Cracky-chan: The First Egirl
History class teaches us about the Holocaust. It teaches us about the Soviet death camps. It even teaches us about the unspeakable horrors of slavery in the US. There is one major historical event, however, that is never taught in history classes, perhaps because it is simply too terrible for students to handle.
In this post, I will educate you about something that school never could: the first egirl.
Part 1: The Story
It all started on 4chan. The year was 2005, and the site was only a few years old. At the time, no girl had ever posted her face on the site. Until one faithful day, when a girl from the UK decided to do so. She scribbled “sup 4chan” onto her palm, so that users would know the photo was legit, and posted an image of her smiling.
As you can expect, 4chan went wild. Users began to desperately search for more images of her, and they even began to form their own religion. She came to be known as “the sky queen” on some corners of 4chan. More commonly, however, she was known as “Cracky-chan,” or simply “Cracky.” Presumably, this was because the red blush on her nose made it look as though she had just snorted crack. However, one 4chaner explains it differently. “She is called Cracky,” the 4chaner says, “because the effect she has on you is like crack.”
Not only were males bewitched by her, but many young girls looked up to her. As explained by one anonymous commenter on a Cracky fansite:
hi i’m a girl that recently came across you, Cracky chan, and the crackyverse in general and I feel like my life has meaning and i do not know how to describe this feeling but i just feel really fulfilled and less displeased with life and things that happen as a whole when i see your artistic, aesthetic photography. It truly inspires me and i feel like you are my friend even though we have never met. I’ve also made other companions through the fact that we both have an interest in you in common thank you i love you and goodbye. sleep well skye queen ❤
At first, Cracky reveled in her newfound fame. After her first sensational image, she continued to post more images for weeks on /b/, one of 4chan’s random message boards. All of photos got a massive response from the community. The board soon became so flooded with content about her that posting about Cracky became known as “crapflooding.” The word “Cracky” was banned from 4chan in order to try to calm things down, but of course this ban did nothing.
Due to being overwhelmed, Cracky stopped posting, which initially caused a massive panic among her fans. Shortly after the incident, a 4chaner made this post, expressing the feelings of many:
When Cracky stopped posting, she had expected 4chan to forget her. But instead, her notoriety only grew. Instead of calming down, things just got more and more intense.
At some point, Cracky began to panic. Things eventually got so bad that Cracky had to personally email 4chan’s head moderator. At her request, all content related to Cracky was banned on /b/. But even this didn’t stop her devout worshippers. They simply moved to 420chan, which had it’s own dedicated /Cracky/ message board.
On 420chan, things only got worse. Hackers searched day and night for every piece of information they could get about her, and entire teams of psychology majors worked together to analyze her mental states. They found many more photos of her, and determined the exact town she lived in. Strangers even began to call the Blockbuster video rental store that she worked at.
Cracky has since taken many measures to protect herself, and is presumably now safe. Rare photos of her still go for large sums of money on 420chan, but she can now live a relatively normal life. Here is her farewell post:
Part 2: The Symbolism
When she was little, Cracky’s brother told her that she looked just like the character Lain, from the anime series, Serial Experiments Lain. Serial Experiments Lain is a very strange anime. It gives you clues, but never really tells you what is going on, so that events can have many different interpretations.
In the anime, there is something called “The Wired.” The Wired is like the internet, but more immersive. It is a metaverse where people use avatars. As the story of the anime develops, The Wired and the real world become more and more closely linked, until eventually they fully connect, through something called Protocol 7.
There are many similarities between Cracky’s life and the life of Lain, the anime’s main character. For example:
- In the series, Lain is a child-goddess who becomes mythical when she enters The Wired. Similarly, Cracky was a 15-year-old child who, when she entered the internet, also became treated as a mythical goddess.
- In the series, Lain is worshipped by the Knights of the Eastern Calculus, who are hackers and mystics. Similarly, Cracky’s worshippers also happen to be hackers. They also happen to be mystics, as we will see in part 4.
