God, I love trolls.
I say that because honestly, deep down, most people love them too and not for the reason we think. It starts with the simple admission of fact that everyone has trolled before and while they may not have necessarily done so online, we’ve all messed with someone else just to get a rise out of them; just for shits and giggles. And in that moment we laugh to ourselves and are dumbfounded by the fact that this stranger online can’t figure out that you’re just screwing around and trying to upset them…until we’re on the other side of the trolling. Suddenly, we’re unable to see that someone is trolling us because we’re so emotionally attached to the story or discussion that we expect rational conversation.
I’ve always seen the relationship with trolling as the same with drivers and pedestrians. When I’m driving, every pedestrian is the slowest god damn human being on earth and when I’m just trying to walk, every car is out of Tokyo Drift and it seems like they’re actually speeding up to run me over.
More important than the relationship with, or rather our inability to distinguish, trolls online is that trolling is a needed reminder to not be such a douche. It takes one complete a-hole to help keep us all in line and that one person can make the internet both a horrible and better place.
In a recent Atlantic article, Adrienne LaFrance describes how trolling online is expected to get worse in the future.
[Pew] Researchers surveyed more than 1,500 technologists and scholars…They asked: “In the next decade, will public discourse online become more or less shaped by bad actors, harassment, trolls, and an overall tone of griping, distrust, and disgust?”…81 percent of them said they expect the tone…will either stay the same or get worse in the next decade.
Why? Why does everyone think online harassment will stay the same or get worse in the coming years? My “please everyone/don’t make waves” opinion would be something along the lines of “Well as the world becomes more connected, more opinions and ideas are spread and faster so it’s no surprise that unpleasant people will become more prevalent online” or some bullshit like that.
The real truth, is that our leaders and role models are complete trolls. We not live in the age where our President, probably the #1 role model for respect, honor, and decency in the U.S., engages in regular twitter wars and trolls the American population on a daily basis. If the President is basically condoning this sort of behavior, why wouldn’t there be more of it? Liberals love reminding Conservatives that they’re uneducated and blind to human decency and Conservatives love preaching that Liberals are free-loving wastes on society who want to smoke weed and have as much free sex as possible. In the end, we’re all terrible people but if elected leaders and role models can’t rise above it all, then yeah, we’re all screwed.