September 15, 2014
by Bryne Yancey

Facebook has long been the social network of choice for your parents to share image macros, your conservative childhood friends and their heated straw man political arguments, and for regionally-flavored listicles shared ad nauseum (for me, it’s usually a listicle having to do with Florida-based grocery store chain Publix, which admittedly is the best fucking grocery store chain in American history). Users can also scroll and scroll and scroll, often looking at the same status updates dozens of times in one day, and return the next day, and every subsequent day until they die, to do the same thing. It’s great.

Another area in which Facebook dominates the competition is its groups feature. People can form public or private groups on Facebook and invite their friends or strangers to it to discuss a certain subject without clogging up the rest of their already-clogged feed. They’ve replaced forums in many ways, because they’re extremely easy to set up and use, and since nearly everyone is already on Facebook, getting people to join requires little, if any, coaxing. They can be a lot of fun, so long as the people involved don’t take themselves too seriously.

My experience with Facebook groups is mostly professional—Punknews.org’s editorial staff used, and I’m sure still uses, a private Facebook group to discuss important matters regarding the site such as which bands we hated, which labels and managers had agreed to pay us the most under-the-table money to cover their bands, and how many guest list spots we could finagle from promoters and then resell for pure profit. You know, normal magazine stuff. It was a quick and easy way to plan things for the site, and also figure out where the company hovercraft was parked that week (almost always at Adam White’s house).

After I left Punknews, I also left Facebook for a while. My mental health was going through an especially rough patch, and I thought unplugging, at least a little bit, would be a good thing for my brain. It was, but when you have web #content to promote, Facebook is something of a necessary evil. The only reason I give a fuck about pageviews is so I can pay writers, and The Runout receives more referral traffic from Facebook than any other network by an extremely wide margin, so I came back. And for whatever reason, I got hooked on an open group in the process.

The description for US Emo is as follows [sic]: “This group is for talking about emo music. You can post what ever but the groups primary focus is hardcore style emo (1980s & early 1990s emo/emo core) and later era emo (mid 90s-present screamo) .” Seems innocuous enough, doesn’t it? Except the rules, which seem to change on a daily basis, are hilariously stringent, with abbreviations used to classify bands (or objects) as RE (Real Emo), FE (Fake Emo) or WR (Weiner Rock) and a convoluted points system, of which a group of mods evidently keep score. Just read this and try not to get a headache (all misspelled words are [sic]):

ATTENTION MEMBERS OF US Emo A NEW RULE IS UPON US! READ THIS RULE AND THE REST OF THE RULES IN THIS POST.

Point System Rule:

Every member of US Emo starts with 10 points.

If you start a thread that contains only REAL EMO (RE) content you will gain 1 point. You can only gain 1 point in a 24 hour period even if you post more threads containing REAL EMO in a given day.

If you post a thread containing any FAKE EMO (FE) or WIENER ROCK (WR) content you will lose 5 points unless the first line of the thread reads [WARNING This thread contains FE/WR content] . If you post the warning you will only lose 3 points.

Any member that gets down to 0 or less points will be banned permanently from US Emo

Score keepers hired by admins of US Emo will help score your posts, if you feel like the score was made incorrectly please tag an admin in the post for a final decision. If you lose an appeal you will be deducted an extra point.

DEFINITIONS:

RE – Hardcore punk music that is emo

FE – music that is not hardcore punk that is called emo

WR – DIY music that is not hardcore punk

THE RULES OF US EMO:

If you break a rule you will get a chance to resolve the situation in a positive manner, if a positive resolution is not made or if you continually break rules you will be banned permanently

My goal is for you as members to try to come to conflict resolution on your own, and for all of us as a community to support each other and a positive environment here on this board. If someone is doing something you feel is making this forum a place that is not positive or safe please stand up for what you feel should be done and ask that member to discontinue what they are doing, if you feel an apology is in order ask for it, try to come to a positive resolution, if that fails tag me in the thread and I will ban them.

If you feel some one should be banned this is the proper procedure to follow in the banning process:

1. quote or screencap what ban nominee has said in US Emo to constitute ban

2. state which rule they broke

3. ask them to apologize or explain what they meant by it

4. admin makes a decision

These are specific rules that can and will get you banned:

1. Stereotyping based on skin color, ethnicity, gender, age, sexuality, location, body type (hair, weight, height, eyes, etc.), physical or mental ability, socioeconomic status. If you stereotype based on any of these thing you will face being banned.

An example of this offense would be “Slavs aren’t good at playing water polo” or “old people just don’t get it”

2. Slurs or negative language based on skin color, ethnicity, gender, age, sexuality, location, body type (hair, weight, height, eyes, etc.), physical or mental ability, socioeconomic. If you use one of these type of negative slurs you will face being banned.

