There is a peculiar affliction raging through the internet. It has been incubating for some time. In fact, I have seen outbreaks since the dawn of the Web, but I have never seen it as bad as this.
I’m sure you have seen manifestations of this disease — we have all seen it — but I believe I am the first to give it a name. I call it “internet balls”.
Internet balls afflicts mainly males starting from early adolescence and continues until near retirement age, presumably when testosterone production begins to wane. Its base cause is the anonymity that the internet provides. The primary symptom is the testicles swell from Raisinets to cantaloupes whenever the afflicted person logs on to an internet forum.
This disease causes a normally meek person to become aggressive and belligerent. Adolescents who are normally sullen and reticent suddenly gain the ability to spout nonstop streams of profanity and insults. Older sufferers suddenly become experts on current events and are convinced that everyone of a different opinion must be a moron.
Unfortunately the disease is highly contagious. We saw evidence of this with the early internet phenomenon called “flame wars”. Here, a patient zero, often called a “troll”, would seed a banal conversation with insults. Patient zero instantly infected the other forum users who would respond with insults of their own. The conversation rapidly degenerated into curses against “yo momma” with racial and homophobic overtones.
In advanced cases, internet balls can spill over into reality, in the form of bumper stickers and Tea Party rallies. People who are normally friendly and reasonable become xenophobic and mule-headed when placed in groups of other people with like opinions.
Treatment options are limited, but effective. The simplest option is for afflicted persons to act online the same way they act in real life. The second option is for them to unplug their computers from the internet so they won’t be tempted to turn into assholes.
It also seems likely that the symptoms of internet balls could be alleviated or eliminated through the use of medical marijuana.