i came across boxxy in january of 2009 while personally entrenched in the darkness of youtube, deep in the midst of my research as a camwhore
. i came to her a bit late in internet time but was able to catch up on her story
and was just in time to witness the downfall of this queen of /b/.
immediately, i was fascinated. first because she had brought down 4chan (if only temporarily) and started a civil war amongst them. and also because i related to her. i had gone through a few periods of being trolled by 4chan and was advised by anon fans to ignore this attention or it would get worse. i began to see my experience, boxxy's experience, not as rare occurrences but as becoming more and more the norm for young women on the internet. i wondered why were personas, like boxxy's, such a big deal to 4chan?
even though her story is over two years old, the boxxy phenomenon is still the most relevant meme to date (sorry rickrollers) because of the way it highlighted an extreme dichotomy of opinion on the internet. the question here is not HOW boxxy started a civil war amongst the btards—because she herself had very little control over this situation— but what was it about boxxy that got 4chan so riled up?
boxxy's reign reflects a shifting paradigm in our culture that has to do with how the internet is changing the traits we value in people. the internet has fostered a sense of openness by allowing individuals to self broadcast. however, the boxxy dichotomy here is that many users fear this ability is leading to the "feminization" of our culture.
this feminization comes out of the idea of the "camwhore." it is a female trait, and as one user on urban dictionary defines it, a camwhore is:
Originally defined as girls who take infinite pictures of themselves being, the term has now also included girls who broadcast live or vlog on a regular basis (adapting to newer technology.)
Girls, usually of high school age, broadcast themselves in live and recorded video in an attempt to be showered with compliments by online strangers in a chat or comments section with things like "omg you’re so hot." This method allows the girl to feed her incredible natural insecurities without having to be face to face with online stalkers.
during boxxy's reign 4chan became divided, mainly between "oldfags" who hated boxxy because of her camwhoreishness and "newfags" who loved her because of it. oldfags (who, for our purposes, let's say are btards over 16 and newfags can be under 16) saw boxxy's camwhoriness as a troll, by putting herself out there in an outlandish way to gain attention. oldfags saw her methods in releasing videos as calculated, and intended to continue to cause disruption within 4chan. they also couldnt understand why someone would want to act so idiotically so publicly. she must be desperate. desperation is gross.
boxxy's presence perpetuated this desperation beyond herself and newfags were validating it by loving her, affirming her presence by defending her. she set off a storm of other young btards to act the way she was acting— like a camwhore, without humility, without shame. even haters fueled the boxxy fire by posting their own camwhoreish videos.
the most traditional of the oldfags simply wanted all the hype around boxxy to end. this was the only way to end the "cancer" that boxxy was spreading. an anon group, CBCR, posted some videos after they hacked boxxy's YT account in which they wrote:
we are not happy with what you have done to us. the cancer which you have spread across the web is now over. never create another video again.
for oldfags, the wars, the comments, the videos, in the end, reaffirmed her existence as a camwhore. all attention is welcomed by the camwhore.
this attention seeking is disgusting to oldfags, who take pride in attributes like humility and dignity. but for newfags, these are becoming outdated values. why be humble and invisible when you can show the world who you "really" are? dont hide yourself—flaunt it. people will love you and as a result will come to love others like you, and love themselves more as a result—so long as we are all open.
the newfag way is utopian in this sense. older values which suggested that women who act this way are "whores" and men who acts this way are "gay" begin to disappear as we all embrace our inner camwhore and are willing to be more open. this openness could potentially lead to the disappearance of biases toward race, gender and sexual orientation, as we all come to realize—hey we are the same—-we have tons in common (like a love for lolcats).
a new sense of social transparency could be nice. however, what we are getting on the internet, is not exactly transparency. it is a performed transparency or more precisely, individuals performing with the intention of seeming transparent in an effort to cultivate love/attention.
are we all really so goddamn lonely?
no, i dont think we are. but we, especially as women, have been taught our self worth comes from the validation from others. and now, in a culture where being watched validates ones existence (via fb, yt, reality tv, etc), this mindset is spreading to men as well.
newfags fought for the normalization of camwhore behavior for both genders. oldfags resist this tendency and believe in a sense of personal privacy. but as we all know, personal privacy is quickly disappearing. and while oldfags are trying their best to stop this seemingly inevitable outcome by championing anonymity, newfags embrace it by capitalizing on this system for their own benefit. the only problem for newfags is that unfortunately, the promise of capitalizing on this system is far larger than the reality of it. and what has ended up occurring, and what will continue to occur, is that people will continually be harvested for their information, their creative output and their ideas without much in return, except for the promise of microfame.
and unfortunately, as we continue to fight for this limited amount of attention awarded to a few people, we will continually need to resort to standard tropes of attention getting. for women, this includes using our bodies and/or our sex appeal. boxxy was a rare exception to this. her infiltration of a forum whose mantra for women is "tits of gtfo" is especially noteworthy because she showed newfags how to cultivate attention without resorting to dehumanizing tactics. in the newfag's dream—that is the utopia.