An example of this offense would be “stop being a retard bro” or “Jacob Scheppler gypped a bunch of record labels”

3. Bullying. If you are picking on someone by calling them negative names, or making fun of them based on who they are as a person for instance there skin color, ethnicity, gender, age, sexuality, location, body type (hair, weight, height, eyes, etc.), physical or mental ability, socioeconomic status you will face being banned.

An example of this offense would be “Jeff Cort you are a turd” or “Ben Curttright you are a racist” or “You’re poor and that makes you stupid”

4. Spamming the forum with the same post or almost the same post over and over again, this goes for spamming a thread with the same post over and over again. If you do this you will be asked to delete the spam, if you refuse you will face being banned.

5. Trying to sell anything other than music in this forum. This is a music forum it’s not a T-shirt forum, a sunglasses forum, an amplifier forum, etc. so don’t try to sell it if it’s not music. If you do this you will be asked to delete any post trying to sell anything other than music, if you refuse to delete the post you will face being banned.

If you have any questions about these rules or would like me to amend them please post in this thread any amendments you would like to have made or any questions you may have. I may or may not use ideas you have for amendments, and if I have already answered a question about a rule I will not answer the same question again. Let try to keep this forum fun and positive, but if you break the rules you will face the umpire.

For an open Facebook group, this is a lot. It’s also unclear—and this is part of US Emo’s “brilliance”—whether or not it’s serious. If it is, it’s needlessly heavy-handed beyond recognition; if not, it’s one of the best long-con troll jobs in recent memory. I read a bunch of posts right after joining, and made an educated guess that it was the latter. But I’m still not sure. US Emo is so bloated (2,409 members at the time of this writing, thanks in large part to a link on The World Is A Beautiful Place and I Am No Longer Afraid To Die’s Facebook page) that it could be both, that it could mean entirely different things to different people. But as one who considers goofing off a favorite pastime, I saw the group and its seemingly inherent rigidity as an opportunity to act stupid on the internet and maybe, hopefully attempt to point out some inanity and subversively deconstruct it.

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At this point, it still wasn’t clear whether these people were serious or not. (If you want to see their responses, go check out the group at your own risk. I purposely left out their names and comments because the only privacy I’m interested in openly violating is my own.)

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I made my language clear/moronic enough, I think, to make my intentions clear. But while a lot of the posts in the group were lighthearted and self-deprecating, many of them were concerned with whether a specific band is RE, FE or WR (RE easily being the most rare of the three judgments). It seemed like there was some Internet Serious Business happening here. I decided to solicit a judgment.

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(As an aside, please go listen to this.) One commenter remarked that it was “none of the above” and “shitty metal,” which like, sure maybe, but System Of A Down had a bunch of good, emotional songs in their catalogue. I wasn’t discouraged; I just decided to read the group more to try and figure out what was RE and what was FE. Turns out, it’s entirely arbitrary! Same for the points system:

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One commenter gave me -69 points for this right off the bat. Ouch.

Since I was confused on how to be emo, I opened a new tab, Googled “how to be emo” and found a poorly constructed wikiHow article on the subject, as one does. I thought it was funny and that my new friends in US Emo would get a kick out of it.

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While some commenters understood the tongue-in-cheek nature of the post, a few lamented its contents as if their own emo cred was being openly challenged by an obviously mostly wrong how-to article.

Then I thought more about emo, its roots and its traits and thought, “Huh. Not a lot of women in emo. Not too many people of color either. Yep, mostly just whiny, sometimes egregiously misogynistic white dudes in emo.” I remembered playing the original Emogame online in the early 2000s and made the correlation:

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A couple of “sighs” later, I’d hit a crossroads. I’d tried very hard, but still didn’t feel welcome at US Emo. I was beginning to think that these people were serious, though if they weren’t they’d really trolled me good.


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One of the first comments here, from the group’s founder, was to “Post RE on it exclusively . Don’t use it to post FE.” Well, OK. I was hoping for more humorous ideas, ones that might say to visitors, “Hey, emo isn’t so bad! We can all have a laugh at our own expense. Come on in, the water’s fine.”

Just today, the rules of US Emo changed yet again: “If you start a thread to ask “ is ________ RE/FE/WR” you will get get perma banned. If you start a thread to ask “ how many points do I get for ______” or “ can we post ______” you will get perma banned. Read the rules if you have questions ask them in the rules thread.” Shit was getting tyrannical, which is usually what happens online when a community is allowed to run amok. But this latest change seemed to zap the fun out of the whole group. A lot of the other members agreed. There’s an ongoing comment thread about this, in which many are questioning the admin’s motives and the group’s construction and makeup as a whole. Like most things online, this thread’s entertainment value and its effectiveness will be fleeting and ultimately pointless. Thanks for a fun weekend, US Emo, but I’m out.

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