Feeding the trolls

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I feel as though I do one of these kinda rants on a yearly basis. Feel free to skip it if you’ve heard it before.

There is something about the seasonal change that brings about a certain vibe on the internet. Perhaps it’s just me, but the climate on my social networks has been cloudy with a chance of dickheads lately. Now, this could be entirely self imposed , as my twitter and facebook are common place for me just saying some dumb shit. Typically, they are things we call “jokes” and they’re harmless but , hey, we all have our triggers and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t them expect to get a slight rise out of some people. It also doesn’t help that popping off at the mouth is so easy now. There was a time when, if someone said something publicly that upset another person, the outraged person would have to go home, type up a strongly worded letter on an actual typewriter (or even handwrite it!) and send it to the person via actual mail. I’m guessing, in most cases, this arduous process led to that outrage never leaving the person’s typewriter and vanishing into the ether. Today though? Wooooo! If I write “I think red starbursts taste better than orange starbursts”, everyone on earth has the power to tell me I’m a stupid piece of shit within seconds of reading those very words. We’ve come a long way, guys.

In my everyday life, I’m a very non-confrontational person. I avoid arguments. Especially petty ones. But there is something about some smug prick on his phone or laptop , typing a snarky remark to a stranger that no one asked for that just cannot be ignored. So I rarely do ignore them. If , for no other reason, to say to them “Hey dick, I actually read this shit…stop being an asshole”. Sure, I could be a bigger person and ignore it. I probably should be. But, to me, that just justifies their behavior. I realize this all comes off as overly sensitive. But I feel it’s more about justice and breaking down peoples entitlement. The truth of it all is I’m never sitting here with my feelings hurt. I barely even have “feelings”. Some dude tells me my music sucks, I don’t wallow and question my self worth. I’d more likely write him “was that necessary?” cause, well, it never is. I suppose it has more to do with me wishing people would think before they write. I want to live in a world where people consider the things they say before pressing “send”. It’s bigger than me ever being “offended” or “Butt hurt”. It’s about common decency towards complete strangers. Add in that these people are often fans of mine and it’s even crazier but I guess that’s equally part of the problem. People feel entitled to let the world know every fucking thought they have and, really, no one needs to hear that from anyone. From a loser on twitter with one follower to Kanye west to Obama. Some thoughts should just stay inside forever for the betterment of all parties involved.
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The funniest thing about responding to people who troll on the internet is that, about 50% of the time, they are like “Whoa, I didn’t think you’d respond! Thanks!”. And therein lies the problem. That means they’re doing it just to do it. Cause they can. It’s like going up to someone and slapping them then thanking them for punching you in return. I guess my brain doesn’t work like that. I’ve never craved negative attention from strangers or, especially, from an artist I might admire. But the lines of communication are such that it’s too easy. Sometimes I think about what life is like for actual famous people. At some point, they must just stop looking at anything related to them cause the things people say are so loathsome. Like, I think Kim Kardashian is probably a shitty human being. But can you , for one moment, imagine being her while she reads her instagram comments? She must weep constantly. And you may be saying “But you just called her a piece of shit!”. Yes, I kinda did. But i didn’t write it directly to her or tag her in this post to make sure she’d see it. That’s the difference between going out of your way to be spiteful and simply voicing an opinion. It’s funny cause, it’s human nature to focus on the negative. You could hear 100 nice things said about you but that one shitty comment will be the one that sticks in your craw. It’s just how we’re wired.

Now, I’m writing this to somewhat vent but to also point something out to all the trolls out there. This is a two way street. Just as you are allowed to say whatever you want to me, I’m allowed to return the favor. In fact, if you open a negative dialogue directly with me based on something I said that wasn’t personally aimed at you, all bets are off. I can simply defend myself, block you, ban you, or just let you know you’re being an asshole and move on. If those things happen, you should not be surprised cause, after all, I’m a reactionary human being just like you. There’s a common response of the troll where they come back at a retort like “Why do you even care? I’m a nobody!”. Well, that’s exactly why I care. People think just cause they are a faceless twitter handle or a lonely facebook account that they don’t matter. I would argue they do matter. Not cause they’re important (They’re clearly not. None of us really are in the bigger picture). They matter cause we live in a time where EVERY voice is heard. While the troll may think his/her existence is a blip, their voice is echoing just as loud as the person with 1000 followers. By chiming in and coming at someone directly, you are entering the conversation, regardless of your personal status. That said, there is something kinda sad about a person who creates social media accounts just to bust peoples balls. They are worse than people on “catfish”. At least those people are somewhat looking for love.

I’d also like to clarify that this is 100% about strangers talking to strangers. Trolling your friends is another thing entirely. It’s fun and what many friendships are built upon. The reason being, a friend knows you. They know your boundaries. They know you know what they mean. There’s history, inside jokes and perspective. All that doesn’t exist when Johnny nobody fires off an angry response to a tweet his favorite bass player made a month ago about how kale is better than Swiss chard.

