“There are no girls on the internet” is one of the “rules of the internet” of the olden times. It was a tongue-in-cheek saying that meant two things. The first interpretation is that women don’t...
“There are no girls on the internet” is one of the “rules of the internet” of the olden times. It was a tongue-in-cheek saying that meant two things. The first interpretation is that women don’t hang out on online forums because only loser guys do that. This obviously wasn’t totally true, but it felt true because of the second interpretation: gender doesn’t really exist on the internet, or at least it didn’t back then. Someone posting on IRC or 4Chan could be male, female, black, white, or any combination or race or gender, but you wouldn’t know that. Your post just existed in a void, completely separate from your social identity. While sexism and racism existed, someone wouldn’t be discriminated against on those grounds, because on the internet there are no girls. Only people.
People who brought up their gender were accused of being attention seekers who couldn’t get by on their own merits. This was probably just a shitty excuse to justify harassment (ie tits or gtfo), but there might have been some truth to the idea that your gender and race have no effect on the legitimacy of your opinion.
Today on the internet, a the “rule” “there are no girls on the internet” is completely done away with. Not only is the social makeup of the internet much more diverse today, all of the major networking sites have profiles on which you can proudly display your gender, race, sexuality, etc.
I only just now came to realize this difference as I was reading some threads that posted statements like “as a gay man” or “as a girl who...”. These kinds of statements used to attract ridicule, but are now accepted as the norm.
I’m not sure if this is an improvement or not. I do think it’s an improvement that harassment is no longer tolerated, but I struggle with the concept that it’s okay to that someone’s race/gender/etc can legitimize a claim, but it is not okay to think that it could deligitimize someone’s claim.
Again, I want to add a disclaimer that I do not think it is or ever was good to harass people, or to discriminate based on identity. I just want to start a conversation about how the internet has changed in this respect, and whether or not online discourse has been hurt by this change.