It’s been a long process. I have done shows where I talk exclusively about video games. I did a show where I talked about YouTube and internet culture. I have even worked for a local news station and done the 6 o clock news. In all this time I was not satisfied with any of the work I was doing. I enjoyed most of it, and I promoted all of it even the stuff I wasn’t proud of. This week marks the return to a new vision, an original vision I had for the site to be taken to the next level.
This week I am planning on starting a new podcast called The Dark Web. I am considering hosting the show under my stage name THE RAT, I haven’t decided if I want to do that yet but it’s a very strong possibility.
When I sat out to create The Spiders Lair I wanted to give a voice to those of us who society has called basement dwellers. Those of us who are outcasts or outsiders who gravitate to a inner circle of anti-social groups and activities. The problem is when I started out I failed to realize the main stream culture had co-opted much of our culture without asking for our permission. On the surface it looks like we gained some power and status. Under neath the surface you realize that is not the case. The insiders, the elitists, the marketing wizards that finally figured out how to hack into our culture discovered there was a movement they could not control so they changed the rules. By making “nerd culture” “geek” culture or “gamer” culture mainstream what they did was what they had been doing to us all of our lives, the constant bullying. Taking the things, ideas and activities that we used to hide from them, to shield ourselves from them, and twisting it into some sort of marketing tool.
When it comes to consumerism there are trends and there are fads. The geek culture, which began as a counter culture for outcasts, was integrated into mainstream culture when people who love to make fun of us realized we wielded more power than they expected. So they diluted that power by flooding the market with products that were intended to feel like you could buy this and be a geek, or a nerd, or a hacker, or a gamer. But they didn’t understand us one bit. They don’t realize that to someone who is smart but socially akward calling them a nerd because mainstream culture says it’s okay doesn’t make it hurt any less than calling a black person a negro or other synonym of the word. It doesn’t quite contain the same stigma or social scars to be sure, but it’s really just a sign that they were telling us to “get over it, nerds, it’s okay to be a nerd, because everyone is a nerd so stop pretending like you’re something special.”
I have heard people call them selves a geek, or a nerd, but then exhibit the very traits ‘we’ shun without realizing it’s that behavior that pushed us to the edges of society in the first place. This website was supposed to be a way to take back what was ours. It was supposed to be a safe haven for those of us who can’t or won’t find success in the dog-eat-dog survival of the fittest world Darwin unleashed on the world. We have to survive on scraps. We have to hide in the shadows and put on a mask in order to blend in. Those who aren’t one of us don’t get it so they think it’s just because we collect action figures from our childhood because someone told us it was cool to do so. If you are a grown adult and are buying Transformers action figures from your childhood because you think it is cool, you are NOT a nerd you are NOT a geek, you are NOT a social outcast whose best friend growing up was a piece of plastic. You don’t understand the loneliness we felt when we learned that the only friends we had were those toy companies sold to us or delivered to our doors in the form of a video game or some other form of media.
Everyone is a nerd is a mantra of consumerism. They think oh Transformers movies are popular so it’s cool to buy the toys. The Marvel movies being a success have done the same thing to comic books. Except all it’s done is destroy the heart and soul of what made the comic industry thrive. If you want proof of that, despite the main stream success of the super popular characters due to Disney’s power house marketing, comic book sales are down so low the entire industry set aside one day a year to give out their BEST works entirely for free. This began as a way for those of us who care about comics because we understand the social commentary to come out of the shadows and return to the public places where we used to find solace. I used to spend HOURS in my local comic book shop or used video game store not shopping, not even browsing but socializing. Because it was the only safe place to discuss these things in person with other human beings.
The internet gave us a voice. I started out like all other nerds, true ‘nerds’, on the real internet. I used Usenet, if you can’t figure out what Usenet is or how to access it WITHOUT google you are NOT a nerd. I won’t describe usenet here only say that when I discovered alt.toys.transformers.classics.moderated I was ecstatic to have found a group of people online that shared my interests and experiences I could socialize with. Eventually Google discovered how there was still a corner of the internet using this antiquated (by computer technology standards look up Moores Law for more) well they didn’t see it as a thing on the internet nerds were doing, they saw it as a way make money, so they created Google Groups as a way to bring the old internet into the new internet. Somewhere along the way usenet morphed into discussion boards, also called forums. While we were going through the painstaking process of creating avatars to hide our identity and seek out others who shared our culture to be a part of a group, the mainstream internet was hitting up the Yahoo Chatrooms looking for a quick connection with nothing more in common than I have a genital that fits inside yours wanna chat. Why did every conversation in Yahoo Chat start with ASL? The moniker was Age Sex Location. Because the only thing a “normal” socially capable person needs to know about the other person is can our sex organs get together at some point. They don’t understand how we were not motivated by sex. No, not because we can’t get laid or can’t find love. That’s a topic for another discussion. The truth was we were above it.
You think Sheldon Cooper is a circus clown. He is a freak you enjoy laughing at because you know someone like him and it’s fun to make fun of that person. You don’t realize the Sheldon Coopers, the Rajesh Koothrappali’s and the Howard Walowitz’s of the world actually DO exist, they do find your show and view of them offensive and they are even more scared of the world we live in than ever before because they can’t hide in the shadows anymore. We’ve been unwittingly outed against our wills because mainstream society believes if you don’t conform you aren’t valuable to them.
