If you are reading this, you on on the Internet so you know what it’s like. When explaining the Internet to people who don’t use it very often (older relatives, smarmy sea captains, Jehovah Witnesses) it can be difficult to really explain what it’s all about. How do you truly explain Internet Culture? How do you take a place ridden with vital information, social media, memes, discussion boards, shopping, travel, blogs, and total bullshit and smash it into a comprehensive and short blurb so granddad doesn’t get bored and start being racist?
You can’t. It’s pretty impossible. Your official definition, “a global computer network providing a variety of information and communication facilities, consisting of interconnected networks using standardized communication protocols,” doesn’t even cover how coded communication on the Internet even works. I know officially it’s called “Cyberculture,” but I can’t take that term seriously when a) Trump talks about the “Cyberwar” and b) my first introduction to “cyber” anything was a dude telling me he was gonna call the “Cyber Police” on the Internet for bullying his daughter.
All that aside, I want to take a look at how this coded communication functions. And specifically, I want to talk about how men and women function accordingly. Because if you’ve ever been a woman on the Internet, you know how it works and what you’re in for. And if you are not a woman on the Internet and have been blissfully unaware, please take this time to have a seat. Just take a seat, right over here.
Now traditionally, women have been more avid users of social media than men, but the gap is closing faster than the wage gap. Dudes seem to favor things like reddit, Digg, imgur and Slashdot. The last of which I have never even heard of, so obviously I just lost like…so many bro points.
While the prevalence of men and women interacting in the same groups at the same consistency is good news, there are certain interactions that occur that make women cringe. Here are 5 common examples:
1) Twitter and the Insistent Mansplainer
This went viral last year, and frankly, it’s a great description of how 140 characters can sometimes be 140 characters too many for some men who feel the need to religiously explain and explain and explain until they’re blue in the face and very sexually frustrated. Despite the fact that this post was obviously started in jest and ended in hilarity at the dude’s expense, it doesn’t always turn out this way. Post anything about feminism on Twitter and you may have a rash of men in your DMs telling you you’re a stupid slut for thinking you understand what feminism is, saying the phrase “Well, actually…” until they come facts and truth into a crusty sock.
On one hand, explaining something is not exactly mansplaining, especially if the other party in question knows very little on the subject at hand. Mansplaining becomes a thing when the other party obviously knows what they are talking about, can use facts and a well-reasoned argument to demonstrate this fact, and yet are constantly shot down and misunderstood to be a n00b. In the book Men Explain Things to Me, the author (who wrote an essay of the same name in 2008 and essentially coined the term “mansplaining”) remarks of a man she met at a party. They get into a discussion about a topic she in which she is very knowledgeable. By the end of the conversation, the man in question begins to rave about a book on the subject that has been on the New York Times Book Review, fawning over its author in the way people do who have never read the book in their life but want to seem established in the popularity of the thing. The author literally wrote the book, River of Shadows: Eadweard Muybridge and the Technological Wild West.
“So, Mr. Very Important was going on smugly about this book I should have known when Sallie interrupted him to say, “That’s her book.” Or tried to interrupt him anyway.
But he just continued on his way. She had to say “That’s her book” three or four times before he finally took it in. And then, as if in a 19th-century novel, he went ashen.”
While this was a face-to-face encounter in 2003 (when the earliest Internet gold mine I knew about was Neopets, tbh), it illustrates the way a typical call-and-response relationship between women and their very informed explainers. Or really, the call-call-call-call-call….and response.
2) Tinder and Impatience
First, we’ve got the complimentary stage. Doling out compliments about the physical. Then comes the overt sexualization. Then the guilting or mocking. And then just bein’ real shitty. This doesn’t illustrate the long game conversation that happens over an hour, when the woman responds in kind and then drops off for a bit. As is the way with communication over the Internet, it’s not always convenient to say “Hey, I have some stuff to do, I’ll catch you later”. Because if you don’t want to catch them later, you don’t have to. It’s perfectly acceptable to breadcrumb, to give little nuggets of conversation and go about your business. Or really, if you get caught up in some important shit and don’t have to explain yourself to someone you literally just started talking to.
The guilting and impatience is the shittiest part. The given that the woman is beholden to the man’s time is a bit much. Overt sexualization isn’t as bad as this to be honest. I can take someone demeaning me sexually, I can take being objectified. But shit gets shady when you are blamed for misleading when you’re at work, or dropping off for twenty minutes to fold laundry and be a human. When a person uses Tinder, it isn’t like ordering a pizza. You don’t get what you want instantaneously. In no universe must a woman fawn and fall for a man in 30 minutes or less. Nor is the converse true.
3) The Meninist, or #NotAllMen
“Not to hurt your feelings, but he really doesn’t understand your obsession with social media. You are just in two different places in life and he honestly wouldn’t even have Facebook if he could get away from it. Oh, that girl that comments/likes/heart eyes emojis all of his posts and also texts constantly? She’s just a work associate/gym buddy/client.” –Brooke Honeycutt
In an article about the evolution of the “fuckboy”, the author remarks on the way men typified as a “fuckboy” can make a turn away from the classic “bro” manhoe toward a man motivated for the future/self-focused and growing up into a “fuckman”. Essentially, turning a statement into a sweeping satire and moving the commentary forward into more complimentary grounds: ending on a positive note rather than saying “All men are garbage and I hate them”.
But these commenters on her blog post don’t see the direction she’s trying to head toward. They pounce on her in their own different ways for making a “blanket statement” about men, seeing her view as generalizing and speculative while having essentially bypassed the content that mattered most.
And just what the fuck is a vaginal jew anyhow?
Meninists essentially cry “not all men” while purporting every stereotype they apparently don’t possess. They become combative and push against meaning, nitpicking their way through a statement at face value. They are the victimized by feminists and retaliate because women just get soooo much leeway.
They seem to think it’s always men against women. What I see with most communicate from women differs. They may paint men as terrible in jest but the goal as a whole is to be heard, to speak their own truths in a society that already depicts women as the lesser sex. While men seem to jump at the chance to say “No, not me, I’m not like that!” but to what end is this?