The internet is serious business: 4chan's /b/ board and the Lulz as alternative political discourse on the internet.
thesisposted on 08.06.2021, 08:09 by Luke Simcoe
The online image and message board known as 4chan is as paradoxical as it is popular. Boasting an estimated 18 million unique monthly visitors and generating one million posts per day, the site is a locus of obscenity and bigotry, a wellspring of popular internet culture, and the birthplace of the distributed hacktivist collective known as Anonymous. In contrast to other forms of social media, no registration is required to participate on 4chan, and maintaining a persistent identity is both difficult and discouraged. Although many deride 4chan as puerile or nihilistic, I propose that a nascent form of political expression can be discerned within the site's subculture. Specifically, I explore how participants on 4chan use carnivalesque humour and memetic communication to oster a collective identity and articulate a political orientation towards the internet-summed up by the phrase "the internet is serious business"-while remaining committed to an ethic of radical anonymity. In doing so, I recast participation on 4chan as a political act, albeit one that falls outside of a normative or rational framework.