Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Social Media & The Troll

So last night I had an wholly unexpected development. I tweeted a comment to a certain celebrity actor and walked away from my smartphone. Half an hour later, I logged back on to Twitter only to find that my comment had created a little bit of a stir.

My tweet was: Mr. ****, please stop giving air time to these anti-fans. Their poison is doing no one any good.

Now to be fair the first replies, and by and large the majority of the replies, were positive. It was other people agreeing and understanding that the heart of the tweet was the sentiment "Do Not Feed The Trolls."

Enter the troll.

The mistake all trolls make is that they go for personal attacks. Okay, maybe that is not so much of a mistake as the hallmark of a troll. However, in my case, it is a strategy that simply does not work on me.

As a non-psychologist, I cannot say with accuracy what the motivations of trolling truly are. It certainly appears to a cry for attention and the total lack of knowing how to get it in a positive way. In that sense, I sympathize that it must be an awful existence to have as the only method of human interaction a bunch of people thinking that you are a desperate outcast being a thorn for a laugh (and at other people's expense, no less).

The tragic part of last night's interaction was that when the troll was faced with a calm and unshakable target, she spun out. The sudden and crushing realization that she was in the distinct minority and that I had not taken the bait caused her behavior to become even more chaotic and bizarre.

Now I share all this because I am worried about what this means about our world in general. The fact that we are so complacent and allow for this kind of behavior to go unchecked all of the time, I find disturbing. Mind you, in retrospect I realize the challenge of wading into the waters of social media and calling for civility is probably the definition of "shouting at the ocean."

But shouldn't we try? Shouldn't we ban together and demand that civil discourse starts with being civil?

Perhaps that is setting a high bar. However, I would rather set a high bar and fall short than set a low one and settle.

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