No, our blog hasn’t been hijacked or hacked and this isn’t about some internet gambling site. This is about something that most people deal with every day and probably don’t even know it. I first ran into the idea in Childfree circles and discovered that it pretty much applies to everybody in one way or another.
It’s called Internet Bingo. There are many forms of this “game”. It happens online and offline and it certainly happens to all of us. Trolls do it to us, well- meaning friends and family do it to us, even strangers do it to us. You know what you get when you fill your Bingo card? Congratulations, you’ve just been “Bingoed”.
Ready for the tutorial?
Internet Bingo works like this: you, me, anyone in a member of a minority group of some kind. You’re a woman, POC, LGBTQ, childfree, trans, overweight… pick one, there are so many. Then think of the most common bigoted, stereotyped crap that people say to you or about you. Think of how often you hear it: in the media, from your parents, from friends, from strangers, and from trolls. It’s a lot, right?
That’s where the Bingo Card comes in. Somebody somewhere lost in the mists of internet past came up with the idea of putting the most common phrases and ideas on a card. Naturally, the center space is always a freebie. When you fill your card or spell BINGO, you win.
What you win is up for debate. Some argue you win the right to toss the troll out of whatever dungeon you’re in at the time. Others argue that it means that whatever conversation you’re in is immediately over and that you win, kind of like Godwin’s Law. No matter what, the comments in the card spaces, when they’re said to you, that’s called “bingoing” someone.
Some examples of Internet Bingo Cards.
And of course, there is a treasure trove of them here. I encourage you to visit that link.
My point is this: I don’t necessarily think we should all be walking around with these score cards in our back pockets keeping a tote of slights. Lord knows there’s enough bad blood and anger on the internet and IRL as it is. But, they’re useful tools. When you’re a minority of some kind there are people who are going to use the same predictable lines, stereotypes, and tired old tropes against you over and over again. They’re generally not creative or inventive, that’s why we call them trolls. They try to get a rise out of the rest of the world because the anonymity of the internet gives them the courage that their real life cowardice prevents. They don’t have the courage to do this crap in real life, they’re too craven.
As for friends and family, the people we know in real life? A lot of them mean well, some of them don’t, and some of them just don’t get it. It’ll depend on the topic. In my experience racism and sexism vary greatly in real life compared to topics like childfreedom and weight. YMMV, and that’s fine.
While I still maintain that we shouldn’t carry around these cards in our back pockets, I do maintain that they’re a helpful tool. Why? Because when you know the crap that’s likely to be flung at you, you’re more likely to be able to deal with it. Forewarned is forearmed and better preparation never killed anyone. If you know what someone is likely to comment on or about, it’s easier to have a response ready. Want to tell them in a particularly special way to go to hell? Great! You can practice in advance.
I want to mention that this post was born out of a conversation on Twitter about just this topic and about a YouTube video where this comic hits pretty much every box on the Racist Bingo Card. I think on Twitter I didn’t explain myself well and I think I managed to offend someone I respect. I wanted to take an opportunity to explain the concept of the Bingo Cards to the uninitiated but also to explain further than I think knowing what to expect in a bigoted, racist, sexist culture like ours is an invaluable tool in surviving the crap that will be flung at you.