Smithers, release the trolls

With reference to the Reddit/Atheism femsplosion. (Though truth be told, I’m beginning to suspect Rebedda Watson is a professional troll).

Sorry ladies but your internet problems aren’t special.

The internet is often a foul, horrible, disgusting dose of pure, unalloyed, Freudian id (which is part of what makes it so fascinating). It’s a constant confirmation of Gabriel’s Greater Internet Fuckwad theory (Anonymity + Audience = Shitcock) but this obnoxious, nasty, horrific behaviour is both a great strength of the internet and is applied to everyone.

Whatever it is you regard as BAAAWWWW worthy, the trolls will find and will go after you with. If you’re a girl who reacts like to inappropriate comments in the way an Ayatollah might react to the Playboy Mansion they’re going to find that button and push it hard.

Yes that’s terrible, yes that’s awful, no, it’s not unique.

If you’re gay (or even a ‘breeder’ in some quarters) it’ll be that. If you have long hair or a buzzcut. If you’re in the military, or not. If you’re liberal, or conservative. Whatever you are, whatever you do, someone will find a way to get on at you for that. If you’re male or white you’ll get shit on just the same as if you’re black or yellow or brown or whatever else.

Everybody is fair game to internet trolls, no exceptions. It’s like Rule 34 for abuse. Most of them are just looking to shock, to get a rise and by far the best thing you can generally do is to ignore the fuckers.

An anecdote isn’t worth anything statistically, but for what it’s worth I have had plenty of death threats, attempted boycotts, people trying to interfere with my workplace or get me fired, stalking behaviour, DOS, hacking, inappropriate comments, barrages of look-alike porn, horrific spamming containing pictures of animal abuse and many others sorts of horrible online abuse.

This… bullshit that goes on is not special or unique to women, racial minorities, sexual proclivities or anything else.

It happens to everyone.

To be absolutely clear to people who love to push my particular button of taking anything I say the wrong way (or not reading it at all), I’m not saying this is a good thing or even an acceptable thing. I’m just saying its not a feminist/racist/etc issue, rather it’s an INTERNET issue.

I don’t know what the solution is but dividing the community into subsets and feeding the trolls with delicious, delicious fem-rage certainly isn’t it.

You can always block/ban/report but the problem with that is that people often silence meaningful dissent and valid alternate points of view by these methods, creating ‘echo chambers’ that only reinforce their own beliefs and that leads to extremism.*

I don’t know if there even is a solution that can, at the same time, preserve the eminently valuable nature of the internet as an anonymised and distanced communication medium. One need only examine the problems G+ has had with the Nymwars to see just how much people value their online identities and anonymity.

http://www.yalelawjournal.org/the-yale-law-journal/content-pages/deliberative-trouble?-why-groups-go-to-extremes/
http://fathom.lib.uchicago.edu/1/777777122307/
http://bostonreview.net/BR26.3/sunstein.php

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