Don’t be fooled by its high number. These are the most important lessons you’ll learn from the internet. Ever. Until tomorrow, when someone creates a more relevant, funnier cartoon.
1- Here There Be Trolls (AKA:If You Write it, They Will Bitch)
Welcome to the Internet! Are you new here? Let me show you around!
So. Let’s jump right in with today’s lesson. Here’s the thing, if you’re planning on using the Internet for anything other than emailing your relatives annoying chain-mail and creating a vast virtual farming empire, you are going to run into the mystical creature known as the Troll.
Unfortunately, unlike the trolls of the good ol’ days, these are not the seldom seen creatures that really only surface when you try to cross a bridge; in the Internet world, Trolls are everywhere. They come out when you least expect it and they usually travel in packs. And instead of asking you to pay a toll, their purpose is apparently to piss on everyones Cheerios and indulge in general douchetruckkery-for-the-sake-of-douchetruckkery.
Want to see a troll for yourself? Simply write about politics, breastfeeding or, inexplicably, how your cats sometimes annoy you-and watch them come out of the woodwork! They will tell you, in no uncertain terms, that you are WRONG and then explain, generally with extremely poor grammar/spelling/random numbers inserted inappropriately and/or with significant abuse of the CAPS LOCK, SO THAT YOU UNDERSTAND THEY ARE REALLY MAD and/or SERIOUS. (Or possibly “srs!”)
Your political thought, idea or party is wrong. The way you breastfeed in public/bottle feed exclusively makes you an “obscene flasher who is sexualizing our youth!!!!/A lazy poisoner who is going to have a fat asthmatic child. The fact that your pets are no longer worshiped completely now that you have kids, and maybe you’d prefer they not rub their assholes on your stuff, it makes you eeeevil, and your baby should die/abandon you in a nursing home.
It doesn’t matter what you say, there is no reasoning with a troll. ( See #3) The best bet is to just accept that they exist and ignore them. Unless you are super-bored, in which case, go write a post about (any) religion and have fun with the replies.
2-Hiding Behind a Computer Makes People Say Shit They Wouldn’t Ever Say Otherwise
There’s a corner of the internet in which there exists a category of persons who don’t quite fall into the troll category. They do what they do for deeper reasons, whereas most trolls are just bored or ignorant or righteous (or, most likely, all three). This other entity- for the purposes of this lesson, let’s call them “Ogres”-is bigger than a troll. (Maybe. I haven’t played D&D in awhile.)
An Ogre is not happy with just stirring the pot in some comment section somewhere. An Ogre actually thrives on drama, and craves attention. Usually this type of creature isn’t quite able to write thoughtful, funny, well written blog posts or articles that would draw the large crowd they desire in the usual way, or they are simply too lazy to come up with their own content. So they try to capitalize on other peoples success- in the classiest way possible of course!
By creating their own site, network or club in their mom’s basement, that is solely dedicated to bashing other people. They pick fights with the popular kids. They harass celebrities. Because the next best thing to actually being a popular, well-liked person is to be that persons nemesis. Instead of becoming well known for the good they do, they become well known for the shit they start.
The result is the same. People notice Ogres.
That’s the point, you see.
Most of them claim noble motivations. I.e. They’re just thinking of the children! OMGZ WONT SOMEONE THINK OF THE CHILDREN. (This applies in mommy-blog circles and in some celebrity bashings as well.)
They’ll come up with a cause to justify their actions, paint themselves as the misunderstood underdog who’s just trying to show everyone the wrongness of, say blogging about their kid shitting on the floor, or how elitist and racist unicorn cakes really are. They’re good Ogres. Honest.
A few are blatant about their choice to go “green”, not even pretending to have layers like an onion. ( Random Shrek pun. You’re Welcome.) They freely admit they are doing it to drive traffic to the blog/forum/their kids treehouse party.
Here’s the thing: In person, Ogres are usually totally normal people in real life.
In keeping with the Shrek comparison, think Fiona, circa the first movie. By day, shes a pretty pretty princess. At night, shes the jealous bitter asshole who’s Tweeting your home address and/or the contents of your last email out to her loyal fans, because yes, they’ve always, always ALWAYS got underlings.
And they are usually illiterate Trolls. It’s theee Circle of Life..er.. Wrong movie. Moving on.
The Ogres “Daytime Persona” or Fiona, is generally a NICE person. So the next time you see that nice lady who lets you cut ahead of her in the line at the supermarket because you have a screaming kid, a candy grabbing “Mom, mom. MOM Can I have this? This? How about THIS?” kid and the kid who is fucking antagonizing the already-screaming-kid by taking his toy and dangling it just out of his reach and you JUST WANT TO BUY YOUR FUCKING BOX OF TAMPONS AND YOUR BAG OF CHOCOLATE PRETZELS AND A GALLON OF MILK BECAUSE YOUR HUSBAND CAN’T STOP ON THE WAY HOME FROM WORK BECAUSE HE IS TIRED
…erm.. sorry, I think I had a flashback there. Er. Cough. Excuse me. Where was I?
