Monday 26 March 2012

Trolling a window on our mind and society

Trolling is the thing that trolls do. Trolls are people who disrupt online comments and dialogue with foul language and comments that are hate filled. They are written assaults on people. It is internet bullying.

It is common and widespread and website managers don't deal with it properly because there is so much of it that they can't keep track of it especially on the large social media sites.

I know that trolling hurts people. The old adage "sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me" is incorrect. The written word directed at a particular person, who is decent yet vulnerable, will be upset and indeed may become fearful for his or her safety.

Trolling is more than just casual written violence it is a window on an increasingly impolite and angry world. It is not simply impoliteness. Trolls are a kind of sociopath. They fail to understand that combative and rude comments are hurtful.

People in public normally contain their feelings and anger. For polite people it is polite to do this. For impolite people it is necessary to contain their anger as they could get into trouble with the law if they expressed it in public, in person.

But in the ether of the internet trolls feel protected and free to express their anger. They are set free to show us their lack of politeness and sociopathic tendencies. It is similar to the protection, distance and anonymity that people feel when in a car. Road rage is similar to trolling.

There is a lot of anger and fear out there and the internet is a window on it. It is being exposed by the internet. Trolling happens on my website Not that often, thankfully. I like to give people freedom to express themselves. I don't like censoring as it stunts freedom of expression. However, true trolls are banned and their comments deleted.

Fortunately the police are finally catching up with the idea that it is a crime to harass people on the internet. Trolls are realising that they aren't as protected or as anonymous as they thought. IP addresses are one element that helps to catch trolls. An IP address is a unique number assigned to a device. Big brother is watching.

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