Um, okay but who are the Trolls?
Firstly an apology for the hiatus over the last 10 months or so. Exams are now over and I am back in the game!
Let’s dive straight in; on to trolls (internet trolls; we don’t need to delve too far into folklore today…unless you want to?).
So, what are trolls? Livewire.com says “an Internet troll is a member of an online social community who deliberately tries to disrupt, attack, offend or generally cause trouble within the community by posting certain comments, photos, videos, GIFs or some other form of online content.”
I would agree with that definition. However it does lead me to consider how far one can go in enjoying their freedom of speech/ expression before they are labelled a ‘troll’.
This year so far has been ripe with controversy and with tragedy; and I think you would agree that this is a perfect breeding ground for trolls. You only need to go as far as the comments in any article on Facebook for example, and you’ll find a mini-battle of opinion, with the label ‘troll’ cast about all over.
Is that trolling though? If someone has an opinion that differs to yours, or that you find offensive… is that trolling? Don’t get me wrong I totally disagree with most of the comments I have seen where people are accused of “Trolling”, but their actual opinion is just…their opinion. And they have a right to that, whether it offends us or not.
I appreciate that these people appear to cast aside sensitivity or appropriateness when speaking their opinion, but that only makes them insensitive and indelicate, and potentially ignorant; not trolls. We can label their views extreme, or conservative, or liberal or whatever floats your boat to distance them from our own; but that does not mean that they are posting just to cause trouble. They may be aware that their opinion will provoke a reaction… but hey they are protected by a computer screen as the trolls are. Again; does that make them “Trolls”?
Perhaps trolling is based on motive rather than view. However how does one distinguish one from the other? Arguably it is wholly inappropriate to make certain unhelpful, disturbing or distasteful comments in the wake of a tragedy, and people who make those comments must brace themselves for the inevitable backlash. But if that is legitimately their opinion- should they be allowed to express it?
As a friend rightly said: “Why have a comments section if we can’t really comment?”
Perhaps the label itself doesn’t matter. My thinking here is that when skimming through comments sections, people try to shut others down from expressing themselves (rightly or wrongly) by shouting TROLL.
Should we be able to try to censor others beliefs via a social media generated tool like that, when it could be stifling others freedom to share their opinion, and to discuss it, and potentially change it?
Alternatively it could be freedom of speech gone mad and we shouldn’t allow people to make derogatory or offensive comments online at all. Oooh controversial! But somehow that is too wide and scary, and we probably can’t comprehend the consequences of such drastic action, other than that we might enter into a sort of 1984-esque dystopia, where I get dragged from my home and arrested for stating online that I didn’t like the look of someone’s tattoo. #awks.
What do you think?
Are we using the label “Troll” too loosely to describe anyone who dares challenge our opinions/ beliefs?
Or are people who post in an insensitive or distasteful way “Trolls” simply because they would post a potentially offensive opinion online ‘too soon’ in a controversial or tragic circumstance.
Or… is everyone that doesn’t agree with us generally a Troll?
P.S If you see something online which is really bad, you can always report the comment or post, which I find quite reassuring. 🙂