August 3, 2010

Loud, Proud and....Anonymous

An article today in Salon (please, somebody save that place from the slide into the bog it is becoming) about online forums. I've written about it before; I'll no doubt write again. When you have your own little forum where you serve tea and cookies, you get to ruminate on them. The forums - not the cookies.

Matt Zoller Seitz takes a different tact. He notes that he likes the trollish waters of unmonitored forums because there is a truth to them. You get to see the pale, greasy underbelly that makes up the Great Unspoken. It rips off the political correctness we hide behind like an old bandaid, and the resulting wound is who we really are.

Meh. Maybe.

I've found that usually the trolls are prolific little buggers. One troll, labouring intensely at his/her keyboard, can do the work of a hundred other gainfully employed, happily motivated people who spend their time getting about the business of well, living. It only takes one turd in the pool to wreck the afternoon for everyone. I don't think it is really indicative of a bunch of people who are actually just dying to crap in the pool, but are withholding out of social pressure. Some people just want to swim.

Anonymity has its place. I do agree with this. Fear of repercussion for speaking out has silenced many good people. If anonymity can be protective in the quest for good, I'm all for it. If anonymity provides a cloak for cowards, well, that's a whole 'nother argument.

I don't get tons of troll mail. I get some. My Blame it on Lorraine section on my site comes into a blind email. No return address. This is so people can be honest about personal issues, ask for some help, and not reveal who they are. I set it up that way on purpose. Well, Webgod did. But who they are isn't relevant to the issue. What I like? The mail that comes into that address telling me I'm horrid, or my favourite, ugly. I'm a writer. I can be ugly. Big deal. Someone the other day called me a yummy mummy, which made me smile. Some people are too cowardly to tell me they hate me; some are too shy to tell me they like me.

Every online forum that isn't monitored has its trolls. It's easy to get your blood up when reading some of the tripe. That's the point: they're going for retaliation, for attention. They want you to get angry. But without fail, if you take a boo at when they post, you'll notice something. They post all the time, on every topic, around the clock. I wish they'd take the dog for a walk instead. Get a coffee. Fix the back deck. Get a plant. Put new laces in their shoes. Take up needlepoint. Anything.

And not for me, the reader. But for them. The trolls. The internet has produced something I think is more insidious, more dangerous. When a bunch of these trolls find each other, it's like a bunch of white supremacists setting up camp. Might makes right. When they continually see their froth in print, it reinforces that they are right. And yes, sadly, there are many, many people who believe that publishing unmonitored stuff on the internet is 'publishing'.

Trying to shut them up is like playing Whack-a-mole with Medusa. So balanced people give up, and the freaks run up the scoreboard. But as I've said repeatedly, silence is a great weapon. My favourite thing to see is commenters ignoring the turd in the pool.

Well, you know what I mean.

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Blogger OmemeeOzzie said...

Trying to shut them up is like playing Whack-a-mole with Medusa? Lovely imagery! Not too shabby for a UYM!

August 03, 2010 11:56 AM  
Anonymous B1 said...

"Yummy mummy"? Whoa.

Spent some (OK, a lot) of time in seedy bars rubbing shoulders with the great unwashed. Trolls are the online equivalent of the half-drunk whackjobs who spouted nonsense, spewed hate and generally made things difficult for anyone with an IQ in the high double digits.

You're right, though -- ignoring them usually worked.

August 03, 2010 12:25 PM  
Blogger Lorraine said...

I am aware that 'yummy mummy' is a reach.

But I reserve the right to listen to the half-drunk whackjobs when it suits me....hee.

August 03, 2010 12:27 PM  
Anonymous buzzwhack said...

I didn't know they were called trolls.Does that mean they live in Sweden near Trollhatten and make Saabs? If so, I'm starting to understand why that car is the way it is. Ignition on the floor? Must have very short arms..and very long feet!Hmm, maybe they look like Kelpies?Or an Edward Gorey creature.But I digress...

August 03, 2010 3:23 PM  
Blogger Deven said...

There are those of us working tirelessly to reform the image of the troll. ::cough::

August 03, 2010 5:18 PM  
Blogger Lorraine said...

Deven - I tossed this onto Twitter and even said 'no offense to Freaky...'

August 03, 2010 5:20 PM  
Anonymous B1 said...

Actually, I thought "yummy mummy" was appropriate.

(Hey, Deven)

August 04, 2010 10:52 AM  
Blogger DJW said...

There's cookies?

Nobody told me there was cookies.


August 04, 2010 1:42 PM  
Blogger OmemeeOzzie said...

No DJ, only tequila and doughnuts (donuts)...

August 04, 2010 5:29 PM  
Blogger Lorraine said...

Tequila & Donuts (aka Deven) is an awesome writer.... nobody cracks me up more.

August 04, 2010 5:31 PM  
Blogger DJW said...

So, no cookie?


August 04, 2010 7:35 PM  

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