I am a girl on the internet. Yes, I said it. A girl on the internet. There really are quite a few of us. I can type. I can play games with the best of you. And you, my friend, are about to get owned by a girl.

I’ve been watching and observing the internet for quite some time now. It’s like a science project with the usual control and variables. The control is: I am a girl. The variables are the medium through which this fact is expressed. The results all point to the same paradoxical conclusion: I am a girl, but girls do not exist on the internet.

Case 1: Adventures in IRC

[boy1] Teleios is a girl.
[boy2] omg, r u serious?
[boy1] yup, i heard her on vent.
[boy2] omg pics, now.
[Teleios] No.
[boy1] c’mon. you’re not a girl if u don’t show us pics.
[Teleios] I am a girl.
[boy2] then show us a pic.
[Teleios] no.
[boy1] teleios is probably a guy using a voice thing cuz she won’t show a pic.
[boy2] ya, there are no girls on the intarweb.

The above is an actual log from an IRC channel I frequent. This isn’t just a regular run of the mill IRC channel, this is the channel where a large number of the players from my World of Warcraft server spend their time when at work, or during weekly maintenance, or just to complain to the other faction when they are dealing with gankage.

This is the story of my internet life. (I’m not quite sure if it’s a good or bad thing that I have an internet life, but internet life it is.) I’m a girl, I play games and I exist on the internet. Or so you think. Time after time, I get told I’m not a girl and that I don’t exist. It’s happened so much that I’m beginning to think that it’s true.

So, I spend some time getting to know them. Who are these mysterious creatures called girls if they don’t exist on the internet? What does this mean for the men of the internet?

[boy3] teleios you gurl, pix plz?
[boy3] kthxxb ai

It becomes more apparent to me that this is a real issue. Why is it I cannot be a girl if I don’t show my picture? As time goes on, I get more confused. The idea of having guys obsess over the fact that a girl will not show her picture means one thing for men of the internet: They are desperate.

Case 2: In-Game Meanderings

I come home from work one night and I log into my drug of choice, World of Warcraft. It’s late, and I want to kill. I try to maintain a low profile because sometimes being a girl on the internet gets a bit troublesome. The immature comments from the kids (“will u go out with me”) and the “omg, she’s an internet whore” from everyone else gets to be a bit too much. But having too many friends makes it impossible to keep the secret.

I receive an in-game tell. “Hey Teleios, would you like to run Stratholme with us, we need a priest.” I reread it, scrutinizing every last detail. I’m a priest; I get a lot of group invites. Most of them get turned down. This guy, however, has proper grammar and asks nicely – well, he asked, period. It wasn’t just a random group invite. I’m poor and could use a bit more coin, so I decided to give it a go. I respond to him, “Sure, why not?” We head to Stratholme.

Someone says something about Johnny Depp’s character in Pirates of the Carribean, Captain Jack Sparrow, and I respond with “hehe Jack Sparrow is hot.” The conversation in party chat follows:

[Warrior]: omg wtf dude are you gay or something?
[Rogue]: yeah dude, that’s sick
[Teleios]: I’m a girl. I can think guys are hot.
[Nice Guy with Good Grammar]: Woah, you’re a girl. That surprises me, you are actually a good priest. No one has died.
[Teleios]: Well yeah, girls can play games and be good you know.
[Shaman]: wow there’s a girl playing horde. Most girls are so insecure they have to play alliance to make themselves pretty.
[Teleios]: Well obviously that’s not a problem for me. I like my priest as she is.
[Rogue]: can I see ur pic plz?
[Teleios]: no.
[Warrior]: come on why not? [Teleios]: I don’t show my pic to random people.
[Rogue]: ur not a girl.
[Teleios]: That’s right, girls don’t exist on the internet, or play games.
[Warrior]: at least not hot ones, they are all fat and stupid
[Teleios]: That’s not very nice.
[Shaman]: If you are a girl, you’re probably not hot either.
[Rogue]: can we go, teleios isn’t a girl they won’t show pic [Nice Guy with Good Grammar]: Yeah, I don’t believe it either. Probably someone just fishing for free stuff.

Again, a girl who doesn’t show her picture on the internet is not a girl and the only girls on the internet are actually guys who are just trying to get free stuff. Don’t get me wrong, I have gotten free stuff before, but I don’t solicit it. Not like those “girls” who sit around dancing for tips in game. You know who you are, and you know you’re not a real girl. Real girls don’t exist on the internet.

Case 3: The Instant Message

I have befriended boys. We really just play the game together. It’s nice to have someone I can always do something with, or bug if another person is needed in game, or even just someone to talk to when I don’t have anything else I can do. Boy 4 and I are chatting about random nonsensical things. We talk about people in game and whether they look like expected upon seeing real life pictures. I show him my picture. The following conversation occurs:

Teleios: *link to my picture*
Boy 4: omg wtf
Teleios: uh….
Boy 4: Is that you?
Teleios: Um, yeah.
Boy 4: wtf. Really?
Teleios: Yeah.

Once the pictures actually come out, the result is shock followed by denial and disbelief. The boys have a tendency to think it’s really someone’s sister or a random picture found on the internet, but not who I really am. Remember, girls don’t exist on the internet.

