Internet For Assholes
This week: Chatting for Assholes

What is the sound of one hand typing? Cybersex! And as the online extension of a sensitive and personal area of someone's life -- it's the perfect arena for being an asshole.

See also...
... by Lou Cabron
... in the Whoa! section
... from October 27, 1999

Cybersex consists of lurking in a two-person chat room while someone on the other end of the Net types amateur erotica that they're making up as they go along. Usually, there's a back and forth to this process, with each party typing in smut to arouse the other. "iwould put my hands on yur body," a typical session might begin -- and on and on, with pointless descriptions of hypothetical night moves. Losers hope this exchange of sexual fantasies will progress to an exchange of phone numbers so they can listen to someone recite amateur erotica that they're making up as they go along.

You can have all kinds of fun by simply saving the text of these cybersex chat sessions -- and then posting it on your Web page. Let everyone see your online one-night-stand's lame idea of a romantic text-based date. Be sure to add your own embarrassing comments. ("Watch how this loser tries to impress me without the benefit of upper-case letters.")

It's mean, cruel, a violation of trust -- and lots of fun!

It's easy to find losers hunting for cybersex. They're the ones prowling around chat rooms typing whiny, agonized pleas for someone they can send dirty messages. Most Internet services include a feature that lets the user send private steamy messages to another user instead of having the text appear in the chat room, where everyone can read it. This is where you, the asshole, come in. Convince a first-timer that the way to send someone a private, one-to-one, cybersex message is to precede it with a "special command," in reality just nonsense text such as ".msg"

In fact, this will just display whatever the person has typed to the entire chat room -- preceded by the nonsensical ".msg" text. But they'll think they're sending a private message.

Sure, they'll eventually wise up. But you'll get the thrill of reading their first humiliating sentence.

.msg I've always found urine incredibly sexy.
.msg I'm looking for a woman who *appreciates* my small penis.
.msg Do me up the ass like the doggy I am.

If everyone in the room is in on your prank, there's no limit to how long you can string along your gullible chat-room Lothario!

But don't forget the simple recipe for added fun.

  1. Keep a transcript
  2. Post it online.

The .msg prank is a variation on an old online classic, a practical joke involving the "Caps Lock" virus. An Internet tradition holds that using only capital letters when typing text into a chat room is rude; it's the online equivalent of shouting.

So just when jittery chatting newbies master this primary tenet of Netiquette, pranksters have found a way to turn that pride against them. Everybody else in the chat room types in nothing but capital letters -- then they advise the newbie that his computer must be broken. Is it displaying lowercase letters as uppercase letters, they'll ask? Ah... of course, the asshole answers. It must have a virus. The "Caps Lock" virus.

You'd be surprised how plausible this can be to a new user. One pair of Netizens cleverly baited the hook by adding the following lines to their chat room prank.

caps are like this. it's annoying

It was enough to trick their intended target into thinking that, sure enough, his computer had been infected with the dreaded case-switching virus. The pranksters improvised a series of suggestions on how to eliminate the problem -- until the dupe realized the inherent flaw in accepting free technical support from strangers on the Internet.

With all the pornography on the Internet, why would people even settle for plain text? Well, it started in the pre-Web days -- when dirty pictures took longer to download and pornography on the Internet wasn't as well organized. Just as adult videotapes drove people to adopt VCRs, cybersex was the major engine of Internet commerce. Back when commercial online services charged $3.50 an hour, cybersex addicts funded the onslaught of promotional floppy disks that allowed these services to grow. To this day, some critics refer to AOL as "the house that chat built."

Next time you get a promotional floppy disk in the mail, remember: It was paid for by somebody wanking off.

But as you pity the poor saps having cybersex, remember: Real life sex may not be any better. One Web site has compiled a list of "bad sex" stories. ("Everything was fine until he began to climax, at which part he started shouting 'Who's the man! Who's the man! Who's the man!'")

The site's motive appears to be discouraging people from ever having sex again. Looks like for many people, the choices are cybersex, bad sex, or no sex at all.

Some cybersex tricks are so obvious, they're barely worth mentioning. There are probably several hundred thousand people who have masqueraded as members of the opposite sex in online chat rooms (I know I have), which illustrates the low quality of most online chat to begin with. A man named Jesse Kornbluth once complained that ordinary chat rooms "bored me silly" with "dialogue that made ham radio compelling in comparison."

Kornbluth turned to a life of deception -- messing with the heads of AOL chat-room kings such as "BigStick" -- by adopting the female persona "MsTerious." Just when things started getting steamy, MsTerious would bring in an online acquaintance at the last minute to play the part of a jealous lesbian. ("We were lovers. But Jane has been drinking and drugging all summer, so I moved out..."). In a cloying online essay about how clever he'd been, Kornbluth gloated that it was a lesson about enjoying the moment. But some eyewitnesses to his prank disagree. "Boy, did I see this coming a mile off," BigStick is quoted as saying.

A humorous footnote: Today, Jesse Kornbluth is editorial director of AOL channel programming.

See also:
Skepticism for Assholes
Voting Fraud for Assholes
Spamming for Assholes
Disposable Identities for Assholes
Anonymity for Assholes
Stalking for Assholes
Religion for Assholes
Death for Assholes
eBay for Assholes
Portals and Personal Ads for Assholes
Newsgroups for Assholes

Lou Cabron is GettingIt's resident asshole.

Internet for Assholes runs each Wednesday on GettingIt.