Ace, I’m worried about my little girl. I’ve been tracking her online activity daily, and she seems to spend hours on her MyFaceSpace. God forbid she fall in with the wrong crowd, or worse, catch the eye of some sicko stalker. In the interest of keeping tabs, I’ve decided to create a SpaceFageBook page of my own. Could you give me the names of some “hip” local-area “troupes” to join, so as to seem less conspicuous when I “befriend” her?—Concerned Parent
Oh C.P., you don’t know the half of it. Ace, who let’s just say has stared into various abysses during his long and complicated life, still gets the shakes every time he hears the word “4chan.” The Internet, dear reader, is a wretched place. Just be grateful that your daughter doesn’t fritter away the hours trolling Craigslist for social connection, and never forget: There is no such thing as a “casual encounter.” Not ever.
Rest assured, though, that Facebook is relatively benign. Sure, their policies regarding the distribution of your personal data to advertisers and potential employers are shady, and probably present more of a threat to your kid in the long-term than some faceless online boogeyman—or unrequited digital crush, for that matter. But since your focus is the here and now, Ace gives you three of Charlottesville’s most distinctive, obscure, or otherwise noteworthy Facebook groups:
1. C’ville Zombie Resistance Front (C.Z.R.F.). Internet-hip youngsters love zombies, C.P. They identify with them. The zombie’s awkward gait is a metaphor for the tragic condition of adolescence, of being unable to run very fast after what you desire, and of the teenager’s literal, fatally direct pursuit of knowledge. (“Brainssss…”) Although it appears to have gone inactive since 2007, the group’s 75 members remain digitally linked. When the zombie apocalypse comes, you know who’ll be in the front lines.
2. Charlottesville Cornhole. Ace did a double take when he found this one—again, too much time on the Internet—but further research showed the truth to be fairly innocuous: “Cornhole” is a game, the object being to toss a beanbag through a hole in a box. It’s popular among college students, and you’d recognize it immediately if you saw it being played on Rugby Road—watch for frat boys with the backs of their shirts hiked up onto their foreheads, and listen for claims of “I am Cornholio.”
3. Cville Thugs. Your last stop in the search for authentic youth culture, where you can browse anecdotes of purported thug exploits and gangsta prose poetry. Never mind that its members are mostly Caucasian teens from the suburbs.
You can ask Ace yourself. Intrepid investigative reporter Ace Atkins has been chasing readers’ leads for 20 years. If you have a question for Ace, e-mail it to firstname.lastname@example.org.