The new style of slander

Thedirty.com is about to sweep over college campuses everywhere; are you ready?

Paige Vigil

The best part about graduating from high school is coming to college, moving into a dorm, setting your own schedule and leaving the drama behind. Unfortunately, it seems the high school drama is being dragged onto the college campus, not by incoming freshmen, but by Nik Richie. Richie is the founder of thedirty.com, a Web site targeting college-age students and dedicated to slander and gossip. Young adults across the nation have been visiting The Dirty to post pictures and anonymously defame their peers. After gossip and pictures are posted, Richie himself comments (âÄúblasts,âÄù as he calls it) on each blog; sadly, none of his comments are ever pleasant, hence the siteâÄôs name. The Dirty has a link to gossip about almost everything: cities, campuses, cops, cougars, athletes, cheerleaders and more. But The DirtyâÄôs most loyal readers are college students. Its followers are so rabidly dedicated that some buy merchandise to advertise for it. Richie is a native of Arizona. The universities in the southern states have become devoted to this Web site and The Dirty is slowly making its way north. The Minnesota College section is off to a slow start, but the âÄúblastâÄù rate has been increasing over time. Besides simple gossip, Richie attempts to use other methods to bring in hits. He contrived an âÄúexclusiveâÄù club called the Scissors Gang Mafia (SGM), combining caste and vitriol in the same despicable Web venture. Anyone making a peace sign in a picture can be coined a âÄúrealâÄù or âÄúfakeâÄù SGM on The Dirty Web site. While readers pointlessly aspire to be a âÄúreal SGM,âÄù it appears outright impossible because of how much pleasure the creator gets from passing judgment. Exactly how to become a real SGM is not clear. But on The Dirty, every post intends to hurt. Some may feel immune to words, but when oneâÄôs anxieties become hijacked for otherâÄôs twisted enjoyment, people get hurt. While some people want to remain ignorant about their likeness on The Dirty, many have their interest piqued. RichieâÄôs thoughtless greed has introduced a potent mixture of curiosity and cruelty; The Dirty cannot be a constructive development for youth culture. Unfortunately, even though Richie defames college kids around the nation, he does have a link posted on the Web site dedicated to explaining how the bloggings are legal. But The Dirty claims to remove hurtful posts upon request, and that has yet to be seen. Richie says, âÄúIf you canâÄôt make fun of yourself, who can you make fun of?âÄù Yet, I am sure that most who have been âÄúblastedâÄù on the Web site would feel that he has crossed the line. The Dirty brings on a whole new wave of angst and drama among young adults in an era where we can passively gossip in a virtual world, without having to see the reality of the emotional damage done. If you knew you could anonymously insult someone, or even a friend without repercussion, would you? We have always been known as Minnesota nice; now some may become Minnesota dirty. Paige Vigil welcomes comments at [email protected]