I tried an experiment for a few weeks by getting a user account on the local paper and entering the commenting game in its readers’ forum.. I did this because I have watched posts on letters to the editor and guest columns I have written. I thought it meant something to get a lot of comments on a piece. I now know better.
What I ran into was interesting. I now have a good feeling for what Troll is, not just a definition of words on a page, but from interacting with a number of them.
There were several groups. Some were fervent right-wingers, some on the other fringe. There were a couple of conspiracy theorists who should write books on their theories except that the suspension of disbelief might be too hard to maintain. Many saw a single topic in everything in the paper—one guy saw abortion in everything, which just astounded me. A goodly portion were of the “Obama is a Kenyan Mulsim Communist whose goals are to control every part of every one’s life and to destroy the American Way in all forms. ” crowd A few were interesting, thoughtful and non-combative. There was a lot of name calling and a couple of posters tried and failed at irony and satire.
I wrote the forum off, a couple of weeks ago and stopped participating. Then I read that the paper will start requiring posters to use their real names. From what I saw perusing their comments the last couple of days, it seems most will stop posting for various reasons—fear of getting fired from their day job (some are on all day every day posting) because of their opinions, others say they are afraid of the “loonies” tracking them down (now this is ironic) if their names are known. My name of course appears with every letter and column and so far (with one notable exception), I have not had to deal with any loonies tracking me down or making my work life difficult.
So, that is what I have been doing. Wasting time, maybe, but learning also. What I will do with the learning, I do not yet know.
Maybe the words will start again soon.
picture is from here http://miista.com/trolls-the-anon-phenomenon/