Dan Eats Cat Food’s Inferno: Circle Two: The Social

Posted: May 12, 2010 by kaostheory in Inferno
Tags: ,

Friends, as we two – the poet and I, your faithful narrator – passed through the tunnel, we came upon a monstrous room, the height of which I could not determine. There, in the center of the room, lounging on an oversized computer chair, a massive keyboard on his lap, was a morbidly obese man, skin flecked with acne scars, his shirt tight across his breasts, fingers stained an orange hue from the snacks in the bowl that rested on his giant hip. The room, save a thin walkway leading to the man, was filled with souls clamoring to hear their fate, laptops and mice chained around their necks. His voice, curiously high and reedy, echoed off the walls as he sent the souls to their fates. Bidding the next creature draw near, he gazed through thick lenses at the trembling soul, his nostrils flared to more readily absorb and classify the smell of their sins. Within a moment, his judgement was decided. As he announced the circle to which the soul would be sent, he pressed a button on his keyboard and the unfortunate soul plummeted down to their eternal hell.

“Fourth Circle. RedTube,” he bellowed. Seventh Circle. Second Circle. Eighth Circle. Second Circle. Second Circle. Fifth Circle. Ninth Circle. As the “ninth” was called, the other souls voiced their displeasure at the doomed one, a soul so wicked it forces even the damned to weep. To be damned to the Ninth Circle is to have previously renounced any sense of good or humanity one has. A surge of fear in imagining what terrors I would face there curled a cold wind around my spine.

“Who is this creature, poet?” I asked Astley, my voice cracking as if a burgeoning pubescent.

“He is Adminos, Judge of the Netdamned. Once a powerful king of one of the most mighty message boards on the Internet, he now sits on his velvet throne, doing in Hell as he once did on Earth. With a press of that button, he bans the person to the most fitting circle, entirely dependent on their Internet sins. He is bound to this place, unable to use his own discretion or biases or personal vendetta to alter the future of others. He only is able to sense what they have earned and to send them to the proper circle. This is his punishment. Eternal power over the souls of others yet powerless to do other than press a button.”

“Can he not damn us, as we are here?”

“Our time has not yet arrived. Come. We must descend. The Second Circle awaits.”

He gestured to a jagged hole in the far wall. Moving quickly through the morass of waiting souls, we exited through the hole out onto a cliff. My legs nearly failed me as a cursed wind whipped our faces with icy lashes at great speed. A tremendous din, though not all wind, poured around us, deafening us. My eyes widened as I surveyed the sights in front of me, still vainly trying to hold my balance. A vast caldera met my gaze, spanning as far as I could see. Clouds and fire masked much but I could discern the various rings and in the very center, still far, far away from my guide and I, was a city with walls that jutted high into open air. Somehow I knew that it was not my time to know of the city.

Slowly, carefully, we descended the treacherous cliff via a small, winding path. Several times my heart grew tight in my chest as we traversed the path that seemed to disappear at points, yet soon enough we reached level ground. I bent to kiss the earth, but Astley stopped me, cautioning me against such reckless and unsanitary behavior. With a nod forward, he gestured me onwards, onwards into the Second Circle.

As I entered the circle, a large enclosed arena that appeared as if it were a terrarium at some hellish zoo, a blast of stimuli greeted me, forcing me backwards. Dings and chimes and screaming surrounded us two as reds and oranges and popup windows flashed and disappeared and flashed again, all in an instant. The influx of sensory input overwhelmed me. Staggered, I fell to one knee.

“Astley, what is this place? What have we entered?”

“This is the Second Circle, my friend. This circle and the next are of the Attention-Seeking Sins.”

“The Attention-Seeking Sins?”

“Yes. In these circles exist those who treat the Internet not as a place of learning and growth, not as a place to build relationships with like-minded individuals, not as a place to stay abreast of the current events de jour, but simply as a sounding board where they can be louder and more obnoxious than the rest. Think of these circles, if you will, as users screaming as loud as they can to be heard above the rest.”

