We do not forgive. We do not forget. Expect Us.”
On Halloween, when I was a kid, there was no “trick or treat.” just trick, nasty and mean.
* Stuff mailboxes with dead leaves.
* Find clothes drying on a back yard line. Yank down, trample.
* Find a windowsill with a cooling freshly baked pie. Toss dirt on it.
* Scrape up dog turd, wrap in newspaper, drop at a front door, light with a match, ring bell, vanish into the dark to watch someone open the door, stomp the burning turd.
Just kids having fun.
“We Are Anonymous,” by London journalist, Parmy Olson, follows a shifting coalition of so-called “hackers” who hang out in online chat rooms, form loose alliances for “pranks,” and sometimes rattle the “real” world,
One victim was Westboro Community Church, a Kansas fringe group infamous for jeering at funerals of soldiers. Anonymous defaced its web site, Godhatesfags.com. Other victims included The Church of Scientology. PBS, SONY, CIA, and Lybia. They also stole credit cards, yet money was not the motivation. It was for lulz, fun from making others feel bad, a cousin of the German Schadenfreude, pleasure derived from the misfortunes of another—the Halloween imp 365 days a year.
An 19-year-old male named William, posing as a 16-year old girl, sent a 17-year old boy a photo of “her” breasts (easily obtained from porn sites,) asking for a photo of his penis. When it came, William pasted it on his victim’s mother’s Facebook wall with the message, “Hi Mom. Here’s a picture of my cock.”
Just kids having fun.
The book concentrates on Topiary, a 16-year old boy from the Shetland Islands off the coast of England. Kayla, who assumed the identity of a 16-year-old girl, but turned out to be 25, ex-British army from South Yorkshire, and Sabu, a late 20s New Yorker who learned computers in high school, got online and stayed, also marrying and having kids. Their name is from a grandiose tagline: “We are Anonymous. We Are Legion, We do not forgive. We do not forget. Expect Us.”
Author, Parmy Olsen, calls Anonymous “more of ... an idea than a group.” It’s like a street gang with chat rooms as turf. The general public, police, and press, assume it is organized when in reality it’s an amorphous shifting assemblage of mostly young males, intelligent but disaffected, who spend much of their time online. They come together for particular pranks after which they may dissolve, perhaps to return for something else later.
It is likely that few understand the Internet better than those who spend most of their time on it. And it is so rapidly developing that no one can predict what it will be like in as few as five years. Governments are already using it for war. Can anyone doubt that some future Anonymous-like group will discover such tools and use them for whatever purposes that occur or pranks they wish to play?