Say you’re feeling particularly friendless and alone. You find a new internet community, be it a message board, MMO, IRC channel, whatever. You look for conversations that interest you, join in, make connections, and eventually build up a sense of community, getting to know everyone better, and having deeper, more meaningful conversations.

That doesn’t happen on 4chan. You still get the initial feeling of belonging when you’re on the same page as everyone in a given conversation, and you might even talk to the same people the next day about something else, but there’s no real way for you to know it. Everyone’s nameless, faceless, and inherently interchangeable. You can’t compile a list of what interests you share with another person over the course of several chats. Attempts to form deeper connections through 4chan posts is like drinking salt water when you’re dehydrated: It tastes like it’s working, but ultimately, it just leaves you thirstier.

Violet Hargrave on antisocial media.