Tag Archives: trollery

Of trolls, billy goats, and sheep…


So, I’ve spoken… well, written, typed, whatever… before about etiquette involved with the interwebs and more specifically about social media. I’ve even brushed the topic of trolls (Social Media trolling or screaming obscenities from the safety of a fortress). It has become readily apparent to anyone watching even peripherally that social media is 1) not going anywhere, and 2) boiling over with ridiculous amounts of trollery. Yep, trollery. What is trollery, you might ask? Well, I’ll tell you.

Most people define the trolling activity as that which trolls, like a ship for fish or crustaceans around in the seas of the internet looking for prey and stirring up the dregs. They lurk in forums, chat rooms, and news feeds looking for heightened emotional content. Whereupon they seize the opportunity to say/type whatever they feel will provoke a larger and more emotional response from the originator of the thread or their adjacent commentators. I imagine them reaching over and grabbing their popcorn and shoveling hands of it in their face while cackling maniacally and watching the show they created with opinions they probably never even held themselves.

The other source of trollery is that despicable and rather disgusting creature that makes their abode beneath bridges and accosts poor travelers just trying to make their way across to the other side. While the “innocent” billy goats are generally molested and munched upon like the aforementioned popcorn, the source and cause for this action seems to lack sufficient foundation to justify the hostility.

The common theme for both these definitions seems to be that the trolls in question have no real motivation in their interactions and contributions other than hurting people and stirring up their negative emotions by expressing outrageous, hyperbolic, or grossly antithetical opinions and statements to which they, the trolls, rarely adhere in their own philosophy. In other words, they’re just doing it to get a rise out of people.

Personally, I have occasionally found the observation of this practice to be entertaining; especially, when one troll happens to be trolled by another troll of equal or surpassing trolliness or snarkiness (This post is going to be full of my own new vocabulary, I think). That always makes for interesting developments and has resulted on rare instances in me being the one reaching for popcorn and cackling maniacally as they rev each other up in an incredibly inane and variably immature arms race of witticisms and false reporting. I’ve often wondered if I set up a side pool when I see these things happening with some of my other observers if we could turn it into a game. Trollery Deathmatch. I sense a reality show. It could happen. Seriously, you’ve seen some of the crap they put out there these days; don’t even tell me that people wouldn’t watch.

Now, one of the issues with trolls and their own evolution is that they don’t always ambush passing innocents or wade into the quagmires of other people’s conversations anymore. They post their wildly outrageous (and I do mean in the sense of creating outrage) diatribes and jibes upon their own pages, blogs, and feeds. They fill their metaphorical sewage lines with metric tons of garbage that assaults their followers and, dare I say it, friends, with hyperbole and blatantly polarized inappropriateness. They are frequently rewarded for their behaviors by gaining more followers… or losing friends. To them, this is a game of chicken or a stare-down contest where the hollow victory is declared when they manage to disenfranchise everyone they know.

I personally recognize the behaviors. I see it for what it is. I have developed the all time greatest ability to ignore their crap and scroll on with my life. Every once in a while, the level of @#$% that builds upon the feeds that assault my gaze get to a point that I cannot stomach any of it. At that point, I generally elect to ignore social media all together, putting the lot of them into a virtual timeout until they learn to act better… they never do really, but when the dust settles and the stench becomes less offensive, I will cautiously choose to participate once again. One of my biggest pet peeves with all the trollery in the internet, however, is that there are what I might term the collateral damage sheep or the unintentional trolls… maybe I’ll call them the treeple or the sholls. These are not the innocent billy goats that traipse along blithely and end up being outright attacked. These are the individuals who observe on the sidelines and are ignorant of the motivation and source for the spewed hyperbole and generally false information proliferated in the trollfeed. They see what is out there and assume “It’s on the internet, it must be true.” And so it goes…

The information gets passed along over and over as truth from on high. The general rule of thumb about seeing information in three or more reputable sources suddenly becomes moot. Nevermind that the origination of the data was not particularly reputable or might just be pure satire. The treeple (or sholls) have witnessed this thought, statement, story, or meme in three places that they trust and thus… it must be fact. Most of the time they have not checked the source at all, the agenda or foundation of said source, or the veracity of the sentiment. It agrees with their own philosophy or agenda and so it is as valid as they are willing to test. They post and re-post continuing to perpetuate the fraud… all the while I can hear the trolls cackling and smell burnt popcorn.

I know that in the grand scheme of things it really isn’t a drop in the ocean of what is out there posted, spoken, and written by the alleged safeguards of information (I’m talking about the media-media again). It has become harder and harder to judge what is reputable and what isn’t. News is no longer facts, but more editorializing based on the agenda of which ever viewpoint is financing their current lifestyle. The truth is no longer something you can rely upon from your tv, radio, or press. In fact, I dare say that many of the news icons today are bigger trolls that our usual trolls have ever considered becoming. However, there are still some sources you can trust. Snopes.com, FactCheck.org, PolitiFact.com, OpenSecrets.org, TruthOrFiction.com, and HoaxSlayer.com are some of the most reputable for checking the verity of your latest meme or repost before you hit “send”.

I personally am not going to say that people have to post the facts and only the facts, a joke is still a joke, and satire is still funny and poignant and makes you think… but before you pass something along or respond to the trolls in the world, take a moment to check your own agenda, facts, and purpose and whether it actually is worth your time and energy to contribute to the general nastiness that is the internet.

