Documentary Film Idea: Internet Warriors

The “latest chapter”: of the Scripps/Recipezaar debacle brought out a group of people I had forgotten about. I just had a great idea, though… someone should make a documentary movie about these people! The best documentaries are the ones about real people leading bizarre lives and these people fit the bill and then some.

Here’s the premise…

It’s a group of adult people who get together with a tiny number of like-minded people and attack other people on the internet. That in itself isn’t that new, but what makes them so bizarre is that they do it for years with mostly the same people day and night. It’s essentially a 24×7 365 days a year war, or set of wars. It’s like they’re playing Dungeons & Dragons but with real people on the internet. Some of the groups I’ve seen are well into their 7th year of doing this, and I’d bet even longer before they ever came to my attention. Could it be 10 or 15 years?

We were exposed to it on Recipezaar because it had a large number of people participating in forums and there was a catch-all forum where you could talk about anything you wanted, not just cooking. This group broke up into warring sects or the sects existed before and came to Recipezaar where they saw a lot of innocents. They recruit new members, they pick unsuspecting and gullible people and befriend them to convince them to do things they wouldn’t normally do, they have “sentries” who watch their enemies’ camps (bulletin boards) around the clock and report on what they read, they have “spies” that infiltrate other groups for ammunition and I’m sure tons of other extreme things we never saw.

It’s like a religious military but everything’s done by forum posts, email and IM rather than guns and bombs. Each group has a name, a single cult-like leader who has the final say in who is in the group and who has to be kicked out, who the new targets are and why, they make big speeches to rally their followers, there’s coup d’etats, back-stabbing and everything else you see in a soap opera or war novel.

The issues they battle over are things you’d expect like religion and politics and friendships but also on things you wouldn’t expect: people’s choice of pet, the TV shows and movies they like, the recipes they like (that’s probably Recipezaar-specific) and I’m sure tons of other things that normal people don’t even notice. No issue is too small to go to war over.

I think it’s interesting because the internet really makes them possible. I guess these types existed before the internet, but they were just the crazy aunt or uncle in families or the person down the street who peered out the window and gossiped about everyone and parents told their kids to avoid. But thanks to the internet, they’re worldwide so they have a huge number of people to fight with, to become paranoid about, etc.

I also wonder if they only exist on the internet or if they have wars with their mailman, their neighbors, the cashier at their local grocery store, their spouses and children, etc. In other words, are they the same people as the old crazies pre-internet or are they a new breed focused solely on the internet?

Is it one big long war or is it a series of small battles? Is there scoring and points involved? How do you decide who wins? How do their families get involved? Do their families know and support them or is it hidden from their families? Do they prepare their children to continue the war after they’re gone? Do they teach their children their tactics so they can become great internet warriors one day? Do they have jobs and, if so, does it interfere with their job or career? Does it help them in their job or career? Are they educated, uneducated or a mix? There’s no end to the questions and a documentary could answer them all.

It’s a fascinating sociology and psychological study and it’d be an amazing documentary. Someone’s gotta do it.

15 thoughts on “Documentary Film Idea: Internet Warriors”

  1. [Edited for clarity]

    You should not use the word “war” to mean anything other than the killing of humans. I am a retired military person, I love war and I will not have you disrespect war by using it in any other way but the most horrible way. War is about killing and blood and the loss of family members and the destruction of human beings. Unless you went to military school as I have, you have no right to use the word “war”. I hate the dictionary and you damn liberals who read it and I hate the actual accepted meaning of the word “war”. War is all that is good and holy in this world! People like me fight for your right to have freedom of speech and people like me have to stop you from speaking freely! You have no right to have the rights that I fought for you to have! And you have no right to be in any American Business Enterprise! You have no right to have a job or work or do anything productive unless you love and care for destructive beautiful WAR!

    By talking about these wonderful people who fight wars with each other over trivial topics and who are bent on making the world a worse place you are talking to them as if they are not wonderful, caring, loving, peaceful people. My wife is one of these people and I couldn’t be more proud that she spends 12 to 16 hours a day on worthless wars with people on the internet. If it wasn’t for her fighting her wars on the internet, internet people wouldn’t have the freedoms she’s fighting for.

    I don’t even know that your name is “Troy” and not “Todd”. I don’t understand that not capitalizing “Internet” is how you refer to something that should not be a proper noun or that not capitalizing it is the accepted practice across the internet. While I’m at it, when people talk about Electricity they should capitalize it! I’m sick of little e on Electricity. The same goes for Automobiles, Trains, Airplanes, Food and Water stupid.

    BRG L. Chapman
    USA Retired

    P.S. Go ahead Todd and edit, change or delete this posting. I am sending the ORIGINAL version to hundrends of Zarr (no, I will not spell that correctly either!) member worldwide. They will see you for the real fake that you are. You’ll see, that business you sold almost 2 years ago and that you have nothing to do with in any way will be in trouble when I expose you for who you really are, and it won’t affect you at all, and ???????

    P.P.S. Yes, I am the one who commented on your other post about how angry and jealous I am of you and the money you made by selling your business.

    Now, I will go take my meds and sleep tight in Mexico, where I live, because I love America too much to live there! Grrrrrrr…..

  2. You make good points, BRG L. Chapman. There’s probably nobody on the Internet who spend time posting angry messages directed at people they’ve never met and have no bearing on their lives at all.

