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why "don't feed the trolls" is stupid - Asa

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April 28th, 2016


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11:54 am - why "don't feed the trolls" is stupid
It's sadly, strangely common for people who socialize on the Internet to think that their particular region of the online world has the same rules as everywhere else... but something I see just about everywhere, going back to the days of newsgroups, is don't feed the trolls. It seems to be regarded as an impermeable rule of the Internet, and yet I think it's massively, harmfully stupid.

To boil it down, it goes like this: Some mentally damaged person wants to provoke an argument, because making people angry gives them pleasure, because they are mentally damaged. Of course, in modern quasijournalism, clickbait writers know that if their headline contains "troll" in it people will be drawn to it, so its meaning has expanded to mean someone who pulls a prank or someone who says impolite things or someone who disagrees with me. For some people, don't feed the trolls means don't interact with anyone who doesn't treat me like a god, and that's its own illness.

I'm not boiling this down very well.

Anyway, on the subject of sadistic provocateurs, they're just playing a stupid game. The DFTT wisdom says, YOU MUST DO EVERYTHING IN YOUR POWER TO PREVENT THIS POINTLESS PERSON FROM WINNING A POINTLESS GAME. If we don't want to lose, we have to change the way we think and the way we talk to people so that it fits around the design trolls have laid out for us. That doesn't sound like winning to me.

Plus this encourages us to say any interaction we don't like is trolling. I see accusations of trolling leveled at people all the time and they're almost always without merit. The general consensus seems to be that anyone who is different from us is obviously a troll, ugh, so obvious. It never occurs to us that this person might be confused, or drunk, or new, or bad at English, or suffering from a different mental illness than our own. If you've ever observed someone and thought, "No one could really be that stupid," your understanding of humanity is severely lacking.

I wish I could come up with a better word than "stupid", because it doesn't really mean anything, because everyone is gloriously stupid in their own dumb way, especially the people who've convinced themselves they aren't. I just wish I were less stupid so I could think of a better word. Maybe "foolish" but that doesn't seem to mean to most people what it does to me.

I think we should treat people as they present themselves. Obviously don't go overboard with anger, but if someone says something ridiculous and we respond to them in earnest, we haven't really lost anything if they're just messing with us. If they're being genuine, both of you might even gain something.

I keep thinking of things I want to write in here but I never get around to it. I'm glad I finally got something out, even though I'm sure I've said stuff like this here before.

I just went through and replaced most of the quotation marks with italic tags. How interesting.
Current Music: John Vanderslice - The Parade

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