Social Media trolling or screaming obscenities from the safety of a fortress…


So, as many of the ramblings posted here have done before, this one takes inspiration from my experiences as well as conversations that crop up between friends. This particular one stems from a couple of different conversations, but the most recent went something like this:

Friend:  Yeah, I think people screwing with my plans is about the second or third most rage-inducing thing in life.
Me:  I sorta had gave up the rage factor on people messing with my plans about the time Saddam Hussein decided to vacation in Kuwait.
Friend:  Never give up your rage, without it, what ever would we do in traffic?
Me:  Same @#$% people do on social media, rage impotence from behind the shield of anonymity provided by computers and tinted windows?
Friend:  No, that’s for amateurs. The pros roll down their windows and make sure the intended target’s attention is well and truly garnered first.
Me:  Funny how so many get super brave and enormous social media balls fueling insults and threats and other bad manners. Yet, in person… they talk behind backs and generally smile and nod when confronted.
Friend:  It’s been a while since anyone threatened me on the social medias <sigh>.

From there we considered our mutual bent towards an unusual nature that is willing to embrace erudite vocabulary, intermittent swearing, and colorful metaphors without the benefit of shielding or anonymity. The friend’s observation is that most individuals are generally afraid of one or two things are likely outcomes in those situations: 1) actual conflict and 2) how it will make them look. For me, I tend to pick my battles. What I’ve discovered is that most of the battles in the virtual world aren’t worth my energy to have a truly emotional reaction. On the other hand, the traffic shyte… I still let rip with the best. It’s cathartic, and as long as my phone is on mute, I’ll remain employed and on good terms with my mother.

So, contrary to the behaviors of others, I’m least likely to stir the pot in the social media arena. I tend to avoid the hyperbolic and generally take a wide berth from flame wars and general trollery. Very unlike my behavior in person where my filters seem to be perennially blocked, and I’m likely to just let fly with whatever snark is lurking between my ears. The outcome is frequently unfortunate given any situation where observation will lead to less than complimentary commentary. The results are that my internal dialog choses to make itself externally present… fatigue often weighs into the balance towards a more likely chance of this occurrence. I haven’t decided if it is my general disapprobation of the cowardice inherent in that anonymity and safety of the keyboard diatribe and polite silence or if it is just a basic lack of self-preservation on my part. Given my father’s commentary on my usual modus operandi as “snatching defeat from the jaws of victory,” I’m going with the latter. Whatever the underlying cause, I would be the child at the side of the road pointing and saying “But he’s naked!” Honesty is not always the best policy. I’m learning, and it helps that frequently the overriding indolence will prevent my announcements as much as any prudence. It just simply isn’t worth my time or energy for the most part.

What IS it about humanity that they grow very large gonads when they feel they have the protection of invisibility or invulnerability? And why is it when these same types are confronted with their own flavor of incivility that they tend to run crying to whatever level of protector they can find pleading bullying and crying “FOUL”. Seriously, I’m astounded at the amount of nasty, hurtful, and semi-libelous (it is technically in print) bullpucky people fling at each other on the book of faces or twits. I cannot imagine most of said asshats having the actual (rather than virtual) cahones to say the same to someone’s face.

In the same way, I’ve actually observed people in traffic and on interstates having verbal and nonverbal seizures in response to our fellow travelers on the road. It’s times like these that make me rather wish for installed loudspeaker systems so that the targets of their ire can truly appreciate the creativity (or lack thereof). I would also like to install little electronic scoreboards so that we might give appropriate feedback. “Excellent use of extemporaneous verbiage. I give it a 8.7. Had to deduct points for lack of feasibility.”

What is completely dissimilar about the two different venues of diatribe is that most of our fellow journeymen (and women) on the road are unlikely to be aware or suffer any of the slings and arrows we spew forth in their general direction. Except in the most spiritual of ways, that verbal badinage of ill will hovers in a cloud around our own head and, for the parents in my readership, is occasionally reflected back from the mouths of babes who have overheard. The targets drive blissfully on in ignorance and probably dangerous levels of driving incompetence. On the other hand, the witting or unwitting target of hateful vocabulary flung upon the interwebs of social media and commentary are readily visible. Whether they know from whence the attack arises or not, that person is generally able to read, peruse, and commit to memory every ugly subject and predicate. Additionally, the verbal abuse flung from a car window is momentary, passing, and passes by as the car and the moment. That stuff on the webpage or text screen can be preserved for evah!

Now, for those of us healthy enough to realize that people flinging nasty at each other behind the mask of technology really should not make lasting impact on our self-esteem or psyches, it is possible to ignore…unfollow… block… and move on. But the old thing about sticks and stones isn’t entirely true. Our bodies tend to heal a good deal more quickly than our egos when words scar and threats scare. Lives have been ruined over what seems to be silly online commentary. Freedom of speech (or typing) is not freedom from consequences.

Personally, I do not think that censorship is the answer. I think common sense (which is not so very common) is a better solution. If you wouldn’t say it where someone could actually face or possibly reach you, then don’t say it. If you don’t want it recorded for posterity and possibly flung back in your face like a monkey defending territory, don’t put it on the internet. Seems pretty simple to me; which means that it will be ignored the whole way ‘round, my best guess. So, back to the end of that conversation at the beginning… it pretty much dissolved into the much more important topic of a team name. What do y’all think? Should we be the Slaughter Monkeys or Rioting Llamas? Decisions… decisions…