“If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you, But make allowance for their doubting too; If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools” IF, Rudyard Kipling
These vintage, famous words spoken from Kipling help shape my own understanding of current ‘online trends’. Trends of racism, sexism, violent threats, bullying etc on social media, video platforms and blogs are trends that are spiraling so far out of control that it can even leads to suicide. This is due to the openness of the Internet. The participatory nature of the internet as explained in previous blogs have welcomed cultures such as Remixing and Citizen Journalism. Although these cultures may carry aspects of positivity and negativity, a new, negative culture of Trolling has caught open platforms off guard! The definition of the slang term ‘Trolling’ is someone who deliberately posts an off topic, controversial and provoking comment on an online forum. Urbandictionary has a much more clear definition of trolling- “Being a pr*** on the internet because you can. Typically unleashing one or more cynical or sarcastic remarks on an innocent bystander, because it’s the internet and, hey, you can.” This colloquial definition is completely correct, it is because they can. The anonymity and lack of gatekeeping entices these internet Trolls to spread their distasteful opinions. Back in the times of solely passive consumption eg. Newspapers, there was very little access to voice an opinion. Where as now, there are very accessible portals to express an opinion. The trolls aim is to implant a chilling effect which will then discourage people’s involvement online. Some individuals have tried to find solutions to “get even” with these Internet trolls for instance by establishing the website “The Anti-Bogan”. This is basically a website to “name and shame” perpetrators of sexism, homophobia, misogynism etc in the online sphere.
This video truly showcases the characteristics of an Internet troll (even if it’s a parody). They keep themselves anonymous, they feel empowered when they post an extreme comment and they get satisfaction from backlash which is due to having a troubled upbringing . Our participatory culture is changing the world of online media, so online users should still voice their own opinions/ideas to the world. Users who post on open forums must be prepared to receive negative trolling as it is quite hard to gatekeep. In my opinion it’s the invisible responsibility you agree to when posting publicly.
The participatory nature of the online world today should welcome healthy online debates over an issue, but trolling is just one repercussion of free speech on the internet, so “If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools”, as Kipling quotes “You’ll be a man, my son!”