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“Internet Fight” or “Internet Argument” is a term that is used to ridicule the hyper-aggressive and often futile nature of verbal feuds and flame wars that take place online.
The fruitless nature of online arguments has been mocked since as early as March 2005, when Rich “Lowtax” Kyanka posted a guide to winning an internet argument on SomethingAwful. By September 2006, the phrase “internet argument” was defined on Urban Dictionary as “something that idiots do online.” The phrase evolved into an image macro caption by 2007, paired with a photo later known as “Girl Yelling at Yak.” One of the earliest archived uses of the image was posted to 4chan’s /b/ (random) board on May 21st, 2007. However, since the entire thread was not archived, the context of the post is unknown.
As early as 2002, an image macro depicting a young boy with Down Syndrome excitedly running on a track has been found with the caption “Arguing on the Internet is like running in the Special Olympics: Even if you win, you’re still retarded.” The image was used in a similar manner to “Internet Fight” response images, hoping to bring an end to a flame war. One of the earliest archived usages took place in June 2002 on the Total Annihilation Universe forums, where a moderator reported removing it from another thread, sparking a discussion on whether the image was harmless or truly offensive. In September 2006, the phrase was used in the definition of “arguing on the internet” on Urban Dictionary. Though the image and phrase has seemingly fallen out of use, they appeared on the Tribal War forums, the Attraction Forums and Yahoo! Answers between 2003 and 2009.
In November 2007, the Girl Yelling at Yak photo reappeared on the Newgrounds forum in a thread containing an argument between older members and people who joined the community that year. It was used again in February 2008, in a LiveJournal post and continued to appear on message boards that year, including the KnoxBlab forum. By 2011, reaction gifs with the caption began to appear, including one submitted to the /r/GIFs subreddit depicting ’60s Spider-Man and a foe locked in an endless, looping fistfight (shown below). The post gained 1,192 upvotes, 572 points overall and 7 comments prior to being archived. Between 2012 and 2013, images with the captions “internet fight” or “internet argument” have appeared on Señor Gif, Tumblr, DamnXD, MemeCenter and CollegeHumor, among others.
Total Annihilation Universe Forums – Arguing on the Internet is like the Special Olympics
The Attraction Forums – Arguing on the internet is like running in the Special Olympics…