I’d like to live on an internet where the ideal of “If you wouldn’t say it to my face, then don’t write it to me on the internet” is the norm. Surely some will read that and be like “Fuck that, I’d say it to your face!” but I don’t even mean that in an aggressive “Come at me, bro!” kinda way. I mean, when you’re speaking to someone face to face and you say something that is unwarranted, pointlessly mean or spiteful and you actually are forced to see them react. You see their brow furl and the air in the room noticeably change to uncomfortable. You can read their emotions. You get that weird feeling of immediate regret cause you spoke harsher than you meant to. Suddenly, you feel empathy. Imagine that? Real human decency. You might even say “My bad, I didn’t mean it like that…” cause you have first hand witnessed how your uselessly negative words effected another person.

OR, Fuck it. Keep just rifling off every shitty thought you have at anyone who will listen. Push buttons on strangers for your own weird enjoyment. Amplify your loneliness in real time for the world to see. Whatever makes you “happy”. But, rest assured, NO ONE who does that kinda thing on a regular basis is truly happy. I don’t know about you but I’ve never been feeling good about myself and decided “I’m gonna pick a fight with a complete stranger over nothing”. Miserable people tend to want to make others feel just as shitty as they do. It’s unfortunate but it’s reality. So, to all you miserable shitheads who opt to pass your time like this, I just wanna say “Sup? everything okay?”. Unfortunately, I think we both know the answer to that.
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How to be an asshole online

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With all the social networks available to us nowadays, people seemingly have everything at their fingertips. Information and communication are at an all time high. Especially within circles of friends or with celebrities. “Keeping tabs” on people is the norm and it would seem Orwell was only partially correct. It’s not so much “Big Brother” watching as much as your actual brother…and his friends…and maybe your aunt…and that girl you went to high school with for 1 year but dropped out cause she got pregnant. What I’m saying is that all eyes are online. When this freedom is added to a sense of anonymity the results can vary from harmless to devastation. But, Mostly, the result in someone being an asshole for no reason.
As someone who is kind of an asshole online, I understand. While I’d argue that my brand of asshole is mostly in jest and hyperbole, I’d be an actual asshole to not at least see how I could be seen that way. The internet is the best time waster known to man and, eventually, when you’re bored enough, you’re gonna start shit with people no reason. Anyone who’s ever lived with another person can attest to this. One day, you’re just feeling like picking a fight, so you do. It’s in our nature. But doing it online? It’s art. I will admit that prior to having Twitter and Facebook page, I was only somewhat aware of these practices. I knew what “trolling” was but outside of message boards, I hadn’t seen it close up in that manner. After all, friends playfully troll each other online but real , harsh , saying things to strangers only to get a reaction type trolling? I thought that was mostly for comment sections on youtube and blog posts.

So, I’ve made a list of things you can do if you want to achieve grandmaster asshole status online. I’d also like to add, don’t do these things. If you read this list and think “Huh, I do most of these!” guess what? You’re an asshole. Not a partial fun time asshole, but an actual, true in the flesh jerk off. Good job, asshole!
Here are 10 ways to be an asshole online:

1)Defend things you don’t even care about just for the sake of the argument (be a contrarian)

It’s fucked up but it would appear “caring” about things has become a weakness. I blame these types of people.
The amount of things I’ve gotten into arguments with people online is astounding (and shameful on my part). But more astounding? The topics in which these arguments were based. Things like Razor scooters , men wearing sandals , Justin Beiber (These were adults arguing with me), and ATM fees. I’ve learned that there is no topic on earth that SOMEONE won’t find a way to turn into an argument. Everyone has issues with things and , 9 out of 10 times, they’re petty. So, as much as I might be to blame for making jokes about stuff, you can’t possibly be THAT mad about any topics as banal as these. Because of this, I feel as though people are just online waiting to disagree with other people. Is it to waste time or is it to feel some almost human contact? I don’t know. But I do now contrarians are self obsessed and petty people willing to angrily argue over what yogurt is the best if it means someone else will listen to them.

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2)One-upmanship
This is where someone makes a joke and then other people add on to that joke. Maybe 5% of the time you’ll get a funny retort. This is because, in general, most people aren’t that funny. So, the result is a thread of people trying way to hard to get in on the action. While this really isn’t that big a deal at all, there are certain people who seem to exist to be that “I can do it better!” guy. And there is a difference between that guy and an actual funny person who comments on things. While this is one of the least offensive online asshole traits, it will certainly wear you down over time. Sometimes, silence is golden.