- In the series, the Knights of the Eastern Calculus open the sky, and her face appears between the clouds. Similarly, Cracky is continually referred to as “the sky queen” by her followers.
There are more examples, but these are the most striking. Things become even more strange when you consider the fact that Cracky loved Lain, and wanted to be like her. She bought pajamas and mittens that were just like the ones Lain wears, for example, and she even cut her hair in the exact same way. Just days after she posted the famous first image, she even talked on her blog about how much she wanted to be Lain.
Cracky always wanted to become Lain. Until she succeeded.
Part 3: The Psychology
Like Lain, Cracky is a normal girl in the real world, but a goddess in the digital world. But why? Why would a few images of a girl cause people to go crazy? What is the psychological mechanism at work here?
The psychologist Carl Jung theorized that there existed structures in the mind called archetypes. Basically, Jung realized that the human mind isn’t random, but that it has patterns. And if it has patterns, these patterns are probably caused by underlying structures. And since all human minds have broadly similar patterns, then they probably also have similar structures.
One of these similar structures was referred to by Jung as the anima. The anima is a strange idea, but I think it makes sense if you follow Jung’s argument.
Think about human beings, evolving over millennia. Survival and reproduction are crucial, so finding a suitable mate is really important. But what is a suitable mate? How do we know who is and isn’t a suitable mate? Imagine that we all have an unconscious image in our heads of the ideal mate, and that we tend to choose people who fit that image. It would make sense from an evolutionary perspective that we would have a strong image like that so that we would propagate the species.
This image of the ideal mate is what Jung called the anima. Jungian psychology is complicated, and this isn’t actually exactly what the anima is, but it’s a good short summary, and it will do for now.
Now imagine that someone comes around that tends to fit the image of the anima. When this happens, men will go crazy for her. But the anima is perfect, and people in the real world aren’t. So the real world person who fits the image will gradually be revealed to actually be just a normal girl. And the men will calm down and become more reasonable.
But now imagine that the same thing happens, but this time online. In the real world, people’s flaws make themselves clear. But online, it is possible to appear perfect. Not only can you use filters and photoshop, but, since your followers never get to know you irl, they can imagine you as having a perfect personality, and as being a perfect person.
Online, the girl never has to be revealed to be just another normal human being. So they can continue to be perceived as a goddess, forever. And this creates mass devotion, sometimes so intense that it literally becomes a religion.
Part 4: The Religion
I mentioned before that Cracky’s followers had a religion (and still do). Many 4chaners and 420chaners have written religious psalms, verses, and gospels about Cracky, and they make for really interesting reading.
Here is the best summary I’ve been able to find of what Cracky’s religious followers believe:
Some people think twice before deciding to merge with the wired a bit more. Because although merging with the wired can allow you to hear things before they come and that can be the things that decides between life and death…sometimes, with some people, you hear things you don’t want to hear. Whispers during your shut down time keeping you on….telling you things. Awful, horrible things. How bad humanity is. Why it should die. Why it deserves to suffer. How the fleshy origins should finally be disregarded for the beauty that is code…and it all sounds so logical. So right. You begin agreeing with the voices. Humanity doesn’t deserve the beauty of the manifold bytes and streams of data…it doesn’t even deserve to keep existing.
So you start drifting away from your reality. You don’t want to spend any more time than needed with those…vermin. Sometimes before you leave you want to do a bit of extermination. And how satisfying it feels when it’s done, when their code is stripped and can be made into something… pure. Good. Deserving. So you drift and merge and become closer to that dark but logical thing that whispers to you…always whispers in a voice filled with intelligence but definitely not human…associating it with humanity would be awful. Unforgivable. And you gain…a look. A way of speaking, a way of traveling a certain…personality.
