Hello and welcome to In Too Deep, where I over-analyse a certain section of pop culture.
This isn’t so much a regular blog as it is just a short story I decided to write. Anyone that knows Dante’s The Divine Comedy will probably get it, but if not, go check it out. At least it can make you seem more culture. Anyway, on with the story.
It was on night before Good Friday that I found myself lost hopelessly in the woods, with no clear path in sight.
I was attacked by beasts most foul, determined to catch me and tear me to shreds. To my quickest of glances they seemed like some sort of animalistic troll creature, but more I fear I could not tell you.
Further and further into this dark woods I went, going ever deeper into it. Deeper and deeper, lower and lower. It appeared that my salvation was forever out of my grasp.
But good fortune came my way when I met a poet of the name of Virgil. He had been sent to me by my darling Beatrice in the hopes of guaranteeing my safety. He warned me that the road ahead of me would be dark and horrendous, filled with things that no sane man should ever try to comprehend.
Alas I had no choice but to follow this strange man, a man who I only knew from the briefest of interactions and had never met him face to face. He was a friend of my most dearest friends, and so I trusted him with my life.
Soon after a day’s travel we came to the very gates of Hell itself, upon which were prescribed the words of the ancient ones. Upon the very gates themselves read the strangest of names: ‘Google’.
The bar to open the gates and begin my journey had just three words: â€œI’m Feeling Lucky.â€ With a single press my journey began.
The first of the circles, for which there were nine, was upon hindsight the most pleasant. It was here that lay the gateway for the true horrors that were in store for me.
But in this strange land of green grass and blue sky stood seven red and yellow castles. Each castle were the seven virtues found within the world I had found myself in:
The virtue of Chastity, ‘Safe Search’, headed by a stern-headed mother.
The virtue of Temperance, ‘I’m Logging Off’, a wise old-man.
The virtue of Charity, ‘Kickstarter’, a friendly merchant.
The virtue of Diligence, ‘The Moderator’, a man who paid attention to all in his court.
The virtue of Patience, ‘Loading’, a man with a giant hourglass in his hands.
The virtue of Kindness, ‘The Shepard’, there to guide all the new people.
The virtue of Humility, ‘You’re Right’, a humble woman on a small throne.
But our stay was only for brief, as we had to continue our way till we meet that of most fearsome beasts, a monster that knows all secrets and judges accordingly.
â€œThis is the NSA,â€ said Virgil. â€œIt monitors everything you do and reports it back to his master. He will be following you throughout your journey in this terrible place.â€
â€œI can not let him pass,â€ said NSA. â€œHe is not registered.â€
â€œFear not,â€ replied Virgil, â€œHe is with me. Follow me and you will be able to follow him.â€
â€œAgreed,â€ rumbled the NSA. â€œGo, be on your way. I shall be watching.â€
Upon entering the second circle I heard the shrieks of harpies most foul as the storm raged around me. The very wind itself seemed to scream with a rage and delight I had never heard on Earth.
All around me bodies were tossed about, battered in the wind, forever kept apart. Briefly they would stop in their flight, settling near some strange statue of some kind. But before they could grasp too tightly the wind picked them up again, sending them flying about. All around the storm raged.
â€œWhat is this foul place,â€ I asked Virgil, avoiding a flying body and examining a statue. It was of a young man, handsome in his own way with long black hair and baby blue eyes. I briefly heard the name ‘Tom’ in the wind as I stood near it.
â€œThis is the place where those of the most fleeting of opinions are shown the error of their ways. The place where those that try to latch onto something will be forever dragged away from it. They idolise the statues and are thus doomed never to be near them. It is their own actions that drive themselves away.â€
â€œThis is indeed a terrible place,â€ I admitted. â€œAnd what of those beings yonder?â€ They were humanoid in shape, but that is where the similarities ended. They had sharp teeth and claws, ready to latch onto something and never let go. They had one poor victim in their clutches, draining the life away from them, watching them as they grow weaker and weaker.
â€œIn my time they were called succubus, female demons that would ensnare men and suck all the life out of them. Now they have a new name.â€
â€œOh?â€ I enquired.
