My random thought today is that the NY Times article http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/30/opinion/30zhuo.html?_r=1 just irks me. It really irks me. Bah!
For those of you who didn’t click the link, the piece concerns anonymity, mainly on the Web. “There you are,” Ms. Zhuo writes, “peacefully reading an article or watching a video on the Internet ,” and then, she continues, there appear the words of mean-hearted little trolls intent on turning your peaceful reading experience into something horrible and warlike and too awful to bear.
Get a grip, lady! Bet you got picked on in school, hmm? Poor thing. Oh, wait, me too! And seeing as how we both apparently survived that, I fail to see how “trolling” warrants an entire article in the NY friggin Times, even in the opinion pages. Yes, she deserves her opinion, but it seems more like the type of thing to discuss at a dinner table, rather than something to be considered seriously.
Soon, she attempts to smarten herself up, referencing Plato. Now, don’t get me wrong, I like most of the Greek philosophers (well, not really Aristotle, but that’s a whole other post), but I don’t necessarily agree with them all the time. “Morality, Plato argues, comes from full disclosure; without accountability for our actions we would all behave unjustly,” Zhuo writes.
Nope. Morality comes from fear of death. It has very little to do with accountability. That smidgen which is formed in response to accountability is of the kind which comes from our Gods. Not other — ahem, anonymous — Internet readers. Give me a break! Besides, what kind of people are we if we are only good because we are under threat of accountability? The big questions of why we should or shouldn’t act a certain way are not answered “because I’ll be found out if I do it wrong.” Puh-lease.
Zhuo also references psychological studies. Talk about slant. First of all, what studies? Conducted by whom, over whom, and in what instances? I hate it when vague “studies” are references as credible support to a thesis; that’s sloppy writing.
Soon, she expounds that road rage stems from anonymity. Absurd! Road rage (gratifying, isn’t it? lol) is that the driver/pedestrian/road worker/cyclist/squirrel/random cow you are mad at can’t hear what you’re saying, because you are in separate vehicles, and not because they don’t know who you are. She confuses privacy with anonymity.
And by the way, anonymity is not a new concept. Sheesh. It’s not “relatively new,” either, unless she’s speaking in terms of geological times, in which case it definitely is. In fact, one could easily argue that one possesses much less anonymity now, than in any other age.
Besides, as even this authoress notes, there is a relatively simple way to avoid this problem of “trolling.”
“But what?” you ask me, breathless.
Derrr — turning off the comment function! Or dare I even suggest—abstaining from reading those comments!
Whoa. Earth shattering, revolutionary solution.
What I find even more interesting is the general tone taken to the laws drafted in response to these Internet trolls. I know my point of view is not held by everyone, and that is a good thing. But I do feel it brushes dangerously close to ignoring our constitutional right as Americans to make it unlawful to comment in certain ways. Slander and libel are another story…but stupid little comments that most people skip reading? That’s a whole other ballpark, and ought to be treated (or ignored, rather) as such. Lumping all that together is a monstrous error.
Anyway, I find anonymity, to a certain extent, key to the Internet. Each day we learn more and more about how our Internet presence can influence a future hubby, employer, loan provider, whatever, for good or for ill. In that respect, the more anonymous one can be, the better, until we become more discerning in regards to the Internet as a populace.
I think it is important to remember that though we may connect with others via Internet, for business and pleasure and everything in between, it is not the real world. Take it with a grain of salt, folks. If you really get so terribly upset by trolling remarks, well…
Don’t. Effing. Read. Them.
If you are a parent and you worry over negative contact, take it upon yourself to control what your kid sees, if you can. I get that parents have a LOT of things from which they must protect their children, and explaining the pros and cons of how to navigate the Internet safely is bound to come into play somewhere. No, I don’t have a child. And I can only imagine how difficult it must be to deal with the perils a child can find on the Internet. But combining discipline with information and a running parent-child dialogue seems a good place to start, right?
If you’re a grown-up, and trolling nonsense isn’t ruining your career, I don’t see what the big damn deal is. By crying like a baby, the entire system is weakened, and everyone suffers.
I’ll be hanged if I’ll see the First Amendment go out the window over somebody jerking off to his ill-humored little Internet quip.
The Internet is a source of information, in the age of information itself. By trimming what comes in, we trim what we get out of it. Laws against trolls? What’s next? In Areopagitica, Milton asks what we do to our sensibilities, if we censor ourselves from things which may [or may not be] unpleasant, or evil. He then basically answers himself — we shall lose the capacity to recognize these things for what they are, and thus fall victim to them more readily, because we won’t know the proverbial snake that bites us.
I firmly, firmly believe this. Firmly.
You cannot eradicate unpleasant or uncivil behavior. To think this is possible is idiocy at its finest. Even attempting to do so would open a Pandora’s box of badness. Lol. Who decides what is uncivil? How is it enforced? What happens to those who commit to those kinds of acts unknowingly, or on accident?
It’s not like we’re talking about murder! We’re talking about the comment function on webpages!
It just made me mad. Please feel free to comment and argue with me. But be warned, you evil, conniving, life-ruining trolls. If I don’t like your shit, I will delete you. Muahh, haaa, haaaa, haaaaaaa!