Monday, 13 October 2014

The Truth About Internet Trolls

Happy Monday everyone! I decided to write this post because recently there have been some very high profile cases about internet trolling in the news, and I have a few things to say about this fairly new phenomenon in our lives. Trolling isn't exclusive to celebrities of course-nowadays pretty much everyone has some form of content on the internet. Whether it's pictures on Instagram and Facebook, your own blog, or your opinions on twitter, without meaning to promote yourself or sell a product you can easily end up having lots of information about yourself online without thinking much of it. Being a performer and having been in a band before, I've actively promoted myself online for years in the form of Youtube videos, blog posts, and being a part of various social networks. For me, negative comments are of course part of the territory-not everyone will like what you are promoting, and some people like to be mean for a laugh...

 Thanks to networks like Twitter, we have the ability to directly contact people in a way we were never able to before, and we can do it anonymously. Internet trolls make full use of this, and wherever you see negative or insulting comments on the internet, the perpetrator will usually be anonymous. They will set up names that have no connection to their real identity and not provide any information about themselves. When we think of a troll we might picture something like the above picture. After all, surely you'd have to be green with pointed ears and be straight from the depths of hell to be able to put the kind of mean and often evil comments we see online right? If only that were the truth! Unfortunately internet trolls look more like you and me. And by that, I don't mean that they parade themselves in human form. I mean, they probably don't even think of themselves as trolls. 

We all have conversations with friends in the privacy of our own homes which we might not want broadcast to the world. Everyone has an opinion on everything, but that doesn't mean we would necessarily say those things to a persons face. For example I might randomly chat with my friend about a certain celebrity's new hairstyle or how much weight they've lost, or the new person they're dating. But it's just idle chatter about someone I don't know, someone I see all the time online and in the news. The trouble is, people get too comfortable with sharing that idle chatter because it's so easy to do it now! It's easy for someone to forget that they don't ACTUALLY know these celebrities or people in the public eye and therefore don't really have the right to impose their opinions on their lives. But they end up putting the @ sign in front of the name and before you know it, this regular person who has a good job and is educated has just gone and said something really stupid and mean spirited to someone and broadcast it to the world. It's that easy to be a troll. Just simply forgetting that you don't really know this person. Now there's a fine line-everyone has the right to an opinion of course especially as we are constantly bombarded with information about celebrities and also our peers. If it's there on the screen and it has a comments section, of course you have the right to voice if you don't like it. However. My thinking is this-if I don't like something, why am I going to comment on it? It's just entertainment. For example if I go to Youtube and watch Katy perry's new video but don't like it, why would I then write a comment about not liking it? I wouldn't, I just move on to something I do like. Because I have that choice. There's a fine line between having an opinion and just being mean. 

Opinion- "I'm not feeling this film, it's not my cup of tea"
Trolling- "This song is a piece of shit, and  @***** is really ugly."

See what I mean? Why would you bother sharing that?

It's so easy to flippantly criticise people online, and just casually abuse people but there can be really serious consequences that people just don't consider. The victims of the abuse are usually the ones who suffer, but just recently in the media we heard about a retired lady who has committed suicide after being called out on being a twitter troll by news reporters. There are no winners when it comes to trolling.

Anita xxx

p.s I have no Katy Perry issues-it was just an example! :-D