The Spiders Lair is taking back the word nerd. To me, it’s as offensive as the other N word so don’t come here and call us nerds. See us as people who have our own pains, our own struggles and yes despite our often intellects getting in the way, we have feelings too.
This is why we aren’t into the new Disneyfied Star Wars. Because Disney didn’t understand the world the social outcast George Lucas, a film student who makes indie films, was selling. They didn’t understand the culture behind Star Wars. They (and so DID you) stopped liking Star Wars in 1984. I was alive then. I grew up in the late 80’s and early 90’s. NOBODY liked Star Wars then, except us ‘nerds’. In 1996 I met the first person who wasn’t a kid who had moved on past the hype of the movies who described himself as a real fan. This person was in his 40’s at that time and described to me what Star Wars meant to him. I shared that feeling and it became something personal to me.
In 1997 George Lucas, in an attempt to FUND the prequels because nobody was buying his toys or comics anymore, released the Special Editions. The nerds lined up to see this new take on their favorite films. The mainstream went out in droves not because Star Wars meant anything to them, but because they remembered how popular it was in the 70’s and were relying on nostalgia and media hype. Except the media was being run by nerds who were alive in the 70’s that also loved Star Wars and the Prequels were unleashed upon the world. The mainstream audiences hated them because they weren’t the Star Wars they remembered. Those of us who actually followed the stories in the books, the video games and even the comics, we loved those movies despite their flaws because we enjoy B movies. A B movie can be one of our favorite experiences. One of my favorite movie franchises is the Killer Tomatoes series.
This time Lucas was actually trying to make the movie he saw in his head and the masses rejected it, hurled hatred and vitriol his way for “raping their childhoods” as the expression came to be. Then slowly but surely those of us who loved Star Wars our entire lives were once again relegated to the outcasts, not labeled as Star Wars fans as a bad thing, everyone is a “Star Wars fan” now so it’s okay because it’s cool again. No, the word they use now is prequel apologist. The word I use is dedicated fan that stuck through the good and bad times.
It’s like rooting for a sports team. Star Wars is the sports team that was popular in the 70’s when they had the superstar bringing home trophies for the team. Then it went through a slump in the 90’s where it was forgotten, rebanded itself in the 2000s with some players that got the mainstream attention again, probably using retro jersey’s and doing some plays that were considered old school to get the old fans fired up and the new fans on board. Then it hit mainstream success when it began bringing home the money and nobody cared it wasn’t getting trophy’s anymore it was selling tickets. It became a spectacle not an athletic competition. Star Wars used to mean something to me. Now it’s just like everything else. It’s too watered down and mainstream. It no longer resembles the space fantasy that lit up my imagination as a kid. It’s morphed into The Avengers with Jedi. Don’t get me wrong I enjoy a good spectacle but science fiction wasn’t important to us because it was spectacle.
The best sci-fi movie I have seen in years was Passengers. The mainstream didn’t get the commentary so it was a boring “Titanic in space” those who were explained the commentary were offended and repulsed by it and shunned it. Those of us who got it from the start and understood what it was saying knew it did exactly what science fiction was supposed to do. Spark the imagination by starting a conversation. The movement eventually did reach mainstream culture, right now it’s in the form of #metoo but the mainstream again rejects it not out of moral reasons or even immoral reasons, they reject it because their heroes are falling and they can’t stand to see that. It destroys the illusion they built and people need that illusion to function. Those of us who see through the illusion and see the world for how it really is, of course we battle depression. We also fight the fight nobody else wants to take up. We do what is within our power to make a difference, to try to make the world a better place.
I am here to provide a voice to those who lost it to the internet culture. I am here to provide a safe place where we can take back what was ours and tell the posers to grow up. I am here to provide commentary on the identity theft that has occurred and use every tool at my disposal to get it back. I am not a nerd. I am a hacker. I am taking back the word that WE invented to describe ourselves. It has also been stolen by the masses. Life Hack has replaced the world Tip. Nothing is a tip anymore it’s a hack. Except the mainstream think of hacks as a bad thing so why did they take a word that wasn’t but had a specific meaning? Because they didn’t understand what a hacker does.
A hack is not easy. It’s not supposed to make your life easy. A user turns on his or her computer and it just works. They want it to work as seamless as possible and expect it to just do what they want it to, most often take them to the naked pictures of girls or the place where they can share photos of that new dress they bought. A real hacker is someone that takes the computer a part and rebuilds it from scratch. Someone that breaks the user agreement and forces their computer to do things it was not intended to do. Not to make life easier, on the contrary, to prove they are smarter than the hacks (not hackers) that designed the system. It’s a way to modify the code, the OS, the registry and other “nerd words” you have to look up on Google to understand. If you have to run to google everytime you encounter a blog real hackers use then you are not one of us. You are one of them. We don’t like you. We don’t like bullies. And we are taking back our culture. A hacker hides in the shadows and lives in the dark web. Not the deep web but the dark web. We know the difference because we built it. You probably never wrote a line of code in your life. Oh you maybe googled how to do something cool in HTML when you had a Myspace and modified it to see what would happen. I wrote entire websites from scratch. I wrote entire animations pixel by pixel using code. Pixel. By. Pixel. If you don’t know what that means you are not one of us.
The Dark Web podcast launches this Sunday on The Spiders Lair. Join me in taking back the world we built.