March 9, 2001, Memphis, Tennessee: Marvin Entriken was distraught to find out at 3:00 am this morning that he had been shunned from his favorite chat-room after a heartfelt confession to one of the other members. Entriken, speaking from the "apartment" he rents in his grandmother’s basement, reported that the incident "totally sucked".
"I was in the John Hughes Appreciation chat-room when it happened," Entriken, a twenty-eight year old telemarketer, explained. "That’s where I normally am after midnight on weekend nights. It’s a great chat that my friend ‘HeavyCruiser68' started about a year ago. Cruiser and I met in another chatroom, one about Klingon Linguistics in the corporate world. I still go there now and then, but not like I used to." Pausing to wipe a bit of saliva from the corner of his mouth, Entriken continued, "I was really close to ‘Wet-n-WildGurl’ on the Klingon chat for a few months, but we’ve drifted apart now. I think I offended her with one of my remarks about Data."
Politely guided back to the subject at hand, Entriken said, "right, so I was talking with the normal crew in the Hughes room, and there was kind of a lull, you know. Well, I’ve kept this dark little secret for quite a while and never had the guts to tell my on-line friends about it." Entriken fidgeted in his seat and continued, "For some reason–-I wish I hadn’t now–-I decided to confide in them and open up. ‘KoolKat-G’ had just responded to ‘2Cool4U’ by typing ‘LMAO’, so I just kind of piped up and said ‘hey guys, I’ve never told anyone this before, but I really don’t know what all those acronyms mean.’"
It took Entriken several minutes to realize the horrible cyber-faux pas he’d just committed. "At first there was just more dead air," he explained. "Then ‘Goatboy74' typed ‘LOL, LOL’ and a smiley face. After a moment I realized they thought I was joking." Entriken shook his head in disgust and continued, "I should have realized at that point, I guess, but I persisted and said, ‘no really...what does that mean: LOL?’"
Tapping idly on his keyboard, Entriken went on to explain, "I mean, I see it all the time, you know, so I can figure out by the context that it means something like ‘that’s funny’ or ‘good one’, but I just wanted to know literally what the letters stood for, you know." His voice almost pleading now, the portly telemarketer added, "I thought they were my friends. I thought they’d be understanding and let me in on their secret."
Instead, Entriken reported through moistening eyes, the group shunned him. Within two short minutes, he had received messages from each of the other members notifying him that he was being "ignored", effectively evicting him from the chatroom altogether. "It was terrible," Entriken said, his voice shaky. "I tried to reason with them, but my messages just bounced back unread. It was like I didn’t exist to them anymore."
The distraught young internet enthusiast was still seated in front of his computer, sobbing softly and caressing the keyboard, as this reporter backed slowly up the stairs and saw himself out the front door, stopping briefly to politely decline the rock candy offered by Entriken’s grandmother.