“That presumably explains the screaming.”

“Indeed. This circle, the second of nine, is the Circle of Social. Those who reside here do not wish harm on other users. They simply demand that they be paid more attention. Three primary groups make up this circle, though they do intermingle. Near the ceiling, aching to break free of the constraints of this place, are the Twitterers. There in the middle, surrounding their false god, are the Facebookers. And there, buried deep in the myraid closets that line this circle, are the Myspacers. All damned but all in different ways.”

As I looked, I grew puzzled and desired nothing more than to learn more. I wished to understand the groups, learn why and how they were punished. With a sigh, Astley acquiesced and led me first to a platform where I was affixed with small blue wings that carried me high up into the Twitterers. All appeared morose and sullen, frustrated.

“What is their punishment, poet?”

“Those who are damned for Twitter are cursed to a life of no followers, their thoughts and jokes and musings lost into the aether. No matter how many others they follow, they will never receive a reader. Their updates only rarely go through as well, the service failing just as they attempt to post something, anything. They have been promised respite from their torment if they reach a state of being entirely caught up on all updates, yet just as they are reading the last Tweet, thousands more pour in. Finally, every hour on the hour, all the work they have done, all the posts they have managed to push through, is erased when the Fail Whale erupts from the great blue expanse of the sky, consuming all that has been said. For the Twitterers, they are relegated to a life of obscurity and wasted time as they were when they lived.”

An excited cry came from my left and I looked to see a joyful man, clad in a trucker hat, exult. Curious, I called to him.

“Man, why do you laugh? Are you not condemned?”

“Totally, dude! But check it, I just got my first follower! I’m the most followed dude on Twitter, dude! CNN can suck one! Ashton Kutcher wins!”

Just then, a monstrous white whale, a creature that Melville saw in his nightmares, tore through the sky and swallowed the man whole. On his screen, a lonely zero appeared. Concerned at this monster’s presence, I flew back down to Earth. After a brief moment to regain my land legs, I walked with Astley over to the Facebookers. In the middle of their giant circle sat a smug man, casually waving to everyone, assured of his brilliance.

“Who is this that towers over these poor souls?”

“That is Zuckerberg, creator of the god they worshipped, their Facebook.”

“He is damned, yet he does not suffer?”

“On the contrary, he suffers as his people suffer. Their punishment is twofold. For every misspelled word, for every instance of text speak, for every high school age drama laid bare for the world to see, they are burned by Grammar Nazis until their sins are corrected. Every sin they ever committed on that site is punished. Most remain eternally burned. As well, Zuckerberg is forced to change completely every day the site they hold so dear . The design of their love is malleable and serves only to anger and frustrate its users. To them, he is a power-mad dictator, unconcerned with the concerns of those who worship him.”

“Does he yet hurt from their insults?”

“Not outwardly. He is – in the vernacular of the time – a douchebag. Inside, though, he cries tears of anguished blood.”

“And the Myspacers? What becomes of them, Astley?”

“See for yourself.”

As we walked, music began to swell, louder and louder, until it became nigh on earpiercing as we approached. As I winced, I tried my best to ask of the poet what they were experiencing.

“My friend, they are trapped in their closets, unable to enter the real world. I dare not open one, but inside, they are bombarded with horrifically gaudy and flashy colors, terrible laughing and screaming icons and wave after wave of abominable independent music that sounds more akin to a human child with colic being fed feet first into a blender than any semblance of music. Worst of all, they toil in their closets, unnoticed by the world at large. There was once a time where these were kings among the Internet, but their time has passed, faded idiots in a world of idiots born anew.”

My stomach clenched, horrified at their fate. I had to leave. I could not experience this anymore.

“Take me, poet, to the Third Circle. I can no more stomach this place than I can accept Jedi as a world religion.”

“Then come, friend. We shall face the Great Beast together.”

I dared not ask what the Great Beast entailed. I would know soon enough.

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