New York Times, once again at the forefront of modern reporting.
Today the Internet is much more than esoteric discussion forums. It is a mass medium for defining who we are to ourselves and to others. Teenagers groom their MySpace profiles as intensely as their hair; escapists clock 50-hour weeks in virtual worlds, accumulating gold for their online avatars. Anyone seeking work or love can expect to be Googled. As our emotional investment in the Internet has grown, the stakes for trolling — for provoking strangers online — have risen. Trolling has evolved from ironic solo skit to vicious group hunt.
Some of the acts described in this NYT piece are criminal, and they should all be investigated by the FBI and prosecuted. While that no doubt difficult process goes on, people of good will can at least rise up and say unequivocally, “That’s wrong, and we will condemn it when it occurs among us, and discourage it” rather than saying “the solution to trolls is to stop taking them seriously”.
The fact is, trolls and griefers are far more deadly serious than you or I. They are so ragingly Puritanical and extreme that they insist on controlling what other people feel and do on the Internet, compelling them “not to take it seriously* by force, and refashioning the Internet into a totalitarian space in which only the boot on face has any validity. This simply has to be resisted; to say that victims of trolling need to shrug off cyber-bullying and harassment is to capitulate to their evil.
At this point I may be suffering from online fatigue. I’ve experienced so many online worlds and communities, and watched so many of them corroded by “lulz” or “goons” or “trolls” or “griefers” or “toads” or “snerts” or “k-rads” that I just don’t care. I Just Don’t Care. All I ask for is the maintainers of said communities, and what I try to provide as maintainer of my own communities, is providing enough weaponry to deal with the slavering zombie anonymous hordes.
Because when the zombies come, you can’t solve the problem by yourself. You just shoot any who get close to you and yours in the head.