As a Bulgarian blogger writing in English, I have the duty to make important Bulgarian-born ideas known to the world, rather than languishing in the confined public space of my small country. Recently, I mentioned that many Bulgarian bloggers ironically call themselves "reptiles". It turned out to come from an article in the July 4 issue of 24 chasa newspaper, Vlechugi zad computera (Reptiles behind the computer), by Borislav Zyumbyulev. Bulgarian readers can find the text of the article e.g. at http://www.pressboard.info/Preview.aspx?articleid=88783. At http://marfieta.files.wordpress.com/2007/07/447498_orig.jpg, Marfa has uploaded a scanned image of the original publication. You can see that it occupies an entire A3 newspaper page and is illustrated by a photo of a cobra.
24 chasa (24 hours) is the second most popular daily newspaper in Bulgaria after Trud and has the same publisher, featured in my July 9, 2006 post. There is some division of labour between the two papers, Trud pretending to be more "intellectual" and 24 chasa more "popular". As commenter Hassi wrote on Grancharov's blog, a fairly typical reader of 24 chasa is an old gentleman "who cannot use a computer and hasn't the slightest idea of this technology, but knows that his 25-year-old granddaughter regularly writes in Internet".
The article author Zyumbyulev isn't an ordinary journalist but a Deputy Editor-in-chief. It is not quite clear why he dislikes Internet so much. Some bloggers speculate that he may have entered a Web forum anonymously and other participants have scorned him. Others think that the reason is the abundant criticism in the Web to his newspaper (see e.g. an article titled 24 chasa or the misery of journalism at http://e-vestnik.bg/1429).
I cannot quite understand why Zyumbyulev called Web forum participants "black". With the exception of an occasional student or soccer player, there are no black people in Bulgaria. The only subpopulation with darker skin (though far from being black) are the Gypsies, and whatever other sins they may have, they don't use Internet. So I come to the explanation that Zyumbyulev, similarly to some fairy tales, uses black as a symbol of evil.
I am aware that translating and posting almost the entire text of an article without informed consent by the author and the publisher is a violation of copyright. However, I hope that the utmost importance of the text in question allows my post to arguably qualify for the "fair use" label. After all, if a Bulgarian scientist discovers that some food component used by billions of people is very harmful, isn't it a duty of every decent person with the required linguistic skills to rush, translate and publish the findings? And what's the difference if the discovery is about Internet, which is indeed used by billions? The world must be informed about its dangers. So read, learn and enjoy!
Title: Reptiles behind the computer
Subtitle on red background: Short, black and village-born is the anonymous creep from the Internet forums. Anonymity in the Web devastates the personality and will be the main psychological problem during the following 30 years
Author: Borislav Zyumbyulev
Malice in Internet is so mighty that if somebody manages to convert it into megawatts, its energy will be enough for all light bulbs in Bulgaria to illuminate for at least 77 years. Most writings in Web forums are negative, directed against other participants or against some phenomenon in our life... When the text is about people, they are State Security agents, thugs, good-for-nothing and fools. There isn't a single decent person in this country. This is especially true about people who are popular. Everybody who is widely known or popular in fact is just a boar who deserves his blood to be sucked in a very painful way.
Let's not discuss popular politicians like Boyko Borisov or Georgi Parvanov and take as an example (popular TV show host) Slavi Trifonov. Slavi's concerts over a single summer have been attended by 200,000 people. However, in Web forums you cannot find a single well-intentioned word about him - only malice. It is evident that those who gloat over Slavi becoming blind have in fact bought tickets for his concerts. But they fall into some bizarre Internet schizophrenia.
In their normal lives, when these people haven't accepted nicknames, they almost look normal and don't call fool everybody they meet. But at the moment when they enter the little square, their faces distort as in a second-quality Hollywood movie and they turn into terrible zombies, plain scoundrels and reptiles.
What is the cause of this mass personality split? "Writers in forums are people with complexes, unsatisfied by their lives," explains behavioural psychologist Ray Cavallino from Boston University (not sure about the name spelling; I failed to find Dr. Cavallino in the Boston University Web site - M.M.). "Anonymity gives them courage which they lack in real life. It allows them to feel important, even if for a short time. To feel like people whose opinion matters. Unfortunately, nobody reads their opinions and Internet is a giant psychoanalytical monologue. Chatter of creeps," as Cavallino has called his study on the anonymous swear-words in Internet.
"Even the most innocent subject discussed, such as growing radish or breast-feeding, quickly turns into malicious, libelous and full of personal attacks against some participant in the forum...," writes psycholinguist Lance Winslow. According to Winslow, Internet communication resembles swear-words at an elementary school lunch: if a teacher doesn't interfere, things inevitably escalate to fighting...
"The anonymous author in forums resembles the anonymous murderer. He deprives himself of his personality... in order to carry out his criminal intent," says Boyko Ganchevski, an expert in criminal psychology. Ganchevski points out that not every forum user is a future murderer or has strong criminal motivation, he rather vents his complexes... But the personality split mechanism is the same as in murderers: evil is done with impunity and without burdening the conscience by taking another personality, under cover.
According to Winslow, anonymity and the weeds of malice and baseness in Internet corrode the tissue of human civilization. Because "even most oppressive regimes don't allow arbitrary insults between individuals... We don't know what will the situation be in 30 years, what will happen to mankind, after everyone is allowed to insult everyone else with impunity and to pour whatever libel he likes," wonders Winslow. He finds it the most important field of psychological research in the near future.
Will Internet anonymity change human personality? Will there be an epidemic of schizophrenia in the streets, after this is already the norm in the Web?...
Who is writing in the forums? Bulgarian Internet service providers say that the number of these people is limited - not more than 1500-2000, according to an analysis of their IP addresses... The opinion that Internet is the media of the young is wrong. Young people go to sites for dating, music, movies and other teenagers' entertainment activities. In the "serious" forums people are middle-aged and older. They have accumulated much frustration.
There are several types of know-alls. The first can be called Reptile - short, black and village-born subjects. They have survived a number of misfortunes and are the first in their families to do the village-to-town civilizational transition. Because of this feat, they live with the feeling that the world is their debtor. This leads to painful careerism combined with a lack of realistic personal self-estimate and typical village laziness... We call them reptiles because their writings are most venomous, the evil is most evident. In fact, these people need specialized medical help because of their sociopathy which often has dramatic consequences. They abandon their families, become alcoholics, commit domestic violence.
The other type is the Sad Gay. This group includes many women. Here, the frustration is a consequence of ambiguous sexuality, several failed attempts to lose weight, miserable personal life, acne, oily hair. Especially aggressive are the homosexual guys who have a double life - they photograph themselves in the company of naked female models but dream of butts of young boys. Neurosis is sure and soon comes bipolar personality disorder.
The third main type is the Professional Informer. The former State Security is believed to have had about 300 000 professional and volunteer agents in the early 1980s. Not all of them are now in the business elite... It may be just a coincidence but most of the newly created Bulgarian news sites and blogs have some connection to the former State Security Committee...
Hidden in the Web, the anonymous creep can be found out only with special skills and a lot of efforts. Therefore, he gets away (with whatever he is writing). This perhaps gives him joy but it ruins his psyche.
The anonymous scoundrel is in fact a seriously ill person who deserves pity. "This aggression has been accumulated for millenia, since human race began to socialize. Barriers have been erected to spontaneity. These barriers fall in the darkness of Internet... The aggression typical for Internet is generalized, claiming that everyone is stupid. It is pathological, a symptom of neurotic behaviour similarly to sadism and masochism. It needs help," says psycho-analyst Madlen Algafari.