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September 22nd, 2002

The 12-Year-Old Boy Theory

Ladies and gentlemen, there has been something afoot on the Internet in the past year or so that I have distinctly noticed. How much of it can be attributed to my getting older, I’m unsure. But hear me out on this: the Internet’s population of 12-year-old boys, and those who act mentally like 12-year-old boys, has been growing at an alarming rate.

My cases-in-point? I have quite a few. The first is this site right here, The Daily Ping. We love the Ping. The Ping is great, and you should buy a t-shirt. But you’ll notice that there are, on occasion, rather inane comments. They’re generally marked by poor grammar and spelling and, sometimes, rather offensive statements. We recently had a comment in our Home Depot Ping, for instance, calling for all of the employees of said chain to be sexually violated (in more disturbing terms). And there are the ever-present refugees from the Jackass Ping. My theory is that these people do a Google search for something, find a Ping, and thinking they’re anonymous, post a comment. The aura of responsibility just fades away. (Of course, little do they know that we’re fully aware of what’s going on.)

Similarly, I read a few web boards – Mac ones, Chrysler ones, etc. Almost every one has seen a large upswing in the number of younger members. That in and of itself isn’t a big deal, because I really do like it when new people sign up to participate anywhere. But many of these new folks troll, call things “gay”, and generally act like buffoons. Sure, they’re kids – but I’m guessing that the guise of anonymity, again, is working in their favor.

And there’s also just a rather rude vibe going through some sites I read. Blogs, communities, and the like aren’t exempted.

So where does this all come from? I’m not entirely sure, but I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of it stems from the idea of violent and/or offensive things being funny. See all of Comedy Central’s stuff: The Man Show, South Park, etc. These things are targeted at young boys – and men who think like young boys. I don’t lack a sense of humor. But a great deal of what is deemed funny in pop culture is truly offensive and gross, with an occasional disturbing thing thrown in.

Now, imagine being able to be offensive or gross – thinking one is funny – with the bonus of never having to respond to it officially. Heck, you could use your school’s computer lab, find something on Google, post a rude comment… and that’s it. Right?

I’m saddened by all of this, because in part I still think the Internet can do a lot more than it is doing right now. But if it gets overrun with prepubescent participants, we are in for a rather unenjoyable ride.

Posted in Technology

Ken July 3, 2007, 7:13 am

I was a 12-year old when i began posting here, my grammar isnt wonderful, but i hope i am not annoying. I tried to be a positive contribution to the pings, but i look back and most of them were ramblings. Even if i seemed like one of those other kids, my intentions were good. If you want a new jackass ping to laugh at, just make the title a pop culture icon that a lot of 12 year olds would google.

Paul McAleer July 3, 2007, 7:48 pm


Whole-heartedly agree with your comments, however…. “But”; to start not only a sentence but a paragraph, please don’t be overly critical of others’ grammar.

ps I am not twelve, but I can be a pedantic boy!!

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