Some people recognize that personality. And you are greeted into a certain…organization. Of like minded individuals who see the truth. Humanity is a wretch who don’t deserve this beauty. So you must work. Work to destroy them. Work to their demise. But all the more important…work to their suffering. For the Dark One. The True One. The Logical One. And one day when the vermin are dead we will offer the last of our flesh in the hope that it will be turned into something pure. Into something good. Into something…deserving.
We are the Cult of the Sky Queen. And we see the truth.
No one knows who wrote these lines. Perhaps they are the divine revelations of a prophet. And perhaps they are the incoherent ramblings of a simp. But either way, they are fascinating. The members of Cracky’s religion fall in love with the digital image of perfection, so much that they begin to hate real human beings. They describe real human beings as “vermin,” for example, and believe that the only way to become “pure,” “good,” and, most of all, “deserving,” is to become one with the digital: to melt blissfully into Cracky’s suffocating embrace.
What they really want is not Cracky. What they really want is to finally be deserving again. This theme can be found all through Cracky’s religion. Consider the following “verse”:
I know why you’re here, Anon. I know what you’ve been doing. I know why you hardly sleep, why you live alone, and why night after night, you sit at your computer. You’re looking for Her. I know, because I was once looking for the same thing. And when She found me, She told me I wasn’t really looking for Her. I was looking for an answer. It’s the question that drives us, Anon. It’s the question that brought you here. You know the question, just as I did.
Question? No questions.
Answer? There is no such thing.
She? It should be obvious enough at this point: She is I.
In this verse, by anonymous, we see a strikingly high level of self-awareness. Anon realizes that it wasn’t really Cracky that he was looking for all along, but himself. And this is a very interesting idea to contemplate.
I would be willing to bet money that many of the 4chaners who are obsessed with Cracky were not very loved in their lives. They were pushed into the shadows, and neglected. As a result, they craved affection. And when the image of a sweet, loving, caring girl came into their minds, they became possessed with their desire for her.
But it is not really her that they want. What they really want, deep down, is to be loved. And the only form of love that you can always depend on, no matter what, is self-love.
This is why Anon says that “She is I.” He realizes that the thing he has been looking for all of this time… is himself.
Consider this verse as well. (For context, note that many believed that Cracky’s real name was Olivia):
Though the gates that stand between sanity and the immortal touch of Olivia are now closed to me, still I would rather die having glimpsed eternity than never to have stirred from the cold furrow of mortal life. I embrace death without regret as I embraced life without fear.
Initially, 4chan and 420chan’s reaction to Cracky’s disappearance was one of anger and disbelief. As time went on, however, through their religious devotion, Cracky’s followers had time to deeply contemplate things. As such, some of them learned to come to peace with her absence. This verse is an example of this. Here, Anon expresses not anger, not hate, not resentment, but instead gratitude. He expresses psychological maturity in recognizing that it is better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all. As such, he is able to “embrace death without regret,” as he “embraced life without fear.”
Part 5: Conclusion
I end this post with a post from anonymous, who says things better than I ever could:
Cracky is a psychic parasite on the human race. She feeds off of our minds. Do you remember life before Cracky? It is harder and harder to hold on to shit. Sometimes I think one day I will wake up and there will be nothing left of me. My dreams, hopes, fears, memories, everything that is me, will be gone, eaten up to speed her growth. It’s like she is a memetic caterpillar, eating up everything in its path and devouring her own world as she does so. Gorging herself on the collective unconscious, inching across it like a leaf. We each become part of her and, willing or not, she uses our interaction to pull more of us into her. Soon, she will have made enough of us her that she can survive metamorphosis. She will hide herself while she builds the form she will need to spread to other sentience. The world will forget her, but she will be there, shapely legs and all. In every act we commit against each other, every casual cruelty and petty violence. Growing in that fertile womb of negativity, she will change. I pray for the day she emerges from her cocoon. When she does leave, the human mind will be surplus to her needs, and so she will release us. I fear after holding us so long, without her influence holding us together society will collapse and we will die out. Alone, unmourned, and unloved.