WASHINGTON — Gen. Robert Neller, the 37th Commandant of the Marine Corps, is on a mission to stamp out online misconduct in the ranks — a topic he feels well-qualified to discuss despite never having owned a social media account or posting to an Internet message board.
Neller, who was 32-years-old when the classic video game Oregon Trail was released for the Apple IIc, recently spoke to an audience of Marines who were five-years-old when Mark Zuckerberg launched Facebook.
“When you’re out there on the AOL Instant Messenger or the Myspace or the ClapSnap or whatever, you gotta behave yourselves. No poking, Pokemon, enough…poking each other is what got us into this mess,” Neller said, according to two sources who were present.
Critics have asked if Neller, who like most generals did not maintain any social media presence due to fears it may hurt his career, was qualified to talk about matters related to the Internet.
“People ask me if I’m down with Internet lingo or if I’m some new…noob…Nubian or whatever. But I stay away from all that Internet smut,” Neller told reporters. “I try to look at things that are more wholesome. Like, the other day, someone told me to check out a video about two girls and a cup. What could be more wholesome than that?”
Neller’s confusion comes at a time when American society is still grappling with many legal and ethical issues surrounding our ever-increasing interaction on the internet, including cyber stalking, harassment, and privacy.
“Sometimes I hear there are Marines out there pretending they’re women so they can spear-fish people,” said an exasperated Neller, apparently confusing spearfishing with catfishing.
Neller, who is one year away from being a senior citizen, deflected criticism that perhaps the Marine Corps abysmal track record of female integration — the worst in the Armed Forces — was the root cause of the “Marines United” scandal.
“Fucking millennials and their smart phones,” he spat.
Besides tackling social media policy, Neller will also testify soon to the House Armed Services Committee on amphibious operations — a topic his aides hope he may offer more insight on, given the Marine Corps’ history of beach landings and maritime operations being carried out in Iraq and Afghanistan for nearly two decades.