A Girl Living In a Boys World

First before I jump into anything, this post is simply meant to be silly. I don't recommend following any of the advice or taking anything said too seriously.

Being a girl on the Internet has it's up and downs. Everyone either wants to be your boyfriend or they want nothing to do with you. When people find out I'm a girl, I've either just made 50 new friends or 10 new enemies...I guess I should be more specific as to where on the Internet I speak of. I'm talking about the underground, not your MySpace, or your Facebook and Twitter, we're talking about hidden away IRC channels, secret websites and forums, top sites and private game servers. By normal standards you'd never get into these places unless you're able to hack the planet in your sleep or be able to provide the community with multiple 100mbit lines for various activities. However, being a girl changes everything...

I stepped into "the scene" around 2004, just when Windows Longhorn was coming around and people were all excited about it. It was also a pretty big time for the P2P scene and new networks and applications were growing exponentially. Broadband was becoming bigger and bigger and communities were really starting to take shape and build foundations to what they are today. I made hundreds of new friends, and of course a few enemies. Some of the guys just didn't like seeing a girl who knew a few things about computers, for what reason I do not know. As a girl, and even to this day, you definitely have certain privileges that would never ever be given to anyone else.

At its peak, I had access to sites with the latest everything, I knew people in release groups like RAZOR1911, developers of the largest P2P networks, operators of the largest beta software channels and champions of DEFCON tournaments. I even dated a well known Microsoft Windows blogger for awhile. It was basically being like on top of the world. With a simple request you could pretty much get anything you wanted. The boys respected me for whatever computer skills I had and were more then willing to teach me more, and they were there to grant me wishes only one could dream of.

The boys seemed to be one of two types of people. Either you were to become their girlfriend instantly or they wanted nothing to do with you. I would say, 95% of the boys I've encountered were like this. However, they were a select few who wanted to be your honest to God friend. These people actually treated me like a someone, respected my thoughts and opinions and really were true friends. They didn't care if I couldn't memorize my name in binary or play the latest Half-Life game blindfolded, they just cared that I was interested in technology and shared a similar passion as them. Of course, there's always creepy people on the Internet. At least on the Internet you've got the computer between yourself and them. I've certainly had my fair share, and being a girl, I found if you just ignore them, they'll just come and go. They generally mean no harm, but some of them can be beyond ridiculous. It's best just to put those ones on block!

Unfortunately over time even the select few boys who seemingly cared moved on. They wanted more out of me then I was able to provide. Something about a geeky girl really gets the guys. Romantically I wasn't there for them, so they gave up and left. So much for just wanting to be friends...The few connections I had with some really great people were put on the shelf or ended all together. 99.999% of the boys I've met online have either lost interest either right away because I will not date them or if we actually manage to become and stay friends, they will tend to fall for me (and yes, I admittedly have fallen for a couple of them) and when I say I'd rather the friendship over the relationship, we stop communicating within a month if not less. As bad as this sounds, it's something I've gotten used too, but whenever it happens, I feel horrible and tend to mope around for months on end. Being a girl on the Internet means you will come across the relationship factor no matter how hard you try to avoid it.

My life in the computer world is slowly coming to an end. I am currently going on my 6th year and it's certainly showing. Long gone are my days where I can snap my fingers and have the latest DVDRiPs sitting in my inbox or be able to access the fastest servers. I have a feeling half of this is because of the way things have changed. People have grown up, the guys have real jobs and real lives now, and I certainly have my own as well. It's been years since I've talked to some of the boys, we've just grown apart and moved on with our lives. This of course doesn't mean I've forgotten anyone and I am certainly able to swing a few deals here and there (ones that still wouldn't be as easy to close if I wasn't a girl).

Being a girl on the Internet clearly has it perks whether you wish to recognize them or not. I will admit I have taken advantage of it a few times. It's honestly hard not too, but you must never willingly do so. The boys will almost literally do anything for you, and you must respect them if they're respectful of you. They're no different then non-geeky people, they have normal feelings and needs/wants just like everyone else. I have always tried to be as respectful as possible and have always been thankful to the people who have taught me things or provided me with the tools and knowledge to learn more. If there's one thing to understand if you're a female in the boys territory, it's to appreciate what lengths they will go to for you. I will never forget the people, the boys who have touched my life in one way or another. I will never forget late nights of gaming with the gang, or solving random code issues, or reading cyberpunk novels with friends, or trying out the latest beta software, or even just chatting about random technology tidbits on Skype for hours on end. Being a girl on the Internet is awesome...but the most important thing is just be who you are and appreciate the people who will do anything for you.

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Morgan W.

Head over heels for gadgets!