USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘Internet’
Folk speech
Game

Gamer Terminology

“Yeah, it’s called lagging. When your internet is slow and glitches you can say to the other people online that you are lagging.”

Context: The informant has been playing video games for over 10 years and would consider himself a serious gamer.

Informant Analysis: He noted that he first heard the term lagging when he was in middle school playing Call of Duty. He also said that the term lagging is solely a gaming term that just about every common gamer understands. It is meant to tell the people you are playing with online that you are unable to do something or your screwup in a game was not your fault.

Collector Analysis: Although the informant said that the purpose of the term lagging is to let your friends know your errors are the internet’s fault, I believe it is more than that. Utilizing the term lagging can also be used if you do mess up but can blame something out of your control as the problem. It also is term that signifies to the other gamers that one is part of the group– a regular player. In the gaming world, there is a certain amount of respect for people who are good at particular games. If one is good enough, you can be live streamed for people to watch. At this level, lagging becomes a term that signifies that you are not bad at the game.

Digital
Game
Humor

The Game

“In high school, my friends and I were always playing The Game and messing with each other. Every time you think of The Game, you lose. So the only people always winning the game are the people who have never heard of it. I think that we liked the irony and parodoxical nature of The Game. Also, school was really boring and The Game never stops. It’s endless entertainment. Except it’s also so infuriating. Most of the time when you’re actively playing The Game, you’re just trying to remind your friends that it exists to make them lose. It’s a game you play for other people as much as yourself.”

Context: The informant went to high school in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania and graduated in 2010. He learned this game online.

Interpretation: This game illustrates the idea that “ignorance is bliss.” The most successful players are those who do not know they are playing. It is also deeply ingrained in Internet culture, and is an excellent representation of the principle that people on the Internet do things “for the Lulz” alone rather than for some greater purpose. The goal of this game is to annoy one’s friends as much as it is to keep oneself from losing. Furthermore, it is an example of how games that start or spread mainly online can make their way into everyday life in-person.

 

Digital

Rickrolling

The particular details and background of the following prank were introduced to me by a fellow student majoring in computer science.

 

The prank in question takes place on internet video platforms, most commonly YouTube, where viewers are led to believe they are accessing entirely unrelated material and instead are met with the surprise appearance of the music video for Rick Astley’s 1987 song ‘Never Gonna Give You Up.’ Having been performed so many times as to have earned its own name, the prank has come to be known as ‘rickrolling,’ a reference to Astley’s name.

 

Although I was previously familiar with the prank’s ubiquity, having been ‘rickrolled’ myself a number of times prior, its intentional nonsensicality was not apparent until being explained.

 

As a prank that exists in a simple digital form and relies entirely on taking advantage of the internet’s functions, ‘rickrolling’ is a definitive example of the relationship between perpetrator and victim when pranks are performed over the internet. In real life, there requires some kind of physical interaction to be pranked, but on the internet, there remains complete anonymity. The victim will likely never have any idea who ‘rickrolled’ them, and given the nonexistent physical consequences of the prank itself, will not have any incentive to find out themselves.

 

See More:

A transformative step for this prank occurred as that of a marketing tool in the leadup to the release of the second season of HBO’s television program Westworld. The creators of the show, known for its complicated narrative and plot twists, formally announced they would release a video revealing a comprehensive guide to every narrative step of the show in advance, effectively spoiling every surprise the season held before airing.

 

Because much of the show’s popularity derives from trying to guess and anticipate each of these twists, critics and viewers alike contentiously debated this unprecedented decision that would undermine the effectiveness of a highly anticipated release and seemed to reflect an unsettling ignorance (on the creator’s parts) of the show’s major appeal.

 

When the aforementioned spoiler guide was released onto the video platform YouTube, viewers were treated to the sight of the program’s lead actress singing a piano cover of Rick Astley’s ‘Never Gonna Give You Up,’ a nod to the traditional practice of ‘rickrolling’ and a solid indication that the entire announcement was a prank itself.

 

It is worth noting that even this sly and cleverly-angled marketing strategy relied on an unexpected narrative twist (although created in real life, impressively), just as the show itself relies on such methods to keep viewers engaged.

Game

Staying Close Through Minecraft

Informant:

Dina is a college freshman from Northern California, she comes from a large yet close knit Italian family.

Piece:

My brothers and I love to play all types of games. Like board games and video games and just all types of games. I mostly like board games, but those are way too hard for us to play since we are all at college and away from each other for so long each year. So to make up for that we play video games with each other online. They like to play league of legends, but I don’t like that game at all. But we all play Minecraft together and built this house together on Minecraft and it’s super cute. And we built it to be the same layout as our house so that even when we are in all different places we can be at home together.

Collector’s thoughts:

This is a great example of how the internet has allowed people to stay close to each other despite long distances. The informant’s ability to stay close with her family is completely dependent on the internet which links them up via a game.

 

 

Legends

Squidward’s Suicide

Squidward’s Suicide is an urban legend surrounding the Nickelodeon children’s television show, Spongebob Squarepants (referencing the character “Squidward”).


