How To Explain the Internet to People Who Don’t Live There

Let’s be honest: It’s a scary world out there. Climate change. Global political unrest. A billionaire corporate class wielding late-stage capitalism as a weapon to strip both the planet and humanity at large of its lifeblood. Bears. But all of that put together doesn’t even touch the unhinged moral depravity planted in the nightmare garden that is the internet. As a constant visitor to this terrorscape, you are cursed with arcane and disgusting knowledge no human should ever know a piece of. And yet you know most of it. And as a keeper of that knowledge, it is your divine duty to protect the rest of humanity. Unfortunately, humanity is curious, and fighting back the darkness can be hard when dumbfuck people keep opening the door. Let’s take a look at how quickly things can spiral out of control:


Trudy (currently working as a dental hygienist but actually making the bulk of her income drawing furry porn): Oh, hi, Aunt Louise!

Aunt Louise: Trudy, there you are! I was just telling Phyllis you’re on the internet a lot. She says her son is on a website called Read-It or something, all the time, and she was wondering if you know anything about that.

Trudy: Sure, I know about Reddit. See, it’s made up of smaller communities called-

Aunt Louise: Phyllis says her son is always talking about red pills.

Trudy:…he what now.

Aunt Louise: Yes, its definitely red pills. And he’s on a lot of different communities called circlejerks? What are those?

Trudy: Um…

Aunt Louise: And he loves that fellow Joe Rogan!

Trudy: Let me ask you something. Does he have a lot of dating apps but never actually goes on dates?

Aunt Louise: Yes! It’s terrible. He sends those girls lovely pictures, too

Trudy: Long sigh that lasts roughly ten seconds. Okay, I’m going to tell you what an ‘incel’ is, mostly so you’ll understand why Phyllis has a duty to kill her son.


Do you see the traps Trudy fell into? A simple conversation about a large internet hellhole quickly turned into her having to use her physical mouth and English words to put the definition out into the atmosphere for everyone to hear. Do you think it ended well? Or do you think both Louise and Phyllis denied what Trudy was telling them and the only thing that came of this conversation was Trudy getting bombarded with pictures of Phyllis’ son’s dick? You know the answer.

So, let’s go through some easy to remember steps to get out of this minefield your well-meaning relatives have stuck you in without blowing the whole house up.

Step One: Determine (the Kind of Non-Internet User You’re Speaking To)

“But Random Internet Person, aren’t all Non-Internet Users the same?” you ask, like a fool. A pitiful, pathetic fool. When dealing with the IRL masses, you are going to find two separate kinds of Non-Internet Users:

The Actual Never On the Internet People

As it gets increasingly impossible to function without some kind of internet access, these people are increasingly rare. Just like most afflictions, this is mostly going to affect the very young and the very old. Babies and great-grandparents, at this point, because even your three-year-old niece Avalon has a god damned tablet and while I know this whole article is about how you shouldn’t be talking to Non-Internet Users about the internet, you might want to look at little Avalon’s YouTube history and make sure she didn’t get sucked into that algorithm that swarms kids with those videos about Spider-Man getting Elsa pregnant, and explain to your brother how to restrict that shit.

This means the only true Non-Internet Users out there are your great-grandparents, and honestly, tell them whatever you want. You great-grandma Jean is 95, you think she hasn’t seen some shit? You really think her first husband died in a ladder accident? Because she straight up told me she killed him to stop him from beating on her. She spent the sixties and seventies in Haight-Ashbury for Christ’s sake. Tell her all about the darkest corners you’ve tripped over, not only will she not clutch her pearls she’ll probably one-up you with her second honeymoon in Phuket.

Essentially, the people who are actually never on the internet are not your problem. Your problem is…

The People Who Think They Are on the Internet, But Are Actually Only Skimming the Surface

These people are the actual trouble, because they think they know. They think, because they have a Facebook and a Gmail and buy stuff off Amazon, they have some sort of insight to what the internet actually is. They’re bobbing along on the surface on a floaty-tube made of pictures of their neighbors’ dogs and drinking up craft websites full of viruses and they don’t even know the miles and miles of dark terror that lies beneath them.

They are tricky, because they will engage you like they know what they’re talking about, and you only realize they don’t when you utter the word ‘monsterfuckers’ and you can see the light in their eyes has grown just a little bit dimmer. They have lost something they didn’t even know they had. Something they can never get back.

You see, keeping these people in the dark about the depths of the internet isn’t only for your health, it’s for theirs, too. Trying to explain the internet means psychic damage for everyone in hearing range.

Okay, now that we know the sort of people we are up against, let’s look at the strategy to keep our arcane knowledge to ourselves.

Step Two: Deny

This is going to be your biggest tool. The internet is a big place, something everyone understands. So big, even you as a constant scuba diver into the terrifying corals of broken moral compasses and anonymity, haven’t seen it all. We all pick our corners and stay there, occasionally hissing at passersby if they come too close to our little mudhole. The key here is that Non-Internet Users must never know which corner is your corner, that way you can constantly deny that you know anything about any of it. Let’s look at that party example again:


Trudy (currently the moderator of a subreddit called r/shitdimension, that started out as all shitposts and memes supposedly from a neighboring dimension called the Shittiest Dimension but has since turned into a place where plumbers come to bitch about their jobs): Oh, hi, Aunt Louise!

Aunt Louise: Trudy, there you are! I was just telling Phyllis you’re on the internet a lot. She says her son is on a website called Read-It or something, all the time, and she was wondering if you know anything about that.

