An Anonymous Valentine’s Day

Beth Rankin

I’m sorry, boyfriend.

You’re a great catch, really. You give great back rubs, hook up my electronics and even do my laundry from time to time. But your love has been eclipsed by another: The Internet.

I hate to dump you on the most romantic day of the year for a series of tubes, but things with the Internet are getting really serious.

Before recently, the Internet gave me everything I needed: news, shopping, TV (no commercials!), social networking and all the German gymnasium porn a girl could ask for. But this year, the Internet gave me the Valentine’s Day gift that keeps giving whether I want it or not: Anonymous.

Anonymous is an ideologically ambiguous Internet vigilante group that uses a combination of hacking and IRL (translation: “in real life”) stunts and has, according to its Web site, been known to target “. 16-year-old girls, your mom, pedophiles, Scientologists and you.” The group has been known to hack DeviantART pages, MySpace profiles and claims via YouTube to be “what you, deep down inside, want to do to your wife when she doesn’t make you dinner when you come home.”

The group voices its somewhat vague (and sometimes violent) dogmas using endless streams of hyperlinked netspeak, a truncated version of the English language that we all know whether we wish to speak it or not: OMG. LOL. ROFL. The phrases that have migrated off pedophiles’ fake MySpace pages and into our verbal lexicon.

Anonymous claims to hate just about everything except for destruction and those adorable Lolcats from the blog “I Can Has Cheezburger?”

And now Anonymous is receiving some serious national attention IRL.

On Jan. 21, Anonymous declared war on the Church of Scientology via a video statement posted on YouTube in which the group issued this bone-chilling threat: “For the good of your followers, for the good of mankind – for our own enjoyment – we shall expel you from the Internet and systematically dismantle the Church of Scientology in its present form. We acknowledge you as a serious opponent, and we are prepared.”

Wow. That is a seriously lofty goal. Reality TV couldn’t bring me a juicier plotline if its shelf life depended on it.

Anonymous kicked off its campaign against Scientologists by leaking secret Scientology videos and by staging a masked IRL protest outside the central Phoenix Church of Scientology. Photos and videos of all of this are, of course, available with little Googling effort.

In all my hours reading about Anonymous and its doctrines, it is hard to tell whether they will, in the end, be considered the good guys or bad, but it seems as if they thrive on that sort of ambiguity.

The only thing that is certain is that if this group succeeds in its goals, the way humans vocalize and assuage social problems will be forever changed.

I suggest you dump your boyfriends and start watching. It’s going to be a hell of a show.

Beth Rankin is a senior photojournalism major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].