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New Yorkers protest 'Internet people' invading neighborhood

On the Upper West Side, locals object to a sidewalk cafe where people allegedly do awful things such as have Internet dates.

Will an Upper West Side restaurant's sidewalk cafe attract an infestation of "Internet people"? Screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

Let's get the disclosures out of the way.

This story is about a block of New York's Upper West Side where once lived someone I used to date. She was a countess.

Look, I was (relatively) eligible in those days. She was very funny, with a few quirky pretensions, and it was a nice area. I used to see comedian Conan O'Brien occasionally at the local coffee shop.

Now, however, the area seems to have taken a turn for the worse. The residents have raised their gold-encrusted pitchforks to wage a war against heinous interlopers who are doing something unconscionable. Yes, they're meeting people on the Internet.

You will surely sympathize with this fight against urban blight. It all started when the Riposo 72 wine bar got approval for a 16-seat sidewalk cafe.

You might imagine that sidewalk cafes are very New York. However, as local news site DNA Info New York reports, the locals fear their children's mental state will be permanently twisted by an influx of "Internet people."

I thought we were all Internet people now. It seems, though, that some of those who live on West 72nd Street, between Columbus Avenue and Central Park West, fear that these Internet people bring with them moral degradation.

DNA Info New York quoted one resident, Al Salsano, as sniffing: "I have seen people say: 'I met you on the Internet,' and you're putting that on the sidewalk? I don't want children walking near 'Internet people' meeting."

It's true that when Internet people meet, difficult consequences can ensue.

Firstly, there's the shock that the person they're meeting is far less attractive that their pictures on the Internet. Then there's the inevitable friction that occurs when one party wants a one-night stand and the other a lifetime of lying amid the lilies, dreaming of eternal love.

And let's be entirely open about this, Internet people are loud, obnoxious, brutally unfiltered porn-watching folk who can neither think nor spell. How might this affect a place whose residents describe it as, well, a "bedroom community"?

Members of the street's Community Board 7 are in deep cultural fear. DNA Info New York quotes another resident, Chris Horwitz, after being asked whether any of the other local sidewalk cafes attract a seedy, loud, check-shirted crowd: "I don't go out to meet people I found on the Internet."

Sir, perhaps you should.

It's true that some people you meet on the Web turn out to be bonkers. This is quite similar to people you meet in museums, churches and, yes, your local bars.

The mere idea that "Internet people" are some rare and dangerous species is odd.

Perhaps one day zombie movies will be replaced by Internet people movies. Creepy individuals wearing empty grins and white earbuds invade sleepy towns and demand artisan coffee and gluten-free croissants. When they don't get what they want, they destroy their foes...on Yelp.

I fear that, since my days on West 72nd Street, the neighborhood has taken a dive. Even the countess moved upstate. She married down -- oh, so far down. I think she met her husband on the Internet.