  3. Looks like you’ve already got folks auditioning for your movie “Todd”.

    Can’t decide which role, though. Is it for…
    1. Centurion: Centurion tries to gain tactical advantage in battle by asserting that he is, or was at one time, in the military. He affects the brusque demeanor and clipped style of a drill sergeant, and intimidates opponents by sprinkling his messages with military verbiage and obscure acronyms. He reinforces weak arguments by constantly reminding other Warriors that he has “done his duty”, or “served his country”. Sometimes Centurion may even post pictures of military hardware or images of himself in fatigues brandishing a weapon. Centurion may actually have a military background, or he may just be a nut case – no one really knows.


    2. Furious Typer: Furious Typer’s combat strategy is to drown the adversary in a tsunami of angry verbiage. FT is absolutely immune to subtlety and ignores all but the barest essentials of any argument. After briefly appraising the gist of the opponent’s counter attack FT puts head down and rapidly fires off long rambling messages replete with grammatical and factual errors. The typical Furious Typer lacks endurance, however, and if the other combatants can weather the initial assault FT will quickly exhaust and retire from the field.

  4. Hi Troy! Haven’t left a comment in awhile. The kids look beautiful. It’s hard to believe that Hudson is already 5 months old. I enjoyed reading all the drama on the last blog post. It made me glad that I stopped going into the forum at Zaar even though I didn’t stop using the site. Take care.

  5. Your absolutely right TODD, I can’t read. T-R-O-Y spells “TODD” . . . we’re in Mexico. We flew down to Barra de Navidad last week for the fishing tournment. We’ll probably stay another week and enjoy our beach house before flying back to the states, where we live!!!! Beach house, did you catch that? We have our own beach house in Mexico because we’re very very very wealthy. Does that impress you? I have to make that clear because I need you to believe that I’m not jealous of you, in spite of how clear it is that I am. Really, I’m not. I’m rich beyond belief. The US Army pays *that* well. Please believe me, I’m rich and I’m well-regarded in the arts and sciences too. I post anonymously for that very reason, it’s not possible to make grand claims about yourself if you have to expose your true identity.

    PS: Really don’t appreciate your editing of my post . . . I like misspelling things and using bad grammar, it really shows off my intellect. However, what did I expect, your living up to your well deserved reputation that I created in my head about you. I love you Todd, I want to be like you and I will follow your blog forever so I can learn all about your life. My life is just so boring I have to read the blogs of strangers to entertain myself. Please notice me and like me!!

  6. @What the Hell are you talking about?:

    Thanks, I always try to live up to your expectations so I’m glad I am doing well. I hope you enjoy the last week of your vacation. Reading blogs and going to war with strangers on the internet sure sounds like the perfect relaxing vacation.

  7. This is Todd here, not Troy. Everyone, please note the difference in the spelling of the two names. We are different people. Thank you.

    Anyway, when (not “if”!) this documentary goes into production, can I have the assignment to shoot the still publicity photos during filming? It would be like documenting a documentary.

  8. I totally appreciate this post, Troy. You have your finger on the pulse of the CC at Zaar. This is what I’ve learned from Zaar and what eventually made my decision to leave Zaar and move over to another site. I refer to it as “Little Big Man Syndrome”.

    You have two scenarios:

    1a. “I am lonely and it’s miserable, therefore you are going to be miserable, as well.”
    (a) This personality thrives on controversy and feels vindicated when they cause trouble. They cannot tolerate seeing anyone they feel has it better than they might have it. To them they see it as a challenge and feel superior when they’ve won by harassing others.

    2a. “I am passive aggressive and since I cannot get away with this behavior in my life, I’ll push the envelope on the Internet where I cannot be exposed so easily.”
    (b)This personality wants to do and say things to people to let out their feelings. Typically, they accomplish this by ‘jumping on the bandwagon’ behind the aggressors and do in fact, get their two cents in by rooting them on or slipping in innocent comments; later covering up if they are called on those comments.

    3a. “I want attention whether it is positive or negative.”
    (c) This personality is typically an attention craver. They will do whatever they can to get that ‘fix’ to make themselves feel superior with no regard for the other person. It is easy to spot these types; they are the ones that perpetually post about all the terrible things that happen to them on a daily basis and it will normally involve something that someone else has done to them. “Poor me. Comfort me. Feel sorry for me.”

    Then you have your followers:
    1b. “I want to ‘belong’.”
    (a) This personality type is constantly on the lookout to find the hole they fit into. They get drawn in easily and are seen as prey by personalities 1a, 2a $ 3a.

    2b. “I want to be part of the ‘cool crowd’.”
    (b) This personality type is quite similar to that of 1b, in that, they are looking to to part of something. However, they are much more easily molded once they are taken in and tend to morph into the image of their ‘pack leader’.

    3b. I want attention whether it is positive or negative.
    (c) See 3a(c) above.

    It is a real shame that this goes on. A lot of good, solid, members have stopped using the forums or have left Zaar because of this behavior. There are more good Forum Hosts than bad, but there are a few that like to stir the pot. Unfortunately, it is the good FH’s that get the backlash with no provocation.

    Maybe one day things will take a turn and this world will start to heal its wounds and it will spill over into all that we do.

  9. CC continues to be a war zone, ugly and childish. One of the major pot stirrers recently left, and I quietly cheered to myself. Occasionally I have posted in the positive threads, but for the most part, I just enjoy the tools on RZ. On a positive note, Zaar has rejuvenated my excitement about cooking. I do enjoy CS for figuring out various problems, and how things work (or don’t). Thanks for still being accessible.

  10. Hi Barbara,

    I am sorry you feel that way; reading your comment has really saddened me. I on the other hand have thought you to be a a very nice lady with a shining personality. I am sorry, you’ve landed on the left. I never remember a time when you ever offensive to me nor I to you. Please keep in mind that sometimes things are not as they seem because it is often the runt of the litter that gets eaten. (My being the runt)

    Take care.

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