The Internet is a Lonely Place (Part 2)

Continued from Monday

Chris-chan has been trolled mercilessly for years, being involved in a series of increasingly bizarre and implausible melodramas that are usually based around his latest internet girlfriend, who inevitably winds up being a team of teenagers. To call this cyber bullying would betray a lack of imagination. This is more like The Truman Show being carried out by particularly cruel clutch of psych undergrads. People have made pilgrimages to his town to start conversations with him and record the results. Money has been made off of selling audiobooks of his comics, and he once went toe-to-toe with a guy claiming to be the REAL Christian Winston Chandler in a series of sing-offs, which he inevitably lost. This war–he considered it a war for a very long time–grew to dominate most of his life (he’s since reduced his internet activities and has apparently given up on his comic,) the same magical thinking that made him think he could curse the dean of his community college, creating a great saga in which he struggled against a shadowy army of trolls while he searched for true love.

Trolls engage Chris-chan at their peril.

Given that he didn’t go out very often, and probably doesn’t still, the trolling has made up a significant part of his life, and probably led him to meet more people than he would have otherwise. He’s estimated that he has around “a billion” fans, which can in part be blamed on his incredible ego, his tendency to self-aggrandize, or his tenuous connection to reality, and in part be blamed on the numberless trolls paying attention to him and occasionally making fun of him under the guise of positive feedback. At times it almost feels like Chris-chan really is famous, if only because of the attention lavished on him and the numerous projects that have come out of the cottage industry based around him. The sheer surreality and extensiveness of his wiki makes it sometimes feel as if you’re stepping into an alternate world built by the most banal forms of hate and madness, a petty fiefdom that revolves around one dirty, kaleidoscopic room of childhood memories in the suburbs of Charlottesville.

As of right now no one really knows what Chris is up to, exactly. After a few months of relative silence he stated on his Playstation Network account that he’s now a “TomGirl.” A few weeks after that, photos of him in makeup and women’s clothes were leaked. They’re not flattering but he looks marginally happier than he has in the past, and there’s some evidence that he’s been taking better care of his body. It’s unclear what brought about this change, and how this jibes with his historically deep homophobia, but as far back as observers can tell he’s always wanted to have a female doppelganger, and he’s almost exclusively preferred the company of women. This could be something of a breakthrough for Chris, as he has a history of being averse to any sort of change, let alone one this big. At the same time, he has an even more pronounced history of fantasy logic and escapism.

Pictured: Fantasy Logic

The scary thing is that a lot of what makes Chris creepy and dysfunctional can be linked back to the rhetoric and implications of the media that he was exposed to, a lot of which is media that most geeks have been exposed to. Almost every time he’s been kicked out of an establishment it’s been an inadvertent result of him being on his “Love Quest,” which borrows its architecture from that romantic underdog story we knew growing up. His tendency to exult his “gal pals” has echoes of that idealized platonic friendship that transcends gender orthodoxy and inevitably leads to nookie, and his defense of his many, fleeting loves and future prospects relies on the whole true, honest, beautiful, passion thing that aids and abets the “Pure Of Heart.”

Chris was introduced to a discourse that overemphasized these things, and I’m pretty sure his autism (and his horrible parents, and his impossibly large ego, and his inability to take even the most kindly-worded criticism) made it hard for

His legend will never die.

him to actually navigate and make sense of it, or at least how it relates to the real world, allowing him to mistake his awkwardness for sweetness and his creepy stalking for true love. It’s one thing when John Cusack is standing on your lawn with a boombox because your father won’t let him into your house, it’s another when it’s some stranger you smiled at while you were at the mall who is now convinced you two were meant to be together. I’m not going to lie: the end result is actually kind of terrifying and there were moments researching where I felt the manchild gazing back into me.

 

The plethoras of Beyonces and Timberlakes promoting themselves and Weezers and Tenacious Ds poking fun at themselves is the natural process of our culture digesting our current low self-esteem. This seems pretty normal to me, and maybe it is better we try and raise our perceived self and individuality instead of becoming too collective and relive McCarthyism, oh wait.

How much do you love yourself? Are we really that awesome? Is DeWall smarter than I am on this? Psh, I don’t think so.