I had an account at Something Awful, which I used sometimes to post in threads about my comic.4chan had been created by a 15 year old Something Awful user named Christopher Poole (whose 4chan mod name was “m00t”).Poole had adapted a type of Japanese bulletin board software which was difficult to understand at first, but once learned, was far more fun to post in than the traditional American format used by S.
To those with a passing knowledge of 4chan it’s strange to think of it having a value system.
(Much to the dismay of its millions of users, who tried in vain desperation to keep it a secret.)The key to 4chan’s popularity (and what distinguished it from its progenitor Something Awful) was the Japanese bulletin board Poole had adapted for English use.
People had so much fun using it, threads became ephemeral, growing wildly within seconds, then disappearing minutes later, pushed out of the way and into oblivion by new threads and so forth 24/7. At the time, one of the few places you saw memes was there.
And indeed it did try its mightiest to be nihilistic, to hate, to deny, to shrug, to laugh off everything as a joke like all teenage boys do (the board was mostly young men). The attempts to be “random”, like a Rorschach test, painted a portrait of exactly who they were, the voids filled in with their identity, their interests, their tastes.
The result was that 4chan had a culture as complex as any other society of millions of people, anonymous or no.