Before I essentially rant my metallic heart out about stuff that ultimately seems stupid to most rational not online people, I wanna preface that while the topics and particulary archetypes of people I've witnessed throughout my entire internet life that I am recounting can be considered to an extent, vauging and petty, I wanna believe that most of these people as individuals themselves are probably just alright people especially offline. I myself am no exception to being precieved similary for how I may have or continue to act which I can acknowledge and have been actively trying to atleast keep an open and self aware mind about but all of that does not mean I will sugarcoat some of my frustrations/anger towards certain topics I will bring up nor will I also try to be all sunshine and rainbows/pretend that I like some of these certain archetypes as ultimately that can also be very harmful and detrimental to how I view/discuss a topic as broad and complicated as this. These are all based off my personal experiences and the revelations I have come to especially since last year and now through my own experiences and if it has personally connected to you in one way or another that's atleast comforting to know but idk if I should really care about that anyways.
Content warning:This article will mention possibly sensitive topics such as Kiwifarms/Lolcow esc sites, mental health, online grooming, child endangerment/taking advantage of minors, discoursey topics/discussions and similar otherwise kinda stupid dumb online bullshit.
Alongside this article I will link to some other articles I've read on similar topics relating to the being online:I don't want to be an Internet person by Ginvera Davis
‘I am 30 years old and I miss the old internet. The beautiful people are in charge, just like everywhere else’ by Marie Le Conte
"I hate the web" from the website user, Aehse
My story to being introduced to the internet is no more special than any other especially for people who were born in the 2000s range. My biggest childhood memory is of using my beloved ipad which is sadly no longer with me this day, I had absolutely no idea how to use it beyond playing pre downloaded games and watching youtube videos but that didn't matter to me as that was essentially my whole world. Due to many personal family issues, being a "weird" kid (aka a fucking autist) and a plethora of other things, I grew up very isolated with nobody around my age who really wanted to hang out with me atleast till the ages of 9-10. Mlp and Lps videos, playing flash games on multiple pcs and eventually lurking in different fandom related websites such as deviantart or fanfiction.net were all of my entertainment and this especially worsened as my interest in regular cable tv dwindled. I essentially grew an internet addiction which only in recent years have I've been climbing out off.
Eventually when I grew older enough to learn how emails worked and could download my own mobile apps, I was attracted to places like Amino which were heavily advertized as fandom and art friendly or places like instagram since that was what all the cool kids at school were using to document their personal lives. Despite having more avenues to express myself, I was still stuck in that very awkward area where I was too socially inept to properly communicate with people outside and inside my irl circles. It was when I was 12 when I had slowly started to get the ropes of being online especially as an artist where I disconnected myself from everyone who knew me personally/in real life and aimed for something bigger.
Right before my 13th birthday, I had discovered a game which I gained an incredibly large special interest in at the time, as I was also using tumblr around the time, I got introduced and joined my first ever discord server where I felt finally accepted into/could talk on and on about topics I enjoyed that these people also enjoyed. At first I had used the server as a place to of course talk about that specific game whether it be headcanons or aus, I would also use it to share my art which boosted my confidence to improve my digital drawing skills even more, this was till I had access to a discourse/ranting channel where users could rant about any given topic as long as it tagged and censored following the server's blacklist. Previously I had no real use for such a channel, that was till the end of October when the Hazbin Hotel pilot dropped which only started what could described as a butterfly effect to come.
Now, I won't go into specifics about Hazbin Hotel drama but especially back then, I had a few grievences with it and more specifically the creator herself. When the pilot dropped and the internet was split into two major sides, those who majorly supported Hazbin Hotel and those who hated it, I was in the camp of those who vehemently despised Hazbin Hotel. This hatred eventually grew from me ranting about the property and creator inside that rant channel to eventually redesigning and rewriting the characters/premise which lead to me and similary minded people to creating our very own rewrite server for certain pieces of media with varying degrees of "problematic" elements. Eventually my hatred of Hazbin Hotel lead me to the Hazbin Hotel critical tumblr community and on a larger scope, the tumblr critical and rewrite/reclaiming community which lead me to a Vivziepop/Hazbin Hotel centric rewrite server. All at the age of 13 mind you, the most logical thing was that a 13 year old shouldn't have even been in such groups discussing Hazbin Hotel, a very not child approapiate media in the first place but nobody cared, there was a common enemy everyone had their eyes on so something such as age wasn't important to most of these people, as long as you thought similary to them.
Eventually I grew bored of posting in that game centric discord server regulary and focused a majority of my time in that rewrite server and the only times I would ever post in that game centric server was either to post about discourse in that discourse channel or to vent heavy stuff happening to me to essentially a bunch of strangers online. What I've told you so far should logically already be sending a bunch of big red alarm bells or flags in your head but I swear, it gets worse. My hatred of vivziepop/hazbin hotel grew so huge I was almost hyperfixated on the mere idea of spiting vivziepop or fan communities of her projects, it would be almost all I would ever talk about online, it was an unheathly addiction, not helped being fueled by similarly naive minors at the time or full blown adults behind these servers. These people in that rewrite server I was in, especially one particulary infamous person encouraged me to not only seek out discourse/grievences relating to vivziepop media such as creator critical/rewrite blogs or being catty to people who opposed my opinion but to also seek out other means of discourse such as, everyone's favourite discourse topic: proshipping/ the anti anti vs antis discourse, I regularly was exposed to porn by these users who would make problematic material or discourse related arguements such as a user who genuinly believed consentual incest was a-ok. There was even a small amount of time where I was told to join a server relating to hazbin hotel rewrites/critic where there was a very open nsfw channel I had access to despite me mentioning I was 13. In hindsight this should've been the easiest situation to objectively look at and go "no, this is wrong and harmful to me" but as stated earlier, I was on an addiction high being fueled by similarly minded me, it felt like nothing could possibly go wrong, until it did.
