There are the laws of the Internet we’re all familiar with: Rule 34, and its accompanying Rule 35, Godwin’s Law, the GIFT. These are laws we all know. But there are obscurer laws, no less important, that also drive the Internet. Here are five of them.
The law: “It is impossible to create a parody of fundamentalism that will not be mistaken for the real thing.”
We chose this image for a specific reason, and not because that screaming Hillary photo is now and will always be hilarious. We chose it because it comes from the website Christwire.org
Christwire.org is probably the most objective example of Poe’s Law in action that you’ll find. In fact it’s what the site thrives on. They write something ridiculously over the top and outrageous (a few samples on their page: “Can Opossums Save Medicare?” “Charlie Sheen Fired, World of Warcraft To Blame”, “Chinese Reveal Asian Sun, Evil Plan Moves Forward”), post it on the site and those who have finally gotten the memo that Christwire is a satire of over the top fundamentalist Christian news sites, which are, believe it or not, equally as insane, have a good chuckle.
Those not in on the fact that it’s a satire, despite the fact that “christwire satire” is literally right there in Google as a suggested search, post it to show how outrageous and insane fundamentalist Christians are. The majority of their traffic is people who don’t get the joke showing up to flame them.
Hey, they sell ads.
The law: “If you have to insist you’ve won an argument on the Internet, you have lost, and probably badly.”
This is also known as the “you have fallen into my rhetorical trap” argument, wherein somebody says something patently stupid to you and you bulldoze them solely by pointing out obvious facts a fifth grader knows. You know, like every single argument on Facebook about politics, found underneath even the most mildly political article.
The name comes from infamous (to RPG.net users) forum poster Danth, who had this as a favorite tactic. It’s also called Parker’s Law.
Following Danth’s Law is a particular favorite of people who run forums and are chronically unable to win arguments. See for example Tim Buckley and the Ctrl-Alt-Del forums, notorious for banning users that disagree with the Buckley regime on anything, Scott Kurtz and PvP’s nearly monthly forum wipes for precisely the same reasons, and, of course, the ultimate example: Andrew Schafly, of Conservapedia, and his sad attempt to refute the work of Richard Lenski.
In short, sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. Unless it’s the Game, which you always lose. Which reminds us…
The law: “A meme’s probability of crossing into the mainstream is in inverse proportion to how quickly it gets irritating.”
Hey, remember the Rickroll? When people kept telling you a link was one thing, like people saying “Noooooo!”, but it was really Rick Astley?
The Internet got tired of it fairly quickly, of course, but it just…wouldn’t…die. It grew, and it grew, and it grew until it came to the Macy’s Day Parade and turned “rickroll” into a term for just hearing a Rick Astley song, which until then had just been ’80s music wallpaper nobody had noticed before.
Nobody knows why it grew. People wish they did. But it just somehow touched a nerve, deep inside normal people who aren’t on the Internet all day, much to the irritation of the rest of us.
Astley’s Law is rarely invoked, as memes grow and die faster than mayflies and most of them appeal to subsets of nerds that other nerds barely know exist. But when it’s invoked, it’s invoked with a vengeance, and reference rocket to over nine…
The law: “A person’s mind can be changed by reading information on the Internet. The nature of the change is from having no opinion to having a wrong opinion.”
OK, so it’s a little cynical, but it’s painfully true. The Internet is, of course, rife with all sorts of false information. And a lot of it seems true because it appeals to your beliefs. But, of course, as a complex Internet user, you’d never…
Wait, how many views does “Loose Change” have again? Five million?
The law: “Any post correcting an error will have at least one error itself.”
Otherwise known as the Grammar Nazi’s Plague and the Troll’s Joy, Skitt’s law is as inevitable as an aging rock star misunderstanding the Internet and freaking out over 4Chan. Or perhaps it’s just the way some higher force, be it a spiritual one or our own minds, keeping us humble.
Either way, it’s gonna happen. It’s happened to you, it’s happened to me, it’s happened to everyone: you’re going to see a glaring error, try to correct it, and in the course of doing so, royally screw up. It can be done subtly, as a joke, but it also reveals the limits of in-jokes. Go ahead, click on the link and try to stay awake as they discuss plural Latin and the like.
Then I’ll wake you up by telling you that the next slide is about the new law I’ve created, Seitz’s Law of Kitten Abuse.
The law: “Misleading jokes about animal abuse are almost as shameless traffic bait as posting pictures of cute, fuzzy kittens.”
Remember, everyone: obey the laws of the Internet or…
Wait, there are no Internet police. Awesome. Who wants to see the creepy furry Facebook sex I found while putting together this month’s top ten Facebook fails?
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