You stand up, shake sparkly dust from the pixelations of your nether regions, and see a dour, dark-haired dwarf standing in front of you.
“Welcome to the Internet”, the dwarf says.
“So this is it”, you whisper. Over you, a sky in many hues of flesh ripples; under you, a silver floor inscribed with text extends, undulating but unmoving, as far as its undulations let you see.
There seems to be a noticeable absence of anyone except you and the dwarf… but there’s a muttering in the wind; or rather a muttering that goes for the wind here, a million billion voices just beyond the closest hill.
“This is it”, the dwarf says, dourly. “How bad a beginner are you?”
You shrug; you have life experience, and surely this cannot be all that different.
The dwarf gestures you to sit — the spot you sit on is a whorl of the words “The Best of Blogs!” in endlessly different fonts, in a whirlpool whose center seems to un-engrave itself and sink and disappear downwards under the smooth floor surface of the spiral’s centerpoint.
“This is the Internet”, he growls. “A few pointers. One, you will shortly be offended. Deal with it; happens to everyone; you’re not a precious special flower that anyone here is interested in humoring. Two, nothing is sacred. This often leads to point one. Yes, you care about it. Others will mock it, hate it, make porn about it, and photoshop it into a picture of Barack Obama blowing Hillary Clinton’s cock. Deal with it; there are many kinds of love and a hatred for each, and they are the price for venting and vending your own stupid crap here.”
“Uh, did you say—” you begin; the dwarf growls at you.
“Point three. Google it. It’s not that difficult, and ten seconds of that will make you seem less of an idiot. Really, with Wikipedia and all, not knowing the capital of Romania is not ignorance these days. It’s howling terminal incompetence, the like of not knowing, pants, how the fuck do they work? If it exists, Google can find it, and a dozen lies about it; learn to deal with it.”
“Point four. Most people on the Internet do not agree with you. Most people on the Internet have stupid opinions, don’t respond well to argument, and will fly off the handle if you try to set them straight. Also, you have stupid opinions. You don’t respond well to argument. You will fly off the handle if I try to correct you. I’m not telling you to get more logical because with a nitwit like you that is not bloody likely, but be fucking aware of the fact that you are not a precious special flower that is in the right about everything… though why the fuck I even try to impress that on you, I don’t know, you most-def think your shit don’t stink so everyone should sniff it.”
“Then again there are many kinds of scatophilia, so maybe you will get lucky beyond your best dreams or worst nightmares.”
“Point five. The more beautiful and pure a thing is, the more satisfying it is to corrupt it. Also there are people who enjoy writing Helen Keller snuff porn. One is likely to be using tissue this very moment, a he or a she. The Internet does not care how you feel about this; the Internet just wants you to know this: your little perversions are not especially extreme. The Internet still loves you; no reform shit. You are a coward, like everyone is: the Internet is where you can show that part of yourself that you don’t want to be seen. Better that than keeping it inside, eating you. There are no limits, not even the sky—”
And as the dwarf says this, a great cleft tears open in the fleshy sky above; you shudder realizing what it is, and lower your eyes, not having seen one that big before.
“—so don’t say there’s no place for you. Do what you want; no-one cares except those like you and the FBI.”
“Point six. Don’t argue with the trolls.”
“What are trolls?” you ask; the dwarf pulls out a handkerchief, smoothes it over his forehead, draws a slimy live salmon out of a pocket, and whacks his forehead a few times with it.
“Jesus Christ on a pogo stick you are clueless; not a word does appear that a goatse does not spring to mind. A troll is a fan of emotion; of outrage, confusion and anger especially. They’re regular fishers on the Internet; your choice if you want to bite.”
“Point seven. You will fail. Everyone fails. And the Internet remembers all your fails forever. The Internet remembers what elephants have forgotten. Get used to it; it’s a feature not a bug.”
“Point eight. The Internet is not the Meatspace, and a generation will have to pass before anything you hear meatspace about the Internet is worth more than a potter’s cuss. This is not the meatspace. Here faceless people will say all kinds of things at your un-face; some will break your heart, some your head, some just make you cry or howl with rage. Some will be the most beautiful thing you’ve ever heard, or a disposable laugh; some will be about a kitten and a stapler. New York isn’t Beijing; Beijing isn’t Stockholm; this place is diverse and yet has laws and habits everywhere. Don’t be the tourist whose only trick is to speak slower and louder; the locals don’t have time for your stupid shit. Don’t be that guy.”
“Point nine. Your piece of the Internet is your piece; be a Goebbels and an Idi Amin in it, or whatever you want. The places of others are their places; don’t think they can’t go all crime-against-humanity on your visitation there. Don’t cry for a sheriff; this is not the Wild West but a Post-Nuclear Wasteland with Zombie Unicorns in it, and sometimes you just need-a walk away. All is a joke, and all is deadly serious, often the same thing to the very same people. There is no moderator anywhere. Do you have any questions?”
“Er, about the Zombie Unicorns—” you begin, and the dwarf raises a hand, and gestures with the other at the human sky, the metal floor, and the airs between. “Google it. There are no rules but what you make for yourself, and what your Internet Service Provider and relevant political and police authorities impose on you… and most of those can be circumvented with a google because those people don’t really come here. All you want is here; all you want to give will find a place; don’t ask me what is foolish what is wise; I am a dwarf, not a Pope.”
And with a small pop he disappears, and you’re left in the Internet on your own, though not alone.