Adrienne BoettingerTuesday,13 August 2013

The Snap:

Sticks and stones may break my bones but anonymous comments about raping someone are sick. What is it about the Interwebz that brings out the worst in people? Is it the anonymity? The ability to say whatever you want, whenever you want, secure in the knowledge that no one will come to your sad, sad basement lair and find you? Are the people that go beyond negative comments to threatening physical harm to their victims — are those people inherently evil, psychopathic, bored, or do they masquerade IRL as harmless everyday humans?

The Download:

For giggles, to check the arrogant, boredom, expression of creativity, social criticism: these are some of the reasons that some trolls have spouted off for why they do that magic they do.  I could live 1000 years and never understand how any of those things validate threatening to rape someone or savagely attacking online memorials.

What provokes the ire of trolls? It’s difficult to say.  Sometimes it’s asserting that women should have some rights, other times its proposing that Jane Austen appear on the 10-pound note, and other times it’s that a teenager killed herself after having videos of men raping her while she was unconscious posted online. And still other times it’s just posting a menu of a restaurant. There really doesn’t seem to be rhyme or reason.

And no one really knows who these trolls are. I mean, sure, authorities have tracked down a few who were extremely graphic in their threats and a British boxer put out a Twitter bounty for people to help him identify the troll attacking him, but more frequently trolls go unidentified.  I say most of the time because many sites require a log-on so it’s not impossible to find out their identities.

Trolling isn’t a new phenomenon. The Atlantic Wire makes a decent case for trolls being modern day witch-hunters. Crowd mentality also plays a role; people tend to be a lot more brazen with their awfulness when they’re cloaked in a group of like-minded asshats.

So what’s the answer? There is a growing cry to do away within online anonymity. Others want sites to aggressively monitor for and then block trolls. The advice I’ve most commonly seen is to ignore them. But when they’ve been shown to be the cause of several suicides, is ignoring them a viable option?

Although I still think I’d make a pretty awesome Queen of Everything, I don’t have the magic solution.  I do know that the Internet isn’t the cause; it’s just the medium. People have to have these ideas of hatred and violence in order to express them. Sometimes, the best way to shine a light on hatred and intolerance is to open people up to new experiences and new encounters. Ironically, the Internet is a great way to do this.

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Hat Tips:

SlateSalonMashableThe GuardianCNNMarketplaceJezebelBuzzfeed, Image Credit: Flickr

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