The third circle provided less relief than the first two. It was a darkened pit, illuminated by only three screens. Infinite rows of chairs spread out in front of the screen. The were clearly some sort of torture device. Each person was locked in tightly, a thorny helmet keeping their eyes open at all times. Their mouths were shown shut, but it was clear they were trying to scream.
I turned my attention back to the TV screens, the images on it of the most perverted nature. Cats with captions underneath them, colourful ponies, videos that would seem amusing in nature at first but would quickly get tiresome. Played on an endless loop for the rest of eternity. Any humour that could be found in them was quickly gone.
â€œWhat foul deed must these fools have committed in order to suffer this?â€ I asked Virgil.
â€œSimple. They were gluttonous, binging and feeding on the memes and randomness of the world that you find yourselves in. They offered nothing of any value or benefit to the world, merely spreading the same garbage constantly till it was no longer funny.â€ The ground suddenly vibrated roughly.
â€œWhat was that?â€ I asked fearfully.
â€œAh,â€ said Virgil. â€œThe great beast has woken. Good wakings oh great Tumblr.â€ The beast said nothing, sweeping backwards and forwards looking for its prey.
â€œHow are we going to get by that monstrosity?â€ I asked fearfully.
â€œDo not fear,â€ said Virgil. â€œI already brought a picture of a LOLcat it hasn’t seem before. It won’t bother us for quite some time.â€
The fourth circle was unlike anything that I was expecting. It appeared that I was in the audience of some giant theatre. There seemed to be an infinite amount of stages whilst at the same time only one. It was as if I could see every being on the stage at the same time.
There, helpless and naked, were people of all creeds and ages. I recognized a few of them, famous stars in their time who were always trying to get attention. Others were unknown to me. But the torture was all the same.
They were placed upon the stage and had their life mistakes read out to them, a suitable punishment for their misgivings. Some were beaten to death, some incinerated in a giant spotlight, one was even knocked over by a wrecking ball.
â€œWelcome to the circle of Greed,â€ said Virgil, pre-emptively answering my question. â€œHere stays those that were greedy for fame and success, constantly promoting themselves and their views above all else. It is fitting that those that were greedy enough to get attention are now forever damned to get said attention thrust upon them. And all the punishment that comes with it.â€
â€œIndeed,â€ I said cautiously as one person was trampled to death by a horde of screaming teenagers. â€œNot what they had in mind then?â€
â€œOf course not,â€ replied Virgil. â€œThose willing to promote themselves best beware the critical feedback that will come back. Not all of it will be good.â€
Ahead of us in the fifth circle lay a foul river, filled to the brim with bodies constantly fighting each other. They were dragging each other done into the sludge, fighting to get out. If only they realised that if they worked together they’d be free.
â€œWhat foul river is this?â€ I asked, my nose crinkling to the smell of it.
â€œIt is known as the great Forum, or at least the city is. This is merely the less Forum that surrounds it.â€
â€œBut all of this fighting,â€ I said. â€œWhy do they squabble about such unimportant things?â€
â€œBecause to them they are right. And that is the only thing that is worth fighting about. Come, we have a friend to guide us.â€
This friend was a strange creature, a being called a ‘Moderator’. It was one of their jobs to try and keep order within this foul river, but a job that was no doubt pointless. No matter how many fights they broke up there’d be more going on nevertheless.
We arrived at the edge of the great city Forum, but was denied entry by giant beings known as the ‘Administrators’. I thought that this was the end of my travel until one of creator’s beings came down and granted us access. I did not know whether I should be thanking him or not.
â€œBrace yourself Dante,â€ said Virgil. â€œWe are moving from the passive sins to the active ones. Those before us did not know of their sinful ways. What you are about to experience embrace it fully.â€
All around us in the six circle people were trapped in cages, set alight and burning for all time. They screamed in agony as their skin peeled off their bones only to regrow again straight away.
â€œWhat crime must these people have committed to deserve themselves trapped within these flaming tombs?â€ I asked in despair.
â€œThey are there of their own choosing. They questioned the authoritative right, starting fights over their erroneous beliefs. Now they burn in retribution for all the fires they started in their unjust causes.â€
â€œBut what being would punish them for questioning the order of things?â€
â€œYou will meet him momentarily,â€ said Virgil, pointing to a man at a desk I didn’t notice before. In front of him was a book far bigger than any I’d scarce imagined before in my life. He paused momentarily before writing some more.