Oh right. That nice, polite lady with those well behaved children who is letting you go ahead of her and totally not rolling her eyes at your obnoxious children-She could be an Ogre. Again, you’re welcome.
3-You Can’t Win At The Internets ( So Stop Typing)
So, what happens when you are happily perusing the internet one day, ignoring trolls and staying away from ogres, and you come across a post that is just so absolutely mind-bogglingly wrong you think you must be dreaming it?
I Know. What that guy just said.. I KNOW. He is WRONG. And RUDE. And WRONG. And, if he would just listen to you for five seconds, just read what you had to say he would understand.
No. He won’t. Ever. No matter how wonderful you think Sarah Palin* is, that troll is not going to suddenly change his mind after listening to your thoughtful, Maverick-y, intelligent reasoning on the subject. And chances are, the more you keep trying- especially if you are in a public forum- the more likely it is that someone else is going to interject with this picture at some point.
And then, twelve more people are going to come in and comment about how not cool that picture is and how making fun of people with disabilities is wrong, and using the word “retard” is even more wrong. (And I will be one of these people.) And they’re right, making fun of people with disabilities IS wrong. And they’re right. Fighting on the internet IS pointless. But you’ll be too pissed at the woman hating liberal elitist cat-rapey-baby-eater who JUST WONT LISTEN by this point to realize that at the end of the day, some things just aren’t worth your time.
This says it best.
(Click the picture to see it entirely. Via Thought Catalog)
Of course, if the original post is like, super, SUPER wrong, feel free to bend the rules a little. Because sometimes douchetrucks totally need a smackdown. Personally, if I absolutely can’t stand it and MUST say something, I’ll say it, and move on-without engaging in any of the after-effects or turning it into an entire THING. Unless I’m really, really bored. Or the person I’m arguing with is really, really stupid. Then all bets are off.
4- Some People Really ARE That Racist/Sexist/Stupid/Etcetera
Yes. Not all of the Trolls and Ogres are playing a part, and not all of the internet assholes are nice people when they are not hiding behind their Mac with their Caramel Macchiato and fabricated indignation.
The wonderful thing about the internet is that everyone gets a voice.
The horrible thing about the internet is that everyone gets a voice.
Yes. People really do think that way. Say that stuff. Believe that shit. Not just on the internet either, it carries over to real life.
Free Speech applies to everyone. Even Douchetrucks. And as fucking god-awful as some things are, if we start taking away their right to spout their bullshit freely, then we pave the way for a whole fuck-ton (It’s a metric measurement.) of problems. Honestly, I think most of us would silence pedophiles in an instant, given, say, a vote. But how many people do you think would silence, say, sites about homosexuality that are aimed at children and teens? Probably a lot, if it was put to a vote in America. What about religion? Does the religion with the most followers get to silence the rest of them?
Damn slippery slopes and their damn slippery-ness.
5-As Unlikely As It Seems Now-Some People Are Awesome
Now that you have decided to stomp on, smash and then burn your laptop before tossing it in the dumpster as you flee, FLEE from the horrible horrible internet with its trolls and RACISTS AND BEARS OH MY!
I leave you with this last lesson.
Despite all of the crap, and though there sometimes seems to be an overwhelming amount of it, not all of the people and experiences you will find here are evil and bad. In fact, most of them aren’t.
People set up amazing fundraisers and support groups and technology has brought important issues to the forefront by making them immediately, visually THERE. And impossible to ignore.
More than that though, there is this sense of community that can be found, regardless of who you are, there’s a place for you. Since I happen to be a Mother, and a Writer, I spend a lot of time lurking in those circles, but no matter what you enjoy, what you have been through, there is a place where people will understand, whether its collecting Sporks or finding an abuse survivor support group, there’s a place here where you will be wanted and loved and accepted.
(Yes. Even Trolls and Ogres have their place. See: Facebook and 4Chan)
Take BlogHer for example. This blogging conference for women is a yearly event and though it’s not something I’ll ever be
rich fortunate enough to attend, just reading the stories and hearing about the amazing friendships and inspiring panels that happen during these conferences, renews my faith that there is still good and sparkly to be found in the internet. Still a place where I belong, albeit virtually.
And GOOD always wins. Don’t you watch the movies?
Or the Unicorns?
* Ed Note. This statement does not reflect the opinions of the owner of this blog. And I would never, ever post that picture.