Chris-Chan, the Internet’s Final Boss, has (allegedly) inappropriately engaged with his own elderly mother. Yes, I’m sorry, that’s a really gross thing I just typed. Even if you don’t know who he is, most of the internet is rightly flabbergasted at this news. But not me. I’m sorry, again. I’ve anticipated Chris-Chan’s inevitable decline for years now, even if I didn’t think it would end up at this level of internet weirdo. And if I told you how many details I know about this random person’s life, you’d probably call me a weirdo, too.

Chris is one of the many Internet Oddities I’ve followed on and off in my time. It always fascinated me to witness a person who puts so much out online. They become both aware and unaware of who they are as a person, even with a willingly-released a documentation of their lives. Their waking lives have become impossible to navigate without mentioning the internet, that it essentially creates a new kind of human. The extremely online person. A living meme. And in a world that loves to people-watch, they become a welcome respite from our own boring lives.

While some of these people are largely harmless, they can also become an instruction manual of what not to do. Their actions are so despicable that it’s hard to feel sorry for any plight that may befall them. I’ll admit to taking glee in misfortune over the years, and have even participated in openly jeering and mocking. It’s entirely possible that I’ve contributed further to these people’s inevitable decline. I’ve wised up about this behavior over time and I’m satisfied with just being a silent watcher as of now. I have to let people make the choices they make, while scratching my head as to why they do what they do. But it’s always a tragedy when someone, by his or her own admission, makes choices that end in complete and total degeneracy. The worst kinds of choices a human can make. And these are people we have no choice but to share a planet with.

It’s all sort of surprising how none of it surprises me one bit. There’s something fascinating about about the most grim aspects of humanity. It’s why the true crime genre is so popular online. People choose to pause their day and bear witness to the most deranged individuals to have ever walked this earth. To see someone violate another person with such force, such messed-up motives, and think they’ll get away with it is a terrifying look into a broken psychology. The ultimate What Not to Do list. And there’s new crops of content popping up every day. With this breaking news out of CWCville, it looks like the world of The Internet has slowly but surely slipped its way into The Mainstream’s cracks. 

As far back as I can remember, I’ve always been interested in internet culture. I wanted to be the coolest kid on the block. The one everyone comes to when they’ve got a problem, or they just wanna laugh. I have found moderate success as an internet entity over the years. When compared to any of the millions of other content creators we have to choose from, my accomplishments may seem small and insignificant. But there’s no denying that being an internet person has helped shape a part of who I am in real life.

A story on FanFiction.net I wrote back in the early 2000’s was easily the most popular one in the Zelda section. It was my favorite video game series at the time. I was adding to it for at least two years. Chapter by silly chapter, people couldn’t wait to see what I would write about next, what wacky scenario I could think of that involved me and my buddies. I called it, What the Zelda Characters Do with Their Free Time. WTZCDWTFT for short. People loved it. They always got a kick out of it. At least all those comments told me so. It had, at the time, the most likes and comments out of any other story. At least as far as what I could see. While it didn’t start with me as a character, I eventually inserted myself into the plot. I’d follow Link, Zelda, Gannondorf (G-dorf for short), and all the others to places like the pool, a barbecue, a Yankees game, a Broadway audition; There wasn’t a limit to where the story would go, because I couldn’t stop coming up with all these ideas. It felt good knowing people were interested in me and following and wanting to hear what I’d have to say.

Then, one day, the story disappeared. I visited the site one morning to check on how last night’s chapter was doing, only to find the entire thing gone. Fanfiction.net had changed its algorithm without my knowledge and in an instant, I had no story to add to. Turns out the screenplay format was no longer allowed. Which is still a valid form of storytelling if you think about it. But they’re a private company. They can do what they want. I can’t tell you I wasn’t devastated by the news, though. I hadn’t backed anything up. I even ran and told my mother, as if she could call them and demand to reinstate my story. Alas, there was nothing I could do, and many of these stories have unfortunately been lost to time. 