â€œHere lies the knowledge of the world, collected and recollected in these editions. It is said that when he finishes writing then the Day of Judgement will come.â€
â€œDoes this wise scholar have a name?â€ I asked.
â€œBut of course,â€ said Virgil. â€œWikipedia.â€
â€œAnd how does he relate to those trapped within the flaming cages.â€
â€œThey couldn’t provide the necessary citation to justify their changes.â€
The heat almost drove me to my knees as we attempted to transverse the seventh circle. All around me fires raged, far hotter than those I’d previously experienced in the sixth.
â€œThis is the circle for those that engage in violence,â€ explained Virgil, unaffected by the heat. â€œThose that rage against each other, those that hurt themselves doing so and those that rage against the powers that be.â€
The first beings we saw were trapped in a pool of molten lava, burning alive. Whenever they tried to get free they were shot down by beings like the Moderators and Administrators, pushed back in the burning lava to disintegrate and be reborn. This was the place for those that didn’t learn from their lesson of violence and came back to try again.
The second circle were trees with bodies hung on them. Here I learnt were the fools that tried to fight against the violence and feel victim to it, becoming the monster they were fighting against. As punishment they were rendered immobile, forced to suffer the trolls that ran through their midst.
But the worse were the last lot. A scorching desert, filled with humans and trollish monsters. Yet most unusually whenever a troll killed a human they transformed into one. Likewise any troll that died by human hands became a troll himself. It was hard to tell who was fighting the good fight and who was fighting for the sake of fighting. Perhaps both were just as bad as the other: The trollish monsters that started the fights, and the humans that fed their violence.
The eighth circle was the most unusual, as it was filled to the brim with liars and deceivers. These poor souls that have deceived and mislead people in life were now deceived and mislead in death. Deaf and blinded they were chained around the neck to one another, one following the other.
Alas whenever the leader fell into a lethal trap the rest had no choice but to follow, unable to see what awaited them. On and on the conga line of trauma went, with new and more interesting ways of killing people. But despite the deaths the chains still held and the line kept moving, all the way back to the beginning.
But most cruel were the beings surrounding these poor souls. Large monsters, a strange mix of human, beast and reptilian, flew around them. Out of their mouths spewed the most cunning of taunts, convincing the soul to follow it over anything else. Promises of freedom and salvation tricked the souls into walking blindly into some horrible trap.
â€œWhat are those foul beasts,â€ I asked, â€œbeings that offer goods and services but only inflict lies and suffering instead?â€
â€œThose my dear friends are what we call spammers. Now come with me, least you fall for their charms and end up as trapped as the rest of them.â€
After much struggle and trials we finally reached the final circle of Hell, a place that defied my expectations. After the fire and brimstone I had previously seen the last thing I expected to see was a blizzard of ice colder than anything I’d ever experienced before.
â€œWelcome to the centre of Hell,â€ explained Virgil. â€œHome of the treacherous. Those that say they stood for something but would change opinions for anything. They flip-flopped in life and thus they’re frozen in death.â€
â€œAnd who is that beast in the centre?â€
â€œThat is the most foulest of things of all time, a three-headed monster representing the worse of humanity.â€
â€œWhat is this thing called?â€
â€œThe first being in its mouth is YouTube. The second is Google+. The third is Facebook.â€
â€œThe beast’s name!â€
â€œIt’s name… is Social Network.â€
It was there I learnt the true horror of the internet. By itself it’s a brilliant invention, but mankind has perverted it beyond recognition. Turned it into some foul horror that brings the worse of mankind to the surface, exposing the corruption at the very heart. The internet wasn’t created to be a Hell, but it is we who made it that way.
As we left this sad, horrible place I could only hope that somewhere on this hellish landscape was a reprieve. Somewhere good. Somewhere where one could truly and safely express themselves.
If such a Heaven exists then it would have many stars. And one day I would like to see it.
So there you have it. My look at comparing the internet to Hell. If you disagree with anything, or have anything to add, feel free to leave a comment. Till next time.