 

BA: So, the story goes, that there was an intern at Nickelodeon; I think he just started working there, and he was really excited about it, I guess. And during one of the episodes, when they’re watching the..I think it was the final cut before air, I guess… And they were looking at the timestamps, and they saw it was edited only a few seconds before they watched it–basically the times of them editing it didn’t match up, and they realized. So, it starts out kind of normal, but something’s off: the eyes of all the characters are hyperreal–like not real, but not exactly CGI. But that’s, “that’s whatever”. SO they keep watching, and it’s an episode where Squidward has a performance (Squidward is a musician). He really f***** it up, it was really bad. But the booing was really intense, it was very unsettling.

Do you know if that was intended by the animators, or if that part just showed up?

BA: Oh, no no no, it was not intentional. The part where the eyes were hypperreal, that was not supposed to happen. The part where the booing was really unsettling, that was not supposed to happen. But, whatever, it happens. So, he’s in his house. And he’s sobbing. Sobbing uncontrollably. Then those sobs turn to screeches, and again, very unsettling–oh, it’s something like… there’s a noise that happens, that doesn’t sound like speaker noise, if that makes sense. So, the animators hear that and they’re like “so, this is super weird”. And I guess the creepiest part is that there are frames that are intercut into the episode of, like, dead children, who are completely maimed with their eyes falling out. And it looks like a crime scene, except there’s no tape or chalk, so it looks like whoever did it took those pictures. And they played it back, and they could see the kid move between frames, and they could tell he was still alive. Then, at the end of the episode, Squidward kills himself, and we don’t know where all the changes to the editing came in.


 

There are several variations to this story: In some versions, the episode was sent on a disk from the serial killer in Scotland to Nickelodeon, where an intern played it and later gave it to higher-ups for investigation by law enforcement. There’s also a version where the disk was made by a disgruntled ex-employee of Nickeoleon looking for revenge by broadcasting images of murdered children on a children’s network. Either way, this legend has circulated on the internet and even inspired some animators to recreate the episode based off the legend, then post those images to falsely prove that the legend is real.

Game
general

Polybius

Polybius is an urban legend videogame–meaning a video game that is only rumored to have existed.


 

What’s Polybius?

BA: Polybius is a video game, supposedly made by SEGA, that caused the kids to play it to have seizures. They say there’s only been one Polybius cabinet–this was the 80s, when games were in cabinets in arcades, like Pac Man and Asteroids and stuff…and this cabinet was in Portland.

Why was there only one cabinet?

BA: There was only one cabinet, because that’s how they tested the game before release. It was a big game by a big company, and it used new graphics technology, so they just secretly tested it under a fake name…if the game passed testing, it wouldn’t be called “Polybius”. But… the kids who played it got addicted to it and had seizures. People reported seeing men in suits watching them play, and some say it was the United States government watching to see the effect of the game, to somehow use it as a weapon. Anyway, they scrapped the game and hid it from the records once the kids had seizures, so they couldn’t get any bad press, so nobody’s heard of it since.


 

The mystery of Polybius originated on the internet in discussion boards in 1998. It’s since snowballed to a huge essential question: “Is Polybius real or fake?”. Some claim that it is a fabricated story based on the overwhelmingly negative reception of the early testing stages of Tempest, while others claim to have been part of the developer team responsible for the game.

There are some slight references to Polybius in popular culture, such as a background joke in The Simpsons and the plot of a long-cancelled G4 series, Blister

Customs
Digital
Humor

“Swatting” on the Internet

Swatting is the act of pulling a prank on another by falsely reporting serious threats such as incidences of domestic violence, shootings, and hostage situations to the police. Using altered caller IDs and voice modification devices to conceal their identity, these pranksters use these terrifying threats to mobilize police forces into entering the homes of and arresting the chosen victims.

The term “swatting” was coined by the FBI in 2008, when the phenomenon began gaining serious popularity. Typically, this prank is pulled within the online gaming community while gamers are using Twitch, a website used to livestream a gamer’s playthrough of a game to the entire world. Because these livestreams can be so popular, it has become customary to swat a gamer while he or she is using a digital camera to stream his/her face. This way, thousands of people around the world can watch as a person is aggressively arrested and charged for a horrible crime. Often, the videos recorded from these events are posted onto YouTube, where many who find the prank amusing decide to participate in it themselves.

The informant, Ian, is a 21-year-old university student who considers himself a gamer and internet enthusiast. He knew a victim of this prank in high school, and has since maintained interest in the internet phenomena. While Ian considers the act terrible, he is still fascinated by the immorality of those who partake in it. Although he sees the activity as an awful internet trend, he watches videos of it because he is intrigued by the violence surrounding it.

As someone who has grown up with the internet as its culture has become more advanced and developed, it is quite interesting to see how dark some of its aspects have become. Although the internet can be very personal, the popularity of this activity is likely a result of the lack of face to face contact between those interacting on it. When a prankster cannot physically see the long-term consequences of his or her actions, it becomes easier to commit to the act. This is probably why so many have swatted others.

