The Myth of Leroy Jenkins
By Sam Linton
By now, I’m sure everyone is pretty fed up with hearing how great the internet is. We’re all experienced internauts by now: we know how great it is. Quit hitting us over the head with it!
But how long can it last, really? Like every great age, will this not come crashing down upon us too?
Experts warn us that the collapse of civilization as we know it draws ever closer and all of the things we take for granted such as driving, not having to cultivate our own food, and yes, even the internet, will soon become things of the past — mere wisps of memory to fade and be forgotten.
How will you explain to your grandchildren the glories of the internet as you huddle around the fire on your collectivist farm or bask in the warmth of your heated bomb shelter/panic room?
Will they be able to understand the hilarity that was “All your base are belong to us”? Will they grasp the intellectual challenges of separating fact from fiction on Wikipedia? The depths of human depravity found on the forums of Fark.com?
It is important for the future that we preserve not only the knowledge of what the Internet was, but a detailed history of the things that it contained and the lessons that they have to teach us. Of course, the society of the future will have no internet or word processing software of its own, so this knowledge will have to be passed down orally. To this end, I will devote this space, my little corner of the web, to mythologizing the many memes of the internet for future generations to develop an idea of what was once this wonderful, non-existent network of ideas and beliefs.
Also, remember to print off these myths, otherwise the whole point of this project will be lost.
Episode 1: The Myth of Leroy Jenkins
The Internet of old was fraught with perilous places, but none were as deadly as the area known by some as the World of Warcraft. In the World of Warcraft, danger lurked around every corner and young internauts had to band together just to survive.
In such a land, it was of vital importance to coordinate your actions and to make sure you were all functioning together as a team. Of all the internauts in the World of Warcraft, Leroy Jenkins was the bravest.
But he was also the most brash and headstrong. He had triumphed in many a battle on the digital planes of yore, but his prowess lent itself to hubris. And one grim day he ignored the lessons of teamwork and he led not only himself, but all those who depended on him, to ruin and an early grave.
Leroy and his comrades had journeyed far and wide in the World of Warcraft. Through combined strength of arms they had triumphed over many deadly adversaries, until they found themselves in the dragon-infested spire of Black-Rock. Dragons were deadly beasts, and his comrades had decided to confer on how to best deal with the superior numbers.
But Leroy was quick to action, and grew bored with talking. As his comrades were still calculating their best stratagem for victory with Abdul the Number-Cruncher, Leroy’s patience snapped beneath the weight of his anticipation and he rushed in boldly, if not foolishly, bellowing his trademark battle-cry of “Leeeerooooooy Jennnnnkinnnnsssssss!!!” as he rashly charged headfirst into the dragons’ den.
In an awkward moment of shock and hesitation, his comrades stood blinking and muttering to each other as Leroy disappeared into the cave’s dark mouth. Then, fearing for Leroy’s safety, they clamoured after him.
But without a coherent plan of attack, they, along with Leroy himself, were slaughtered to a man. As a punishment for his hubris, the Gods of the Internet thereafter decreed that Leroy Jenkins’ name would forever be given to those who went crashing heedlessly in towards peril, those who risked all and lost, wagering the lives of cherished friends in hopes of winning foolish glory.
The moral of the story: Always think before you act. It is a lesson you can think well on as you and your siblings forage for food in the nuclear-blasted wasteland of tomorrow (today).
The original (non-mythologized) version of this classic internet moment can be found on youtube.