I started my latest foray into the digital world as a hippie, filled with love and compassion. I saw the world through rose-colored glasses, with no clouds in the sky. I thought I could rise above it all and just exist in my own harmonious way, ignoring the hate and the filth that clogs the internet.

It took two months for me to start posting clown porn at minor celebrities.

I often sat up late, wondering what caused this. I couldn’t blame the drugs and alcohol, as I know my limits. I know how much I can take, and I know that I haven’t pressed that limit in a long time. I knew it’s not just going with the flow around me, as I’ve long been a rock in the stream, letting it just flow around me.

Then I started posting actual human excrement at people.

It became obvious I had a problem. The humble hippie had become a menace, hiding and stalking the hapless denizens of the digital sphere, and a scumbag par excellence. It took many a long sleepless night to figure out the ultimate reason. When it finally hit me, it was through a chemical haze. It was so obvious, I wonder why it wasn’t my first thought.

On the internet, no one bothers to ask if they’re a complete and utter idiot. No one filters themselves. Instead of a normal society, where people kindly tend to keep their idiocy behind closed doors, I was immersed in a world of pure, unadulterated inanity and petty stupidity.

Look at your favorite social media platforms. Twitter, Facebook, whatever you have handy. Odds are, the people you’re interacting with have actually turned off the filter in their brains that makes them go from a tolerable member of society to the most amazing asshole. I should know, I’ve posted pictures of actual assholes at them, and the resemblance is uncanny. I often can’t tell which is the image of an actual human sphincter, and which is my intended recipient of the anus.

We all know the idea of going native. Spend enough time with any given group and there’s a good chance you may take on local customs and ritual. I had immersed myself into a world where insults were compliments, and everything is a prime target for mockery. Really, it’s interesting. People are rather horrible and wondrous beasts. Capable of the greatest compassion and the worst scorn and disdain. Add those ideas to a digital world where humanity has accomplished the closest thing to human telepathy we may ever see. A stream of thought, unfiltered and maddening. The literal abyss Nietzsche spoke of. The madness had infected my very soul, twisting the peace I had fought for so long to attain.

Yet, oddly, I wasn’t willing to leave.

I’d seen the sickness in the digital world. The festering cancer that can only spread, and never be contained or eliminated. I’ve seen so-called “professional” hackers and trolls, and after a time, I found them wanting. I watched countless teenagers who thought the height of humor and sophistication is editing their targets (often celebrities) into images of the Twin Towers falling. And I remained unmoved, undeterred. I’ve come to view what I do as not only an exercise in digital aggression, but a way to see the depths humanity plunges to when left unchecked.

Then I debated sending images of dead babies to Wil Wheaton.

This was the point where I found myself at rock bottom, and scrambling madly for a jackhammer. I can’t stand the idea of dead babies, myself. I find it to be the lowest point in human morality. Why do people want to see such things? Why was I willing to cross the threshold, and put things out there that I, myself, found repugnant?

Yet, I wanted to go further, press the limits in ways that others had longed to do. To eschew my own humanity and morality to make someone else’s day that much worse. Or to just get blocked and have a good laugh at it. Why does this seem to be the height of human pastime? It makes no sense, but here I sit, preparing folder upon folder of unspeakable horrors to unleash upon the digital plane.

I had an entire folder full of photos of the Jonestown Massacre. Let that sink in.

This digital world is full of magic, wonder, excitement, and deepest darkest horror. I walked in with my head held high, and with the silly notion that it wouldn’t break me. It took days to break me, to make me one of them. To make me desire the idea of spending nights throwing images of the worst things I can find into people’s faces. People who may or may not deserve it. People who may or may not like it.

And to this day, I am not sure why.

To be continued…

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Jason Golden
I'm that crazy guy that writes things and hosts the Graded PointFive comics podcast.