3)Answer rhetorical questions
Without question, people will always answer rhetorical questions. This is mostly on twitter and facebook. Say you say something like “Is it so hard to pick up after your dog?” and people respond like “Sometimes it is…I had a dog that Blah blah blah” SHUT THE FUCK UP! No one REALLY asked you. Just cause you see a question mark at the end of the sentence doesn’t mean it’s your cue to chime in. Even if you’re answering that question “No! It’s not hard!”. It’s not necessary. Give your fingers a rest sometimes and just let a statement be a statement, no matter how mundane it may be.

4)NEVER get jokes and argue about them
This is one I’m way too familiar with as my entire twitter existence is jokes and promotion. When it’s time for a joke said with any irony or sarcasm, I prepare for the inevitable backlash of people who didn’t get it. No matter how obvious it is that what I just wrote was in jest. You know what kills a joke? Having to tell the person it’s a joke.

5)Keep extensive tabs on people

This is more focused towards people you actually know. Weirdo insecure people who use things like Facebook and Instagram as a means to keep tabs on their friends. For instance, you go out casually with a friend and a picture gets taken. The next day someone is like “You were at so and so last night? Thanks for calling, asshole…”. Or worse yet, people checking in to see who your hanging out with to make sure you’re not hanging with people they like/dislike. This is the real big brother at work. No one is more likely to lord over friends than an insecure person who happens to miss the party one night.

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6)Comment of something you haven’t read based on the title, overlooking the content completely

I promote this blog on my facebook and twitter and , often, will do rants about things (like the one you are currently reading). While I don’t expect people to actually sit down and read all the bullshit I write (I know I’d skim this shit like a motherfucker if I didn’t write it) I do think that, if you’re gonna comment on something, you should probably be informed on what you’re arguing about. As opposed to reading the title of the piece and just going off that. Therefor, if I write a column called “Dark Chocolate: What shit tastes like” but the first sentence reads “I’m fully aware that many of you will probably not agree with this, and that’s okay” yet you respond by furiously disagreeing with me, you’re being an asshole. Not cause you disagree with me but cause you’re a reactionary dipshit.

7)Get offended by everything
The internet: Where false outrage reigns supreme.
This goes hand in hand with the contrarians. People seem to have a distinct need to be offended. It can be over anything but typically if has to do with someone misunderstanding context. This may be a bad example but take what happened with basketball player Roy Hibbert recently. He dropped a “No homo” during a press conference.

Of course, people lost their shit and he was fined. I get it. But the thing is, he was obviously kidding. It wasn’t said with vitriol towards gay people. It was a joke. You can even see in his face afterwards that he kinda regretted it but also meant no real harm by it. Should he have said it at a press conference? Probably not. In fact, if he had just said “Pause” instead, no one woulda said anything. But, still, the context in which he used that “no homo” joke was not a hateful one. Plenty of people do use that in a hateful “scared/disgusted of being gay” kinda way. But Hibbert? It was harmless. I’ve said this before in this blog but I feel like people like act offended way more than they actually are. Cause, if they actually did get as offended by the things they claim offend them, I honestly don’t know how they got through life without jumping off a bridge every time someone says anything remotely off color.

8)Talk for the sake of hearing your own voice (but with typed words)

People have a need to be heard. Chuck D was famous for saying “I don’t rhyme for the sake of riddle’n”. Internet comment sections are the opposite of that statement. Everyone wants a platform to be heard but , the issue with that is, most people don’t care to listen. This can be frustrating when you actually have something to say but, the majority of the time, people don’t. Yet, somehow, this leads to multi-page long responses to innocuous questions that didn’t ask a question in the first place. One thing is for sure, I’d hate to live with this kind of online asshole cause , undoubtedly, they would be the type to corner you and talk about shit like “the rigors of clam digging” for 45 minutes while you just nod and wait for them to stop speaking.

9)Make snarky jokes that don’t translate when read by a person who can’t tell the tone of them
I’m certainly guilty of this one. I think pulling off jokes online comes down to tone. Choose your words wisely. There is a thin line between a chuckle and coming off like an unbelievable asshole. The really are no definitive ways to fix this problem other than people understanding humor and human interaction better. Good luck with all that shit, internet.

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10)Let the boredom win

When you boil it all down, Boredom is the culprit. We do things out of boredom. Add some insecurity and entitlement and, Voila! you have the internet! If you’re bored and perusing the web, just know that everyone doesn’t have to be aware of your presence. Life will go on perfectly fine if you don’t comment on something. Nothing wrong with being supportive or seeking out cool new things to capture your interest. That’s the positive side of being online in 2013. The world is at your fingertips. Literally. All I ask is that you don’t take too much advantage of that bounty. Back in the days, I had to go to the library just to plagiarize the encyclopedia for high school research papers. Nowadays, you could spend months in a wormhole just googling the word “Plagiarize”. Accept these gifts but show a little restraint. That, or get famous enough where you opinions actually hold a little weight. Then people might actually care enough to listen. In fact, I gotta work on that part myself.