You look up when you feel the need for elevation. And I look down because I am elevated. Who among you can laugh and be elevated at the same time? Whoever climbs the highest mountains laughs at all the tragic plays and tragic seriousness…
I would only believe in a god who could dance. And when I saw my devil I found him serious, thorough, profound, and solemn: it was the spirit of gravity—through him all things fall. Not by wrath does one kill but by laughter. Come, let us kill the spirit of gravity!
-Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra, 1883-1891
Like Nietzsche’s ubermensch, the cultural transgressors of the internet revel in mocking, belittling, and desecrating the values of the dominant culture and in doing so derive a sense of superiority. To take things seriously is to conform; to laugh in the face of seriousness is to resist. Whereas reddit tries to balance between ‘the spirit of gravity’ (i.e. seriousness) and laughter (through the use of ‘serious tags’ and different standards for posting depending on the subreddit), 4chan’s content is presumed to be a priori un-serious. 4chan’s modus operandi is the lulz: a perversion of schadenfreude in which the perpetrator delights in causing the emotional distress of others. The logic of the lulz dictates that those who cannot handle the emotional stress inflicted upon them are naturally weak; the perpetrator’s strength is derived from his immunity to such harassment. However, while following rule 20 sometimes results in insidiousness, it can also provide fertile ground for humour.