Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Trolling 101: Trolling in a Nutshell

“Arguing with anonymous strangers on the Internet is a sucker's game because they almost always turn out to be, or to be indistinguishable from, self-righteous sixteen-year-olds possessing infinite amounts of free time.” - Neal Stephenson

The internet was created by scientists, so the first generation of internet users were technologically savvy people interacting with one another for professional purposes. Unwittingly, they created the first social dynamic for what would become social media. This began to change, however, as the internet kicked off and more people, most less savvy than their predecessors, began to interact with one another over this new astonishing communications medium.

It would have been amazing to have been in that first wave, as that period was open to almost limitless experimentation. Anyways, as more people made their way onto this new communications medium, discussion forums and chat rooms were born. Amature techies found themselves using the new medium to argue, discuss, and debate issues related to science and other fields to improve their own professional communication skills. However, there were others that took to this medium, as well. People who practiced pseudoscience or sought to spread the 'good word' also got a hold of this medium. Unfortunately, they were not as professional as the others. They, then, allowed their emotions to get the best of them, and their normal every day behavior found its way online. They attacked people who challenged their beliefs and ignited 'Flame Wars,' where winning a discussion became a matter of who could silence their opponent first. Though many people would call this Trolling, things had not yet gotten that far.

Interestingly enough, Trolling was born out of honest attempts, made by experts in various fields, to correct misguided assumptions of the people who promote pseudoscience on the internet. True experts in the field would bait these people with questions that were meant to educate them, or at the least, make them reconsider their assumptions about the field in which they had chosen to accept inaccurate information. In its truest form, trolling was meant to generate discussion, so that fewer people would be taken by the false claims of the pseudoscience gurus who were attempting to take over the information base via the internet. It has since evolved into the reverse mode, where pseudoscience gurus, now on the inside, attempt to make real facts illegitimate by insulting the experts or backing them into corners with questions that are not meant to be answered, so much as they are meant to just numb the experts into silence. The ultimate goal is always to spread their own misinformation across the internet, making the real facts questionable.

Trolling 201:
Opinions attract Bigots.
Don't be afraid, and Don't Overreact.
You are Responsible for how you act,
You are responsible for choosing what to Reply to.

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