Trudy: Oh, I don’t go on Reddit.

Aunt Louise: I thought all you kids-

Trudy: Nope, not me. Never even heard of it. Edit, you said?


Good job, Trudy! Do you see what she did there? She lied. Just like on the internet, you can lie in real life, too! It might be a little harder, but honestly, it’s not as hard as you think.

Sometimes, these people will come at you with some tidbit from the internet that somehow made its way to them. You know, some meme or video or internet drama that you saw two to four weeks ago when it was fresh. A fight on Twitter, an explosion on LiveLeak, something basic like that. Then it got shifted around through all the major websites, then it got shifted around to all the news websites, and then it inevitably ended up in the internet’s toilet: Facebook. By the time your Aunt Louise is shoving her phone at you, that same meme has been deep fried and julienned, and is now covered with ifunny watermarks, that little Pinterest symbol in the corner, three separate reddit borders, and it looks like it lost a lot of pixels along the way, and of course she’s not pulling just the picture up, so you’re trying to look at a tiny version of it sandwiched between a message from her pastor reminding everyone to bring punch to the ‘retro’ sockhop the church is having that Friday and some poll her neighbor posted about how early is too early for dogs to be barking, and after squinting at it long enough for the tectonic plates under you feet to shift you realize that in all this game of telephone what actually made the meme funny has been lost and now its just words on an image.

What do you do? Do you try to correct Aunt Louise? Or perhaps show her the meme in its original format?

NO. Idiot. Are you even listening? You lie. You lie like your life depends on it. Because do you know what you have to bring up to fully explain the history behind that meme? KPop Stans and the term ‘mukbang.’ Do you really want to look your loving Aunt in the eyes and try to explain any of that shit? Of course you don’t. Let’s take a look and see how Trudy does.


Trudy (currently working on her twenty-seventh BTS fanfiction on AO3, this one including tags such as ‘slow burn,’ ‘whump,’ and ‘mpreg’): Oh, hi, Aunt Louise!

Aunt Louise: Trudy, there you are! You’re on the internet a lot, have you seen this meme?

Trudy: No, I haven’t. Oh. That’s very funny. Hahaha.


Lie. For the love of everything holy and unholy in this dimension and others, fucking lie.

Step Three: Deflect

Here’s the third step to never talking about the internet out loud: change the god damned subject. To be prepared for this, its best to think of two or three safe subjects you can discuss instead of describing the multicolored carnival of nightmares that is the true internet. Let’s see what Trudy came up with.


Trudy (currently ignoring her profiles on Tinder, Bumble, OKCupid, and Match because she knows if she opens any of them its going to be an explosion of blurry dick pics): Oh, hi, Aunt Louise!

Aunt Louise: Trudy, there you are! You’re on the internet a lot, aren’t you? I saw something on the news about Doggiecoin, do you know about that?

Trudy: No, I can honestly say I’ve never heard of Doggiecoin.

Aunt Louise: Well my friend Phyllis says her sons says they should invest and-

Trudy: Hey, Aunt Louise, did you hear about what went on at the Whole Foods?

Aunt Louise: I knnoooow. I can’t believe he managed to shove that much cheese down his pants!


Good work, Trudy! Everyone knows there’s so much trashy shit going down at the Whole Foods you don’t even have to pick a specific situation! Let’s move on to our next step, which is…

Step Four: FUCKING RUN

This is the most important step. Some people are stubborn, and just because you’ve changed the subject doesn’t mean it won’t go back. You need to get out of there as fast as you can to avoid that possibility. Try to have an exit strategy in mind, but if all else fails and you can’t get away before the topic of the internet comes back up, do whatever you can to escape. Don’t worry about the consequences of your actions. Remember, the most critical part of this moment is to stay away from the internet, and the costs of that can never be too high. Let’s take a look at what Trudy does.


Trudy (currently getting ratioed on Twitter because a bunch of random internet sexists, potentially including Phyllis’s son, found her positive tweet about Captain Marvel): Oh, hi, Aunt Louise!

Aunt Louise: Trudy, there you are! You’re on the internet a lot, aren’t you? I saw something on the news about Doggiecoin, do you know about that?

Trudy: No, I can honestly say I’ve never heard of Doggiecoin.

Aunt Louise: Well my friend Phyllis says her sons says they should invest and-

Trudy: Hey, Aunt Louise, did you hear about what went on at the Whole Foods?

Aunt Louise: I knnoooow. I can’t believe he managed to shove that much cheese down his pants! Anyway, about Doggiecoin-

Trudy: Oh, I, um…wait, is that a tornado siren?

Aunt Louise: I don’t hear-

Trudy: I’m too young to die!

(Trudy sprints out of the party and races to her car, where she speeds off down the street and ignores all the calls from her aunt and mother while she safely procures Taco Bell for self-soothing purposes).


Excellent thinking, Trudy! Remember, its easier to handle pissed off family members after the fact than horrified and mentally broken family members in the moment.

So the next time you’re stuck at a party and suddenly your friend’s kindhearted, naïve girlfriend is standing in front of you asking if you know anything about this Sherlock Holmes fan art she found where Sherlock and John were very, very round, you know what to do:

  1. Determine
  2. Deny
  3. Deflect
  4. FUCKING RUN

With these easy to remember steps, you, too, can be a proud protector of the outside world from the internet.


This wasn’t consciously inspired by Bo Burnham’s ‘Welcome to the Internet’ song, but…come on. The timing is too perfect. Clearly my brain did a thing.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: