The 5 Potential Outcomes of Meeting an ‘Internet Enemy’ IRL


The internet has invented new situations, new emotions, and new difficulties for the Western human race. Or, at least, exacerbated old ones. Take for example the situation of two individuals that have gotten into a festering, bitter argument on some internet forum who subsequently have found themselves, a week later, standing in the same room, at some party. What might be the outcome of this situation? Here are five potential ones.

1. Complete avoidance

The first and perhaps most embarrassing occurrence that may take place in the case that someone on the internet who has shit-talked you – or with whom you’ve had a major close-to-flamewar ‘logic battle’ that culminated in vicious insults and defamation of character so toxic that it was clear to all that you two had an extreme, visceral dislike for one another – happens to be at the very party or gallery opening in which you are currently standing, is that you actually just ‘pussy out’ bigtime, noticing that the person is there but completely avoiding acknowledging his existence. He acts in a similar manner. The reason the both of you act in this egregiously passive and indeed what the large majority of the internet troll community would define as ‘gay’ manner is basically that the two of you are frightened by the prospect of public, IRL confrontation. This is not so when typing in internet forums and in the comments sections of blogs, of course, as one can easily backspace, delete, and edit one’s conversational output at a pace with which they’re comfortable. Moreover, many social conventions and standard codes of behavior are thrown out the door when ‘entering’ the world wide web forum and as such one is much more likely to ‘freak out’ on someone in a way that would be seen by many as ‘completely inappropriate and borderline psychopathic’ in any IRL context, such as, for example, commenting on someone’s blog post something like “This fucking sucks. You’re fucking pathetic. You are a fucking nerd, please don’t procreate because your babies will be incredibly ugly. You fucking suck big fucking donkey balls. Fucking disgusting,” which is not such a rare occurrence on the internet, not at all – but is an extremely rare occurance in IRL (for someone to go up to a stranger and say something like that would definitely be considered ‘insane’).


2. The stare down, then avoidance

Same as “complete avoidance” with the exception of the icy stares you two give each other on occasion, each time making “goddamn” sure to move your faces into positions that create stares so visceral and icily-toned that there in effect can be no question that you know who she is and that you want her to know that you know who she is and that you still think she’s a total idiot for that time she completely misinterpreted Duchamp’s “Fountain” in the comments section of a completely unrelated post on HTMLGIANT and then went on to make this bafflingly retarded comparison of Duchamp with Warhol in the most unseemly freaking display of faux-intellectualism that you’ve ever born witness to in your life. “Enemies. Fucking enemies,” says your bitter stare, despite the fact that you’re too afraid to confront her, or for that matter, even utter one syllable that might be interpreted as directed toward her, and that there are, actually, some relatively basic comparisons one might reasonably make between Duchamp and Warhol.

3. The “Hi _____,” and then cold stares

This one is interesting and perhaps the most uncomfortable of all the situations that are likely to occur – given each party’s worldview, as well as socioeconomic background (sociologists argue) – after one shit talks another or both get in an internet shouting match (what some term ‘bitchfight’) in an online forum about, for example, gadgets, or even better – typefaces (perhaps more specifically – Helvetica). In this situation, the two parties involved, unwilling to ‘back down’ from their points of view, and with the desire to communicate to themselves, each other, and everyone at the IRL meetup that they sincerely mean whatever they say online and that they aren’t passive individuals that say one thing on an internet forum but when IRL comes along ‘bitch out’ and ‘back down’ from their position that Helvetica is a postmodern bullshit font for retards that say they know how to use inDesign but actually know fucking nothing about the program, do not avoid each other, but make it a point to look at each other with brutal facial expressions that reveal the most intense hatred one might might imagine, then smile, evilly, and say “Hi [name].” Both parties in this situation then avoid each other for the rest of the evening, sometimes throwing ‘evil’ glances in each others’ directions, and generally hope the other leaves, so that they can stop having to feel ‘oppressed’ by someone who openly supports/condemns Helvetica.


4. The apology

The apology is the best of possible situations that can occur when two shit-talkers who have in the past talked shit on each other on the internet or engaged in an emphatic and passionate, bitchy argument about the roots of Stoicism in the comments section of a completely unrelated post on the subreddit /r/atheism. In the case of an apology, both internet trolls actually just want things to be ‘chill’ and feel lighthearted and perhaps somewhat inebriated and so directly approach each other inside the apartment of a fellow [internet forum] user and tell each other that they had just gotten fired that day one called the other an idiot for saying that Stoicim was ‘invented’ by Marcus Aurelius, and so he/she was a bit ‘testy’ that day, and it was an understandable error, anyways, kind of (at this juncture, a small, passive rift may be formed if the case is that one party’s body language and facial expressions communicate that “even though I was being a meanie, you’re point was still retarded, you’re still a dumbass”), that one might think Marcus Aurelius was the ‘father’ of Stoicism (“I mean – sure, it’s philosophy 101 but whatever”). Anyways, the whole thing works out in the end, and if the universe is smiling upon that IRL gathering of internet forum comrades, the two previously estranged individuals will side with each other in the next argument, opting to ridiclule another person that is definitely not, and never will be (they feel strongly) ‘part of the club.’

5. The bitter confrontation

A bitter confrontation between two individuals who, for example, think each other are objectively bad for condoning a particular genre of literature, is a pretty rare occurrence, I think, as the Western human typically wishes to avoid confrontation, stress, loud noises and the like. No – it is only when two out-of-control humans (who happen to know how to navigate the internet to the extent that they understand and are indeed part of the internet-based ‘culture’ characterized by attempted point-by-point takedown arguments on subjects such as ‘art’ and ‘politics’ and ‘race,’ and who also happen to feel very strongly about their POVs such that they will emphatically defend them despite any possible virtual, physical and social context) somehow ‘find’ each other and naturally get into a bitter internet argument about the merits of a particular prose style, and then shortly thereafter happen to find themselves at the same social gathering, among a group of mutually shared acquaintances, that the bitter confrontation occurs. It usually starts in an embarrassing display of immaturity (think: that one restaurant scene in There Will Be Blood), in which one party passively, but clearly, antagonizes the other. This leads, of course, to the other party taking offense, and from there it becomes total, cringe-worthy chaos. Occasionally this can lead to blows, but only in the instance of complete inebriation or idiocy.

You should follow Thought Catalog on Twitter here.