‘We Do It for the Lulz’: What Makes LulzSec Tick?

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This collective mind, and especially that of the /b/ message board, tends to have a jovially nihilistic worldview, seeking not much more than amusement, an escape from boredom, often at the expense of others. Asked why they do something, an “Anon” will likely reply that they “do it for the lulz,” which is a corruption of LOL—”laughing out loud.” They love pranks, evidenced by the Rickrolling phenomenon, which was born on /b/.

(MORE: Operation Payback: Who Are the WikiLeaks ‘Hactivists’?)

Like the Tea Party or Al Qaeda, Anonymous is a “starfish” organization. This means that while there may be some titular heads, any number of cells or individuals can operate under its banner. Anonymous is in this sense a large, amorphous, and disparate group of persons around the world—from novice “script kiddies” to expert hackers—who lend their talents and computing power to consensus schemes hatched on 4chan or other online hangouts.

These often include raiding and causing havoc among the unsuspecting denizens of other online forums, or flooding YouTube with porn disguised as children’s videos. Increasingly, however, Anonymous’ campaigns have tended to eschew the “lulzy” for the self-righteously political, culminating in this week’s preoccupation with the Fed.

“We Do It for the Lulz”

LulzSec (short for “Lulz Security”), as its name implies, seems to be a throwback to the original spirit of doing things simply “for the lulz.” Some characterize this attitude as anarchistic, but it could also be seen as existentialist or nihilistic. Faced with the reality of an absurd world without intrinsic meaning, some choose to approach life as “performance art” to give it meaning. LulzSec’s actions seem to fit this pattern.

Instead of preachy manifestos, they issue comical press releases. One of their first high-profile breaches was against PBS.org where they planted a fake news story reporting that Biggie Smalls and Tupac Shakur where alive and well and living in New Zealand.

The group’s active Twitter feed, decorated with Nyan cat and their monocled mascot, is often a stream of absurdist or surreal humor, with tweets such as, “You are a peon and our Freemason lizard rebellion will propel us towards binary stars of yore, you sweaty caterpillar farm,” and, “Mankind should tremble as the SSH key to your neuron load balancers are used as a pathway to the chemical exhilaration of entertainment.”

The group’s website plays the theme to The Love Boat and invites visitors to sing along to modified lyrics about “The Lulz Boat.” Pressing the mute button to stop the music only increases its volume.

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