
Good thing they banned swastikas. Otherwise the place might look bad.
Luckily, the solution to these problems is laughably simple. Laugh at these people, because they're simple. Explain how they're wrong, because it's important to stand against idiocy. Then refuse to get into an argument, because online screaming matches are just wasted time and hatred, and their entire lives have been spent training in exactly that.
Then use the most amazing information system ever made properly. Meet new people, find amazing things, and learn as much as you can. For example: MIT is now offering all its course materials for free. You could start learning aeronautics, neuropyschology, metaphysics, or any of a hundred other subjects, right now, for free. Or you could sit on your ass and refresh Facebook for another half hour. Go!
Because history teaches us that there are two types of people: the ones who use new tools, and the ones anthropologists dig up later.
Luke also looks at The 6 Worst Inspirational Posters Ever Made by Man, and probed the limits of an online asshole by taking The Donald Trump Endurance Challenge. Luke has a Tumblr and responds to every single tweet.
For more online assholery, check out The Cheater's Guide to Winning Online Arguments or The 7 Most Elaborate Dick Moves in Online Gaming History.