I tried to rewrite and reupload, building back what followers I had so I could once again see a massive comment section. I needed the confidence booster. People were telling me they loved me day after day, saying my writing was the best thing they’ve ever read and that I was the funniest person on the planet. Sure, there were “flames” comments here and there, which were the only ones I’d reply to, funnily enough. And one day all of that validation was gone. No matter what happened from there on out, it would never be the same. My time on that site was coming to an end, even though I didn’t feel like it was my fault. The only thing I was really known for was eliminated, and there wasn’t a goddamn thing I could do about it.

So I left. I went elsewhere. I found YouTube and had some successes there. I take credit for being one of the first female voices in what’s now known as the Commentary Community. I bet if you asked any of these current big-time YouTubers, they wouldn’t even remember my channel name. That’s fine. I have no qualms about that. YouTube was fun and gave me a solid following, just what I wanted to happen. I made videos for years, and felt like they were having an impact. However, I did run out on my channel when I ran out of things to say, essentially killing my own momentum. And the key to longevity is consistency, no matter how one-note it can sometimes feel.

I eventually tried to make a big comeback, bouncing off what viewers had stuck around over the years. But it was never the same. I’d lose subscribers after each and every upload, as people lost interest in what I was doing. But it was all okay. My time on that site was up too. I’ll still post content even today if and when the mood strikes me, but it’s few and far between. I don’t think anyone really expects it out of me, either. My online popularity has become less of a priority over the years, and now it’s just about having fun online. Me and my crew. The ones I’ve hung out with all this time. No matter how and when they found me, they’re the ones I want to stick with. It’s a good group. It’s just what I wanted out of all this online life. It’s been such a diverse and interesting ride in getting to know people from all over the map and I wouldn’t have it any other way. And I haven’t even told you about the time I was the “face” of a wildly popular mid-2000’s internet forum. But I’d need far more webpages to tell you about that story.

All this illustrates is the alluring pull of internet culture. There’s always pockets of success one can latch on to, finding independent communities here and there that revolve around one person. Having been that person at some points, I know that you’ll sometimes push yourself in order to get more of that attention, especially if you are not receiving it elsewhere. Chris-Chan, and the internet oddities like him, have been so intertwined with the online world that they’ll have to go to absurd lengths to keep the focus squarely on them. And when one’s only form of validation comes from a space where absolutely nothing is off-limits, it’s bound to have a psychological impact that can affect their outside life.

I’ve often said that anything is possible in 2021. This world seems cruel and unfair as of late. Like some faceless group is trying to destroy everything we know and love because they’re threatened by our idea of freedom. The internet provides a space to toss thoughts out that can in fact help fight this virus, even if it means playing inside the lion’s den. You can say whatever you want to the internet as long as you stick to your guns and be true and honest about it. But we’ve got to remember that the playing field is open to all, which can really bring the weirdos right out of the woodwork. Sometimes I feel like we need to see these people first-hand, and acknowledge we share the same planet as them, no matter how much revulsion they make us feel on the surface. At our most basic form, we’re all just humans trying to live upon this earth, even those who decide to make immoral choices over righteous ones. It should be left at that. The incorrect should not be praised or encouraged. Let the law take care of it when it needs to step in, instead of turning toward the anonymous group to act as judge, jury, and executioner.

The online space needs to regroup and rethink its own moral code again. Things could potentially get a lot worse if Big Government keeps linking arms with Big Tech. Anything can slip through the cracks, even more shocking than the Chris-Chan news. I hope that when you did net your online following, you’ve found those who’ll have your back, even if it means telling you the hard truths you really need to hear. If you invite enabling, that’s all you’re going to get. Bring more of the right choices into your life, no matter what you might want to do to make yourself feel good. The real life consequences may never be the same if you cleave onto the worst parts of humanity. The internet is a great facilitator of all things rotten, and not so much the reverse. But things can change if we’re willing to raise our own moral bars first.

We have to deal with real life once we close our laptops anyway. There’s no delete button in the outside world. May as well get as close to perfect as humanly possible every chance we get. Trust me on this. I know stuff. I’m from the internet after all.

One thought on “closing the book on a life lived online

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s