If you remember the hype about the internet connecting the world, you may be amazed to learn that trolls were never predicted. In this neo-McCarthyist environment of harassment, it seems an odd omission of judgment. Paid trolls are a major industry.
A level of resistance has been created, inefficiently and slowly, but the trolls are now in their necrotic heyday. So are their regressive sponsors. The return to primitivism has been a global phenomenon. These clueless clowns are the school bullies, reborn as trolls. They’re two dimensional, surreal, and arguably insane, despite their paid status.
Any basic communications workshop will tell you that any form of communication is based on a variable knowledge base. Some people need baby talk; some can’t stand it. Some resist information, simply because they don’t know how to adapt it to their knowledge bases.
Ignorance and troll basics
The internet, which is a mix of expertise and interests, is an environment in which some very basic, if very old, bullying techniques work well against user ignorance. These techniques are learned. For example – Make an irrational, polarizing assertion, and the inexperienced will try to deal with it, instead of running it over. Many people try to figure out why these situations arise, rather than taking the more practical option of simply shutting down the trolls.
Note the difference – The assumption, totally incorrect, of a rationale behind what is basically irrational behavior. I’ve had a few experiences in which I chose to confront the trolls, and like school bullies, they backed off. I didn’t (and don’t) give a damn about any possible rationale; I write a lot of op-eds, and if someone thinks my opinions can be changed by a thread full of political or other bullshit, they’re out of their minds.
Admittedly, I’m very pushy and aggressive, and the way I react probably wouldn’t be a very comfortable response for others. My observation, though, is that browbeaters and other trolls don’t have a lot of substance or stamina. It’s like hitting a soap bubble. They don’t know how to deal with a situation where they have no effect at all.
Paid trolls – A study in ignorance
The average troll is no major feat of intellect on any level. They tend to be copycats, with no real spark of originality, as individual operators. As paid trolls, they stick to scripts. They even use exactly the same phrases, targeting homophobia, racism, hatred of the poor, etc. It’s a virtual keyword list for the current 2016 election campaign, which has resurrected every right wing troll cliché in the last 8 years. Originality isn’t their forte.
The revelations of paid trolls are like “confessions of a salesman” with an ugly twist or many. Third parties act as proxies for political interests, for example, changing their names and dodging identification. Some democracy, eh?
Troll techniques include responding to specific cues, and other spontaneous outbreaks of personal sincerity. The whole process is whitewashed with “our opponents play dirty” (ever see a liberal who could be bothered?) and essentially a macro for online behavior.
Expert online bloggers looking for work have encountered pay-for-trolling ads with regularity.Can this be ignorance? It is, ironically, in that the need to pay people to agree with their views obviously hasn’t rung any bells with troll sponsors. They’re paying people who don’t believe a word of it to be trolls promoting their “views”. FOX news has been outed, with some credibility, in this regard. (So who’s surprised? These people have never been anywhere near reality, why start now?)
The real effects of trolling apply to those who are actually influenced by this ridiculous, rabid, and totally fake behavior. “Some of the people, all of the time”, in effect. Weak people, lost people, those ignorant of the realities of this fake fanaticism, it’ll always hit a few.
The effect in political terms is totally disproportionate. Hysteria based on bogus personal views is absurd, but it happens. The mindless mobs in the 2016 elections, including a lot of people who obviously can barely read or understand simple sentences, are indicative. This is ignorance, incarnate. (It’s also the price of insane education policies. You can’t be this ignorant without some help, these days.)
The setting sun of Trolldom
That trolls are effective is undeniable. Obnoxious and gutless as they are, they do a lot of damage. Trolling kids’ Facebook pages is perhaps the lowest of the low. The fact that the self-important internet doesn’t deign to do much about this very common practice is indicative of another type of very insular ignorance from people who should know a lot better.
That’s likely to change, and quite rightly, probably brutally. There are enough grounds for legal action in this area to drive a fleet of aircraft carriers through. Forget the theory about immunity from legal liabilities for websites. There’s no such law, anywhere on Earth. Nor are the trolls themselves immune. There’s no service agreement on Earth which protects them; most service agreements, in fact, stipulate conduct rules.
Trolls can be identified, even using botnets. Arguably, the average botnet is a defining DNA sample for anyone operating it. I’m not going to explain how, (why give these bastards any warning?) but it’s a LEGO-like process. Just about anyone with experience managing a troll-besieged website forum (I’ve done it myself) could tell you how.
Ignorance is its own greatest liability. There’s money to be made in anti-troll operations. Think of the publicity, the market credibility, and the related benefits alone. Merchandising, website management software, you name it; it’s a few billion for the taking, at the trolls’ expense.
The trolls and their handlers have made themselves valuable targets. One bit of case law will kill the sponsors, and the rest will run for their lives. The personal troll culture, which was always a load of crap, will be history, killed off in the process by better options for those being trolled.
Put it this way – If you could make $500,000 in a pro bono, bona fide class action against trolls and/or their corporate sponsors, would you be in it? So would the rest of the world. Compensation for what is basically a type of assault is normal legal practice. There are no hard legal issues; it’s just a matter of proof. Expect a stampede when the dam breaks.
The future of Trolldom is extinction, and good riddance. Ignorance and the promoters of ignorance deserve whatever they get.