On Trolls and The End of the Road

by James Wasserman

There we have it, kids.   First semester is just about in the books. But since we’ll be wrapping up what we’ve learned in our presentations, lets talk a bit about trolls. If you have time, read this article from Vice where the author interviews a troll from the Web 1.0 days.

It may come off a little “Back in my day…,” but I think we need to understand that the internet and its language have both evolved. So, a troll in 2015 isn’t exactly the same as a troll was in 2005; tactics, technology, and mindset have all advanced in some way. Access to the internet has increased as well, so the “bad apple” principle is really starting to take hold.

Jamie Bartlett’s interview with a self-proclaimed troll reveals the old-school definition of the term. Not only is his cause something I think most of us call noble (“Zack is a member of several trolling groups, all of which he describes as being a kind of cyber neighborhood watch—they seek out extremist, misogynistic, or generally unpleasant communities, and bother the hell out of them”), but his tactics are much more refined than name calling.

“His favorite technique, he explained, is to intentionally make basic grammatical or spelling mistakes, wait for someone to insult his writing, and then lock them into an argument about politics.”

As I divulged to you all, I had a certain set of trolling skills, skills that I acquired over a very long career. And I used them for good – trolling the KKK. But this brings up a good (but probably not THAT relevant) point about the ethics of trolling. Is every form of trolling bad?

Just as we discussed the definition of asshole, and how its different from being a jerk, Bartlett says that “the word has become a blanket term for any hateful dickhead with a hard drive.” I wonder if the role of the troll will change in the coming years, as the internet opens up to more and more people, but becomes easier for certain entities to police.

Are there any other terms that were created by and then changed by the internet? What group or business would you troll? What person? I already told you guys about my KKK trolling, so here’s an article about my pick for person to troll.

We have 10 days before we’re back in class. Obviously, nobody has to do anything related to our classes, but if you were to, what would you do either to tie up loose ends from last semester or get a jump on the second? Do you think you’ll stop keeping up with news for Kate’s news quizzes? (Guys, don’t, news is so much fun! But honestly I probably will unless we form some sort of forum to keep up)

Keep in touch guys and HAGS!!!!