Case 4: Teamspeak and Ventrilo

Here’s where the real test comes in. Teamspeak and Ventrilo are commonly used voice communication programs. I’m not afraid to get on one, but for the longest time I was afraid to talk.

A few months back, I joined a rather large raiding guild in WoW. Ventrilo was required for raiding, to allow for better organization and quicker communication. I didn’t have a problem with logging on and listening, but I was very nervous about talking. There is one other girl in the guild who refuses to talk, and I very quickly learned why. A girl talking on a voice communication program results in the same accusation every time: It’s a big facade.

I made the mistake of speaking one day, out of the blue. I didn’t give any warning to anyone, and this was in the middle of a boss fight during the raid. The main tank calls out, “Teleios, heal me,” to which I responded, “Okay, I got you.” I didn’t even think about it, but what was to follow was perhaps one of the most comical online experiences I’ve ever had in my internet life.

“Who was that?”
“Was that Teleios?”
“No, it couldn’t have been.”
“Whose girlfriend was that?”
“Get your girlfriend off Vent!”

The voices were coming from all directions. People got loud, people were talking on top of each other, the channel got laggy from all the chaos. Raid members were dying because people stopped paying attention. No one was really sure who had spoken. I very suddenly got flooded with in game tells: “Was that you?” I didn’t reply to any, I just kept my mouth shut, very quickly realizing my mistake. A few people took it to the next level, making some extremely harsh comments about girls, and girls playing the game. I didn’t talk for the rest of the raid. It’s not uncommon for guys to make their girlfriends speak when a lot of people are listening. I figured I could play it off, but I got confronted by the guild master.

“Was that you?” he asked.
“Yeah, it was,” I replied.
“I’m really sorry everyone freaked out, I don’t think they are very used to having a girl around.”
“It’s okay, I should have known better than to speak.”
“Well, actually, I wanted to ask you something.”
“Oh?” I asked with interest.
“Yeah, I was just wondering if you could speak on Ventrilo more often. I really think it would help everyone if they heard you talk more often. Then they could get used to the fact that you are a girl. Maybe then they will be a bit mature.”
“I guess I can, but I’m not going to take any crap from anyone.”
“It’s okay, I understand.”

I wasn’t exactly sure how to respond to this request. The guild master was asking me to talk more so boys could get used to hearing a girl on Ventrilo. Since then, more “girls” have joined the guild, and I’m not the only girl that speaks anymore. The reactions still don’t cease to amaze me, and whenever a new person joins and hears me speak, I can envision the double take they make, indicated by the long silence after I speak.

Of course, most “girls” on Ventrilo are simply just guys using voice translators or having their sisters and girlfriends speak for them. Girls don’t exist on the internet.

Case 5: Meeting In Person

I’ve met a boy from the internet in person before. The only problem was I don’t think he was able to actually verify that I was a girl. Reason being, he never looked at me. It really bothers me when people don’t give me eye contact while talking to them, and he spent the entire adventure staring at the ground. I like to talk; I could talk for hours. But I can’t talk to the top of someone’s head. Am I really that scary? Or was the boy just afraid to face the truth that I am a girl? Maybe he was just trying to perpetuate the notion that girls don’t exist on the internet, and as long as he stared at his shoes, his zealous beliefs were justified. Well, the proof that I am a girl on the internet is long gone now. His inability to scientifically evaluate the situation invariably means he’ll return to his friends with the all-so-popular conclusion: Girls do not exist on the internet.

I also meet people at E3 and various other conferences. I go to these conferences and I enjoy myself, but I’ve noticed that very few people actually talk to me. It’s almost as if there’s a giant bubble around me or I’m completely invisible. Wherever I go, the crowd splits or I’m not seen at all, and someone comes running into me, knocking me over.

I’ll try and wave at someone and get no recognition. I’ll walk up to someone and say, “Hey, what’s the PvP like in this game?” The presenter will look at me in shock for a minute, whisper to a friend and then attempt to explain to me what PVP is. I know what PVP is; otherwise I wouldn’t have asked the question.

I live in a bubble where the internet does not exist and am invisible in places pertaining to the web. I do not know what PvP is and I’ve never touched a first person shooter before. Why must I be treated like I am ignorant to gaming and the internet? The answer is simply that girls do not exist on the internet.

The Summary

My adventures on the internet have led me to learn many things about myself. I’m not a girl and I do not exist on the internet. I do not play games and do not know how to turn on my computer. I did not build my own PC, nor did I buy a video game. I do not own a headset and do not play first person shooters and MMOGs. My life on the internet is an intricate, well planned lie.

When I look at myself, I see a girl on the internet and a girl with an internet life. I see a girl who loves to play games and kill the dirty Alliance faction in WoW. I see a girl who can bunny hop with the best of them and keep her kills higher than her deaths in Counter Strike. I can talk the talk and walk the walk. But I am not a girl on the internet, because as I’ve been told before, I do not exist.

Well, this is me telling you, I do exist. Owned.

Whitney Butts is the “woman behind the curtain” at The Escapist. Her existence revolves around the fact that Mathematics is the key to the universe, and that she alone is the square root of all evil.

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