“Romance at the Cool Kids’ Table”: The Daily Dot does fanfiction

To celebrate the Daily Dot's first anniversary, fandom reporter Aja Romano cast the website—and some other Internet news sites you may recognize—in a work of original fiction.


Aja Romano


Published Aug 24, 2012   Updated Jun 2, 2021, 12:13 pm CDT

The Daily Dot recently added fandom to its list of core Internet communities and, given it’s our first anniversary, we asked Aja Romano to treat us to an anthropomorfic of our favorite Internet news sites. And nothing in fandom says “Internet culture” quite like a High School AU.

Dot’s first day at The Web wasn’t going so well, and not just because she couldn’t find her way around.

It wasn’t her fault The Web was impossible to navigate. It had earned its nickname by being more like a maze than a high school. She’d started out searching for her Advanced Journalism class and ended up at a room full of people heatedly debating which was the best Kardashian sister.

And she didn’t know why a high school needed to have so many cats, but they seemed to be everywhere. Students had taken to tying inexplicable things around their necks. A cat wearing a pirate hat strolled along in front of her down the latest corridor. At every turn, she heard the sounds of what seemed like a new Journey remix wafting out from classrooms. The other students ignored her as she passed, probably because most of them were busy arguing with each other.

A team of janitors were sweeping up broken glass and painting over a wall of graffiti down a cordoned-off hallway. She knew that way led to the homeroom of a group of underclassmen called /b/. She’d been warned to stay away from them, but she’d seen one of them running around in a tiki skirt earlier, and he hadn’t seemed so bad. The Scientology rant felt a little out of place, but it wasn’t so odd compared to everything else she’d seen so far.

She shivered. What was this place?

“Hey, are you lost? I can show you the ropes. I promise; I’ve got this place all figured out.”

Dot turned.

She knew his type. Sure, he was wearing a polo and a Rolex, but his glasses were a little too thick to be totally cool, and she knew that pocket had once had a protector.

“I’m Mash,” he said, holding out his hand.

Dot quirked an eyebrow. “And I’m headed for a computer lab. Catch up with you later.”

“No, wait!” Mash started walking in her direction. “I can show you around. I—oh, hey, that cat was wearing a pirate hat! Awesome!” He took out his phone and began texting furiously.

“It’s fine, really.”

“No, I’m telling you, I know all the cool kids. What’s your name? Oh, wow. Did you see that guy on the unicycle singing K-pop?” He was texting again.

“I can find my own way…” Dot backed away slowly.

“Don’t go that way,” Mash said distractedly, looking at his phone. “That’s the Reddit corridor. They’ll just ask you a bunch of questions and keep you there for hours. Oh, dude, did you see that dude? He was wearing a water wig!”

“You can just point me to a computer lab, really,” said Dot, looking around for an exit. She spotted a line of promising students down the hall and started to head for it.

“Uh-uh,” called Mash. “Not that way. Those students are just in line because they want to meet Mary Sue.”


“The new girl. She’s smart, funny, way talented—geeky, of course, but everyone loves her.”

Dot rolled her eyes. “Great. Maybe she can tell me where the labs are.”

“This guy bothering you?”

His voice was low and smooth. Dot felt a thrill of anticipation as she turned around. Sunglasses, sports jacket, chiseled jaw. The view definitely didn’t disappoint. He carried a sleek briefcase in one hand, a basketball in the other. Dot didn’t know whether she wanted to date him or be him. Mash had even stopped texting long enough to stare. Clearly she wasn’t the only one with a crush.

“Gawk,” said Mash. “How’s it going, bro!”

Gawk eye-rolled and shrugged off Mash’s attempts at a high-five. Mash looked defeated.

“Leave the kid alone, Gawk. He’s just conditioned because of patriarchal social values to admire obvious displays of status and power,” said a girl behind him, and Dot realized that Gawk apparently had a whole entourage. She must have found the cool kids.

“I’m Jezebel,” said the girl, holding out her hand. Dot took it. Jezebel pointed to the others in the circle. “Hacker, Kotaku, and Io.”

“I know, I know,” said Io, who had a video camera. He held it up and began filming her. “It’s a weird name.”

Dot politely ducked out of the way of the camera, behind Mash, who was still texting. “I’m Dot. Anybody know where I can find a computer lab?”

Gawk slung his arm around her shoulder. “Stick with me, kid, and you’ll own your own computer lab.”

Mash looked up from his phone. “You don’t own The Web, Gawker! There’s room for everyone!”

Dot unentangled herself from Gawk’s grasp. “Guys,” she said. “I’m sure everybody can have their own space in the computer lab. Once we find it.” She really just wanted to get to Journalism class before it was over. Maybe the teachers would let her join the school newspaper.

“No!” said Mash abruptly. He lowered his phone. Woah, thought Dot. This must be serious.

“I’m tired of letting you jerk me around, Gawk,” said Mash. Gawk looked horrified, then conflicted. “You didn’t even call!”

“Shut up!” Gawk said. “I thought we weren’t going to talk about that!”

“I thought we had something special,” said Mash. “But you just wanted handjobs in the locker room!”

“Hey, there’s no need to drag marginalizing gay stereotypes into this,” said Jezebel.

“But we were in the actual locker room!” said Mash. “Whatever. It’s over. I’ve found someone new. He treats me better than you ever could!”

“You—what?” spluttered Gawk. “Who?”

“Buzz!” Mash retorted.

Gawk’s mouth dropped open. The basketball fell from his arms and rolled away. IO was filming everything. Dot wondered if she could hit him up for a copy of the footage later. Wow, this would make a great news headline. “BUZZMASH ROMANCE LEADS TO MAWK SCANDAL.”  No. The names didn’t quite work mushed together. Maybe Muzz and Gash? Hmm. She’d think about that part later.

“I don’t care,” seethed Gawk, tossing his perfectly coiffed head. “Everybody knows you’d sleep with anyone if it gets you a little Klout.”

Everyone gasped.

Mash blanched. Then he clenched his fists so hard Dot thought she heard the screen of his iPhone crack.

“This isn’t over, Gawker,” he said. “You have no idea who you’re dealing with.”

He strode away, followed only by a tutu-wearing cat.

Dot pulled out a notebook and a pen. Screw the computer lab. This couldn’t wait.

Think Mash and Gawk should get back together?  Is MashDot your new OTP? Tell us—or continue the story—in the comments!

Illustration via Anonymous/Canvas

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*First Published: Aug 24, 2012, 6:39 pm CDT