A Handy Test for Reddit Users: Are You on the Internet Right Now?

Sometimes it’s hard to tell if you are on the Internet or not. For example you are almost always typing into a box on a series of screens on your computer. Because of this, there are whole sections of the Internet that are pretty sure they are not on the Internet, because, they are just boxes, right? You could be typing into anything, who knows if it’s public. This was true about LiveJournal for a long time. When you would link to a posting on LiveJournal, back in the day, you would get outraged emails about invasion of privacy. Because in their minds, they were just typing in their diary. That happened to be readable by others. Any others. On the Internet. Sometimes the youngs on Tumblr think they are not on the Internet, and also some members of Reddit think they are not on the Internet! And so there is a to-do. If you would like something explanatory about the current “war” between Reddit and Gawker, this is useful.

And so you can have a long history on Reddit, chatting about girls butts, or actually posting secretly-taken pictures of women on a board called “creepshots” for the purpose of hubba-hubbaing about them on the Internet, and hanging around on /jailbait and /incest and all kinds of fun stuff. And then when people complain about those pictures, or take action around it, or decide that creepy dudes who take pictures of women in public and post them on the Internet to get all hubba-hubba should have a little limelight themselves, the only defense is… “but all the public information about me available on the Internet is actually private!” Or as one subredditor — their PARAKEET ENTHUSIAST BOARD person — put it: “Please don’t take reddit outside of reddit.” I mean hello, Al Gore invented the Internet, not Reddit, so they must be two separate places.

The other defense against finding out the identity of a gross dude on Reddit: “outside of reddit he might be a genuinely nice guy.” I’m sure! But how can all this be? Well, it’s confusing.

First you should find out: WHERE ARE YOU RIGHT NOW.

1. Do you see the words “Microsoft Word” anywhere on the screen you’re typing in? Then you are not on the Internet. (Microsoft Word is a program that old people use to type things that then don’t end up on the Internet.)

2. Is your computer turned off? Then you are not on the Internet.

3. Are you typing in an email or a chat? Then you ARE on the Internet but you have some level of expectation of privacy. People can’t “Google” your “emails” or IRC rooms, but people can forward or publish what you say there, so you’re almost on the Internet.

4. Are you on a website, message board, network or other web-based purveyor of images and words? You are on the Internet, which is in public. Everything you type there can be found, through the magic of “having eyeballs” and “scrolling fingers.” And it can be assembled.

5. Can you see the words “Warcraft” anywhere? Then you are on the Internet but in a grey area. Have all your lulz here, no one can see you but some gay guild of pasty nerds.

6. Are you texting? Not sure what that is.