If you’re reading this site it’s unlikely that you’re someone who is new to the Internet, but they’re out there. Every day, more and more people are signing up and taking a look around: and what they find is usually strange, fascinating, frightening, and largely incomprehensible.
(And pornographic. Let’s be honest… you can’t swing a cat in the internet without hitting porn, and if you try to swing a cat there’s probably someone out there willing to pay to see you swing said cat on a webcam. So yes, new users will find porn. A lot of porn. Whether they’re looking for it or not. And eventually, if they’ve been on the net long enough, the porn will come looking for them.)
The internet can be a shock to a lot of people, but this shock can be minimized when more experienced users take them in hand and give them a basic structure to work from. To that end, and as a public service to my readers and the people they know who are taking those first, faltering steps as they peer into the great digital abyss, I would like to impart one of the great truths I have come to know over my many years online. This truth, known as “The Laws of Gender Discernment,” can be summed up as follows:
Everyone you meet on the Internet is a man… with one exception.
It’s a bitter pill to swallow, but this truth is so fundamental and important that it cannot be overlooked or understated. Everyone you have met, and everyone you will meet, is in fact a man. Still, there are nuances and qualifiers that must be put into perspective in order to fully appreciate this truth. Let us examine each of these nuances in qualifiers in turn.
Wright’s First Law of Gender Discernment: Everyone you meet on the Internet is a man, possibly over 50, probably overweight, most certainly balding.
This is the most self-explanatory of the laws, but despite it’s absolute clarity you will meet people who will attempt to call this law into question. This tendency necessitated the creation of a second law.
Wright’s Second Law of Gender Discernment: Anyone you meet online who claims to be a woman is lying.
It is an unfortunate truth that the natural anonymity of the Internet encourages people to lie. In some cases, they lie about their gender. Do not be fooled: the First Law has been proven correct time and time again — with only one exception — often to the dismay of many an unwary Internet traveler.
As to why these villains would try to perpetuate such a brazen deception on a fellow netizen, at the moment there is only speculation. Attempts to raise funds to properly research the matter have so far been denied by the Federal Government, on the grounds that the whole topic is “icky.”
Wright’s Corollary to the Second Law of Gender Discernment: the only legitimate and polite way to verify that someone is a woman is to meet her in person and check for an Adam’s Apple.
This corollary is not an admission that you will eventually meet actual women on the Internet; rather, it exists because men operating under the Second Law will often attempt to offer “proof” that they are in fact women. This “proof” will often take the form of photographs that have been scanned and posted for you to view, and sometimes also include long-running stories of their “female” lives that maintain surprising and apparently iron-clad continuity. The sad truth, however, is that any proof offered over the Internet can be faked. The only legitimate way to verify that someone is a woman is to meet in her in person; and the only polite way to verify her gender in person is to look for an Adam’s Apple.
There are also impolite ways to verify her gender, but these methods are frowned upon for two reasons:
- They are impolite.
- They require a level of intimacy between the people involved that is difficult to achieve if you are faithfully adhering to the Laws of Gender Discernment.
It should be noted that the second point is based on an assumption of preference and inclination that, while generally true, is not a universal truth. In such cases, refer back to the first point and move on.
In any event, it is not recommended that you ever attempt to legitimately verify that someone is a woman:
Wright’s Addendum to the Corollary to the Second Law of Gender Discernment: any attempt to verify that someone on the Internet is a woman will result in your body being found in the backyard of a man, possibly over 50, probably overweight, most certainly balding.
Attempting to uncover the deception of a man operating under the Second Law carries certain risks that should be avoided at all costs.
The laws, corollary and addendum listed above form the core set of the Laws of Gender Discernment. As time whent on, however, it became clear that the Laws as described above were incomplete and needed further explanation. To that end, I have come up with the following two new additions:
Wright’s Qualification to the Laws of Gender Discernment: These laws do not govern the population of the Internet in its entirety; they are only valid for the population of the Internet that you will actually meet.
These laws are not laws that define the gender makeup of a population, but are rather laws that define the way that population interacts with itself. There are of course women who use the Internet, but you, dear reader, will never meet them. Whether you are male or female, any person you communicate or interact with online will fall under the specifications outlined in the First Law of Gender Discernment.
I can say this with certainty because when I sit at my desk at home, I can turn my head to the right and see my wife sitting at her desk, checking her mail, browsing the web, and posting in forums. But I’ve never met her online.
This qualification, however, is not set in stone. A recent event has occurred that put this qualification into question, and could indeed threaten the foundation of the Laws of Gender Discernment themselves. This recent event is tentatively called
Faydra’s Exception to the First Law of Gender Discernment: Everyone on the Internet is a man EXCEPT YOUR MOTHER.
The event in question occurred at 8:44 AM on August 16, 2005, in the Cenarion Circle server forums for the World of Warcraft Massively Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Game. The thread in question started out as a typical thread for a gaming server: a player was trying to organize a large-scale battle between two factions of players in the game, and was using the thread to generate interest. One of the players, Brion, followed up at 3:29 AM, which caused the following reply from a player known as “Faydra” some five hours and fifteen minutes later:
Pardon me for hijacking the thread, here..
But, Brion – if you don’t want your mother to know you were up and on the computer at 3:29 in the morning – DON’T post on a forum that she reads.
This is probably the most important breakthrough I’ve had concerning the Laws of Gender Discernment, and may in fact revolutionize the science behind making sweeping statements concerning the Internet. It reflects a mistake that has been made through the entire course of recorded history: the assumption that there are places you can go where you will never, ever accidentally meet your mother.
So, to summarize:
- Everyone who you meet on the Internet is a man.
- Anyone who tells you otherwise is lying to you.
- Except for your mother.
Next lesson: Wright’s Laws of Civilized Internet Discourse.