Living in a box (Cyber-lepers)

Imagine a society that can be found exclusively on the net, a society that works, lives and is entertained entirely by the content of the Internet. Even though the Cyber-lepers consist of roughly 5% of the cyberpunk world, they are seldom seen outside of the net.

Even though these people live on the net, they should not be considered netrunners, as they don't try to use their electronic muscle to break into corporation's databanks, instead they are nothing more than users, similar to the couch potatoes of the 1980s.

With the explosive growth of e-commerce, it became possible to work and to purchase all necessities and other goods on line and have them delivered directly to the residence without having to leave home…


Cyber-lepers download movies and music, go to simulcast concerts or shows, watch the news and receive other information directly off of the net. They purchase food, drugs, and hardware and have delivery services ship the items to their door. Every acquaintance they have was found on the net, and most have never seen these people in person. They usually live in small, dark, bland cubes with nothing more than a bed, a fridge and their computer system

On the net these people are referred to as Cyber-lepers, as they are considered to be the dregs of the net and nobody want to go near them. The majority of Cyber-lepers are afflicted with severe self-esteem problems, acute paranoia,* compulsive net disorder (CND) & schizophrenia, as such they are usually unemployable and find themselves being wards of the state. The rest of the Cyber-lepers are con-artists and other "businessmen", who make on line deals and make their living exclusively on the net, again, never having to leave the confines of their quarters.

The cyber-lepers exaggerate or lie about their life and background, and can be found in the middle of flame wars on message boards and chat rooms, spouting off useless information relevant only in their mind and fighting it out with other Cyber-lepers, whose bios are equally as fabricated.

Physically the people living in a box are pale, suffer from malnutrition and are completely unsociable off of the net. Their online personality becomes their reality, since they are basically anonymous they can be anyone they want to be, usually pretending to be somebody else.

Over the years the cyber-lepers have become very good at hiding their identity, they are known for misdirecting, giving false information and toying with people who are looking for real information, usually being more of a hindrance than a real threat.

Unless they are actively searched out, Edgerunners will only run into these people online, in cyberbars, or on other places where they claim to be something they are not. If the edgerunner does not do a little research, he may be led off in a direction he doesn’t want to be led, all at the amusement of the Cyber-leper. Unfortunately because of their skills of evasion, it is almost impossible to track down the culprit.

* Compulsive net disorder - a term coined in the early 2000s by psychologists working with people whose entire state of being was wrapped around the internet. Those that suffer from the disorder felt that the Internet was their only means of happiness, similar to other compulsive addictions like gambling and alcoholism, the only true cure was to wean those afflicted from the Internet at a prescribed pace. Unfortunately, because of funding problems the disorder was never fully addressed and the number of confirmed cased has tripled in the last 5 years.

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