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- Jul 18, 1998
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Very good article from Time magazineDiscourse on the internet is declining precipitously. And modern social media has made the hatred and ignorance much more difficult to tune out. The worst thing the internet ever did was give everyone a voice. It's readily apparent that there are those among us too full of hate and stupidity to deserve to be heard or acknowledged. And yet somehow, they have become the loudest voices of all.
I think it was James Cameron who once said the most wrong he'd ever been about something was about the internet. He believed it would connect the world and create a way to bridge gaps in culture, race, gender, etc. And, to his dismay, what actually happened was the opposite: it created countless echo chambers, where people could seek out like minded individuals and shut out everything they didn't agree with. And the result of that was increased hostility and extremism towards anyone that wasn't like-minded. This is one manifestation of that, but you see it in other ways, too. And the thing is, the logical, well thought out side is going to lose these kinds of interactions. You can't convince the loud, angry side to believe anything other than what they believe, and they're going to be able to make your day worse than you can make theirs, at least as far as the internet and social media go. It's really just a toxic, pathetic situation.
This story is not a good idea. Not for society and certainly not for me. Because what trolls feed on is attention. And this little bit–these several thousand words–is like leaving bears a pan of baklava.
It would be smarter to be cautious, because the Internet’s personality has changed. Once it was a geek with lofty ideals about the free flow of information. Now, if you need help improving your upload speeds the web is eager to help with technical details, but if you tell it you’re struggling with depression it will try to goad you into killing yourself. Psychologists call this the online disinhibition effect, in which factors like anonymity, invisibility, a lack of authority and not communicating in real time strip away the mores society spent millennia building. And it’s seeping from our smartphones into every aspect of our lives.
The people who relish this online freedom are called trolls, a term that originally came from a fishing method online thieves use to find victims. It quickly morphed to refer to the monsters who hide in darkness and threaten people. Internet trolls have a manifesto of sorts, which states they are doing it for the “lulz,” or laughs. What trolls do for the lulz ranges from clever pranks to harassment to violent threats. There’s also doxxing–publishing personal data, such as Social Security numbers and bank accounts–and swatting, calling in an emergency to a victim’s house so the SWAT team busts in. When victims do not experience lulz, trolls tell them they have no sense of humor. Trolls are turning social media and comment boards into a giant locker room in a teen movie, with towel-snapping racial epithets and misogyny.
They’ve been steadily upping their game. In 2011, trolls descended on Facebook memorial pages of recently deceased users to mock their deaths. In 2012, after feminist Anita Sarkeesian started a Kickstarter campaign to fund a series of YouTube videos chronicling misogyny in video games, she received bomb threats at speaking engagements, doxxing threats, rape threats and an unwanted starring role in a video game called Beat Up Anita Sarkeesian. In June of this year, Jonathan Weisman, the deputy Washington editor of the New York Times, quit Twitter, on which he had nearly 35,000 followers, after a barrage of anti-Semitic messages. At the end of July, feminist writer Jessica Valenti said she was leaving social media after receiving a rape threat against her daughter, who is 5 years old...............
How Trolls Are Ruining the Internet | TIME