At the tail end of the year to the first two months of 2020, said quite infamous "friend" of mine from that rewrite server who I had grown quite a bond with got into trouble with a at the time quite large and active user in the art commentary/online art community spaces on youtube. What did said "friend" do? They really disliked this youtuber, and since this youtuber had also done Hazbin Hotel redesigns but were neutral on the hazbin hotel discourse, they "reclaimed" this youtuber's redesigns, redrew them in their own style with things such as the body type changed and passive aggressively made a statement about how much they disliked this youtuber and how they "weren't worthy" of these redesigns so the designs were theirs to keep. The youtuber actually caught wind of this and started posting publicly about this which gained them quite a lot of support, not helped with the fact this "friend" had a particularly nasty habbit of to put it nicley: NOT KNOWING WHEN TO STFU ONLINE, which really bit them in the ass for this situation. This all happened when I was asleep and later when I was in school. This "friend" of mine had already exposed me to multiple nsfw/problematic porn artists and had encouraged me to keep fighting with a user who had previously sent me an ask about how I shouldn't been in such spaces as I had stated that I was a minor, threatning to get involved before I told them taht me and that person had handled and apologized for what happened. I ended up ultimately being the one who innitially told them to just delete everything they posted relating to that youtuber and to apologize for what happened, something I had to do TWICE as they went back on their word just to be petty/get the last word which only angered the youtuber as other people in that rewrite server got involved defending this person, btw adults, one of whom vauged at commiting suicide over the asks of that youtuber cause of fucking reclaiming redesign bullshit. Eventually when everything finally calmed down and that "friend" apologized in the vaugest way possible to that youtuber, it was over and done with but the consequences were big and detrimental. Around this time too, I had discovered the online forum site known as Kiwifarms, most people know/normally associate it as a hate site, not helped with the site's known bigoted creator and it's pretty deranged userbase. When this all happened, this "friends" redesigns/the drama ended up being posted on a forum related to Hazbin Hotel, this alongside all of the attention that came from the youtuber's big following posting about it ultimately broke me and changed me for the worst. Despite the fact I never got personally involved online and was ultimately a witnesser to the events that occurred, it fucking terrified me. It made me paranoid over certain users, especially of that forum finding the specific server, raiding that server and doxxing/revealing the personal information of everyone in that server including me, it made me paranoid over my first and rewrite tumblr aaccounts so bad that I deleted my every trace of them existing alongside making sure nobody had archived these blogs existence on stuff like wayback machine. It made me controlling making sure anybody related deleted everything related to the incident or possible posts that could be used as leverage for these users. I genuinly believed that whenever I was "caught", my life would be on the line and these people would come to me in real life and do very terrible things to me, all because of guilty by association.
Eventually due to my paranoia and my hatred of hazbin hotel dying so much that it wasn't enjoyable anymore to simply rant about it anymore, I packed my metaphorical bags and left that rewrite server for good, not before deleting every message I made on that server as well as advising the mods to make the server private in case a raid happens. After that, I was basically left to my own devices, I was still terrified of what could happen but I had no one to confide with about the situation. I couldn't comprehend what I went through till more recent years when I came to my own conclusions about these types of groups and the communities/people that surround them and the general environment.
Major sob story aside now, what does all of this have to do with modern social media? you may be asking, it's actually very simple answer but still remains hard to discuss due to the naunces with something as broad as being online as well as the fact a majority of people who were/are in similar spaces/situations are, in most cases very young and impressionable. To be quite frank, I am very concerned over the online environment that has been built throughout the years, especially in relations to online discoursing and more especially "critical" communities and how it's interferring with very impressionable kids/teens abilities to properly navigate online spaces, discuss certain naunced and complicated topics without going on a full blown fucking online war with two extreme sides and the dangers of oversharing especially when iresponsible adults are in the picture, encouraging unheathly behaviour.
If it haven't been made obvious already, the internet is a very scary place to be in, that doesn't mean it's nessacarily evil, lots of good things have come out of the internet, I also refer back to this image when thinking about it.
However that doesn't negate when harm has been done, which is a lot. Now this is in no way a new issue, children being in dangerous or harmful situations especially have always existed and no matter how many "internet safety 101" psas or calls to get their parents involved in monitering their usage of the internet, this will cause such teens to rebel and seek out situations where the obvious solution to avoid these harmful circumstances are not obvious to them even if they're aware of the harm. The internet especially through the years with the death of things such as flash or kid centric/focused sites has become particulary unfriendly for minors to navigate safely on, all of this alongside the pandemic which made internet usage more intergral for everyday life can only spell a recipe for disaster.
I've witnessed and seen how these spaces have more recently evolved online since the pandemic from the years 2019/2020 to now (2023 as of writing this) especially in relation to fandom spaces online which are pretty much hard to resist finding/encountering especially if you're a young teen to early adult on the internet. For my examples of these unhealthy/toxic online spaces I will be using certain terms and going-ons common on this certain part of the internet, mostly on twitter from the (insert thing) subtwt people or what I like to more recently call them "fed"twt people (the name will make sense shortly). Once again as I said earlier, no way are these behaviour or even archetypes of people new online, from my examination of similarly dumb or crazy (most often) fandom online drama, it all starts to blend in where it just feels like a repeat of the same activity/behaviour over and over again. I will be breaking down certain patterns I've witnessed are common with these types of users and how they all relate back to creating a very toxic mindset and environment.