I have decided to begin a series of posts detailing some of the major subcultures of the Internet. Many of them overlap, as the Internet is a place without any actual borders, but each subculture has its own behaviors and distinct set of rules. In addition, as each subculture depends on the Internet for their existence, each one is threatened equally by any sort of attempt to control the Internet. However, their responses to a threat differ greatly.
This post is an introduction to some of the groups I will discuss, although most likely there will be more than just these few.
Gamers: Gamers are, obviously, the people who use the Internet and computers primarily for games. Examples of gaming communities include Steam and the “gaming” subreddit. This group is the most reluctant to address the threats to the freedom of the internet, and will not unless their gaming life is directly threatened.
Programmers: Closely related to Gamers and Hackers, Programmers include those who create games, operating systems, and other programs. Programmers are the most knowledgeable of the internet and how it works, along with Hackers, but their efforts are mostly focused on creation, while Hackers focus on infiltration and modification of programs. The welfare of Programmers is at greatest risk if the Internet is threatened, because a restriction on the freedom of the Internet restricts their capabilities and could affect their career. Programmers and Hackers are the first to recognize a threat to the Internet, and can understand the full implications of the threat.
Hackers: The group most stereotypically seen as a danger to the IRL (In Real Life) world. This group includes online political activist groups such as Anonymous, as well as the other, less well-known groups which work in secrecy. Hackers focus on working around the rules of the Internet, searching for loopholes or opportunities for profit, which they then take advantage of. Hackers are the most active in response to a threat to the Internet, taking action by fighting back online.
The Covert: The actual greatest danger to the IRL world, this group contains the users who browse the Internet using secure, untraceable connections, using the Darknet and networks such as TOR to explore sites which are not reachable by google or other search engines. A number of these sites contain illegal content, such as child pornography. There can also be found websites where one can purchase illegal goods, such as drugs or pirated media. The users of the Darknet are the most difficult to stereotype, because of the security and anonymity they surround themselves with. Their response to a threat to the Internet is usually either in secret or through the actual identities of these users, usually in another subculture.
Posters: The most interdependent of the groups, Posters use boards such as reddit, tumblr, and blogs to create discussions and communities. This group is the most prolific, as an enormous amount of information is posted every day, and as a result the most difficult to keep up with. Posters usually specialize to a specific messageboard or forum. Posters work with Trolls to initiate a discussion of any threat to the Internet, allowing other Users to be educated about the threat.
Trolls: This group is identified as the users who trick other users or purposefully annoy them. Creations of this group include the Rick-roll, the “trollface”, and prank websites. Although his group is often despised because of its disruption of organization, it is nevertheless a great influence on the Internet as a whole. Trolls would respond to a threat to the Internet by reverse psychology, acting like a radical supporter of the threat and inciting argument by posting as the “devil’s advocate”, letting the Posters create a discussion of the threat and the way to oppose it.
The Passives: The group most often overlooked, this is perhaps the largest and potentially the most powerful group. Every other group depends on this group, the masses of casual Internet users, to use the internet and “vote” with their views on a page. In the case of a threat, the goal is to “mobilize” the Passives and create a mob which has the power of numbers to eradicate the threat.