4chan Founder Says Internet Culture is Dead — Is He Right?

Getting old sucks.I remember feeling pathetic when I saw my first playmate that was younger than me. Now I’ve reached a point where NFL players my age are retiring after long, full careers. But I’m not the only one growing older. It seems that 4chan founder Chris “moot” Poole is getting up there in age as well.

Listening to Poole speak (I bet he doesn’t even like the “moot” part so much anymore — thats got to wear on him like a bad tattoo), I think one word: cranky. As in, “Hey you damn kids, get off my lawn” or “That’s not music, that’s noise! Skrillex? Feh! At least Ace of Base songs had a melody you could dance to.”

Recently, Poole gave an interview to Forbes magazine, in which he suggested that internet culture is, in fact, dead. “As online culture has moved offline, pop culture has moved online, they’ve met in the middle, and become the same thing now.”

Poole cites not only the media’s lack of interest in Anonymous, a hacker group that sprang forth from 4chan’s message boards as an example, but also the relative indifference of the group itself. “People are fatigued,” said Poole. “Last year was really remarkable, but if [any other bill like]  SOPA had come out six months later, would there have been the same response?” Here he speaks in regards to the hacker group’s DDoS attacks and general mischief over the Stop Online Piracy Act, a bill which the Internet came out in droves to abolish (the bill is currently on indefinite hiatus).

The 4chan founder suffers from “Golden Age Syndrome,” the same issue many of the characters in the film “Midnight in Paris” were afflicted with. It is essentially the belief that there is a better time one could have lived in as opposed to the present. The internet is not weaker, it is just a different sort of animal with a different set of governing dynamics then it was when Poole was a mover/shaker. Motivations are not worse, they are just different. Also cited as evidence of the internet’s “indifference” was the lack of participation in the recent Facebook vote that cost users a voice in the company’s decisions. While it can certainly be argued that not enough people knew about the vote to be able to participate, the other reality is that the general public doesn’t really need to have a vote in Facebook’s actions. The company seems to largely be doing just fine without our input. While it is unique and fun, it is ultimately unnecessary (plus, Facebook stacked the deck pretty hard against the vote’s success).

We, the people, can be a tiger when we need to fight battles, but it is hard to get angry about something as shrouded in “politispeak” as the recent World Conference on International Telecommunications, in which 80 countries (including the U.S.) voted down a proposal for greater restrictions on global internet sanctions. We didn’t need to leap up in anger because there was essentially never a threat in the proposal passing. Congress voted unanimously against the measure, as did most of the major countries across the civilized world.

Look, “moot”: when Anonymous gets too waterlogged with casual participants to be a viable threat, a new core group will spring from the ashes of burning Guy Fawkes’ masks. When “illegal download” actions are threatened, neckbeards will always be there to shout “Meh!” They’re younger than you, they appear to do things different than you, but when you boil it down, the kids are alright. It wasn’t so long ago that our parents thought we were letting the world go to hell in a handbasket. Now drink some warm milk and shut up.

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