More information concerning this subject can be found here: http://www.complex.com/life/2016/02/swatting-is-proof-that-the-internet-sucks-as-much-as-you-thought

Mench, Chris. “What Is Swatting, and What Does It Tell Us About the Internet’s Worst Qualities?” Complex.com. Complex, 25 Feb. 2016. Web. 25 Apr. 2016.

Examples of this phenomenon can be seen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TiW-BVPCbZk

CrowbCat. “10 Streamers Get Swatted Live.” YouTube. YouTube, 22 Oct. 2014. Web. 25 Apr. 2016.

Digital
Humor

Getting “Rick Rolled”

On sites like YouTube, it has been customary to “Rick Roll” someone who is looking for specific content/video. Often, when someone is searching for something of interest online, it is common to click on a seemingly relevant link to instead find the music video for Rick Astley’s 1987 song “Never Gonna Give You Up” playing. Even though this prank is harmless, it tends to be incredibly frustrating for its victims, as they are left feeling deceived and without whatever it is they were looking for. For the pranksters who are uploading these videos intentionally, this prank is quite entertaining because it allows them to feel that they have tricked a complete stranger.

The informant, Ian, is a 21-year-old university student who considers himself a gamer and internet enthusiast. He was first introduced to this phenomenon in the 9th grade after attempting to find a video he had been looking for on YouTube. He admits that while it can be frustrating to fall victim to it, it is still highly entertaining because it is so unexpected. He also enjoys how silly the video seems compared to today’s music videos. To him, the trend is interesting because it represents the randomness of and complete lack of control over the internet.

This phenomenon is fascinating because of its unpredictable nature. In American society, people tend to value completely understanding their actions and being able to predict their consequences. It is because of this that these videos are so disconcerting. We are so used to being able to easily find what we are looking for that it is genuinely surprising when something completely irrelevant shows up instead.

The relevant video can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oHg5SJYRHA0

Contagious
Digital
Magic
Protection

Chain Emails

Chain emails are emails that are sent to several recipients so that more people eventually receive the message. They appear while individuals are checking their inboxes. Often, these emails contain messages contain requests asking recipients to forward the email to others. These can manifest in many ways. For example, one may offer a funny joke and ask that it be shared with the recipient’s friends. Others threaten recipients with bad luck unless they share the story included with someone else. Some may even offer monetary rewards in return for passing the email along.

The informant, Ian, is a 21-year-old university student who considers himself a gamer and internet enthusiast. Ian initially received one of these emails soon after creating his first email account while in middle school. He feels that most of these emails are frustrating scams, since they often ask for private information and the email addresses of others so that the senders can have more victims to spam. He was taught this idea by his parents, who had been using email accounts for much longer than he had. Over time, Ian has programmed the junk inbox in his email account to detect and delete these messages, since they are impossible to predict and completely avoid.

This phenomenon is fascinating because it represents a negative aspect of the internet that we have become accustomed to. Because so many of us have come to expect these emails, we have learned to simply accept them as an unavoidable nuisance, even though the true intentions of the senders can be quite nefarious in nature. The internet is not that old, so it is interesting to see that so many have accepted its unpleasant features without attacking their sources head on in order to end them.

Examples of Email Chains can be seen here: http://www.units.miamioh.edu/psybersite/cyberspace/folklore/examples.shtml

Imler, Dan, Ben Nagy, TaraLyn Riordan, and Asmeret Tekeste-Green. “Examples of Chain Letters.” Folklore and the Internet. Miami University, 11 Mar. 2014. Web. 24 Apr. 2016.

Digital
Folk speech
Humor
Signs

The “Trollface”

The “trollface” is a popular image that can be found online. It is meant to represent the face an internet “troll”, or prankster, makes after playing a prank on another. The image often appears on an online discussion when an individual intentionally interrupts the flow of the conversation by mischievously misdirecting the original poster. The image usually follows one of these situations, indicating that a trick has been pulled. Sometimes, the image includes intentionally misspelled words or grammatical errors in order to frustrate readers even more. Because of the negative connotation surrounding it, the image can be frustrating for those who had been taking the conversation seriously.

The informant, Ian, is a 21-year-old university student who considers himself a gamer and internet enthusiast. The image has a special place in his heart, as it is one of the first internet memes that he encountered in his younger years. He learned about the image after seeing it posted in the popular comedy website ebaumsworld.com, where many similar humorous images and videos are posted. For Ian, this image in particular is entertaining because it represents the triviality of the many arguments that internet posters have. He argues that after coming across so many useless and childish arguments that people on the internet have, it is refreshing to see someone mess with them with a quick joke and the posting of the image.

What is interesting about this image is the fact a simple image that used to be insignificant has gathered much connotation and meaning. Even though the image was posted by a single individual, thousands of people came together online to assign a definition and purpose to it. Because of this, the image should be considered a strong indicator of the collaborative nature of the internet.

 

trollface

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