Monday, July 28, 2014

Take my word for it: Trolls don’t just live under bridges anymore

From page A4 | June 18, 2014 |

Once upon a time, trolls lived under bridges. That time has passed.

With the invention of the Internet — all thanks to Al Gore, of course — came a new venue for jerks to, well, be jerks. You know the overly drunk guy in a bar with the loud mouth doing things just to rile people up? Well now he’s sober, living in his mom’s basement, and picking fights anonymously from his computer. That, folks, is today’s troll.

For those not familiar with the term, Wikipedia defines an Internet troll as “a person who sows discord on the Internet by starting arguments or upsetting people, by posting inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community (such as a forum, chat room, or blog) with the deliberate intent of provoking readers into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion.” Put simply, it’s the guys (or girls) you see saying the stupidest stuff online just to get a rise out of us.

These folks are not class acts. They are the lowest common denominator, and they aim to bring the rest of us down to their level.

I try not to let them affect me, but trolls are everywhere nowadays. Once delegated to bridgework and employed simply as toll collectors, trolls now use their free time, and they have a lot of it, to make themselves feel better by tearing others down. They are commenters on various Websites, from legitimate news sites to Facebook and more — do not read comments on YouTube videos if you want to enjoy the rest of your day. They cripple the public perception of our society on Twitter, giving Americans a reputation of national stupidity.

Never was this more apparent than in last week’s fiasco over 4chan trolls’ Tweeting of a controversial hashtag.

Trolls pretending to be feminists created a Twitter hashtag “#EndFathersDay.” This sparked a huge reaction nationally by men attacking feminism in return, offended their right to Father’s Day was being questioned. Tweets went out by men such as “The #EndFathersDay trend is everything wrong with feminism. Just let the crazies call themselves feminists. We need a less trained word..” Even women jumped on board, Tweeting things like, “#SingleMothersDay #endfathersday because who really needs a father? Boys don’t need a rape instructor.”

The hoax caught the attention of Fox News, before it was recognized as a hoax. On Fox News’ “Fox & Friends,” antifeminist author and “Princeton Mom” Susan Patton stated, “They’re not just interested in ending Father’s Day, they’re interested in ending men. …That’s really what they want.”

The trolls won bigtime on this one, and two women Tweeting who realized this couldn’t have said it better. Katherine Timpf stated, “Whether or not #EndFathersDay started as a hoax is irrelevant. Some people participating ARE totally serious and that’s terrifying.” Twitter user Repubs stated, “Even though #EndFathersDay started as a joke, it says a whoooooole lot about modern feminism that people believed feminists started it. #awk”

Trolling, essentially, is another form of online bullying. While cyber bullying has become a major issue nationwide with teens in school, trolling is still considered an online joke we should all just get over. But it’s becoming increasingly harder to do as our society continues to hate and prejudice publicly.

On the surface, trolls are easy to avoid. Remember that annoying kid being loud for attention? The best way to get rid of him was to ignore him, right? The same works for trolls. If no one responds to them, they eventually go away. But the solution isn’t as simple as it seems.

It’s one thing to ignore a child. It’s another to ignore a grown man or woman you know knows better. Whether you’re defending someone else’s honor by responding to a troll or your own, at some point everyone feels the need to tell him or her to just shut up. It’s our human nature. And once we do, we’ve fed the trolls and made them stronger. And the more that respond to their trolling, the stronger they get.

So how do we end trolling? Sadly, we don’t. While you can kick that drunk out of the bar and tell him he can’t come back, the Internet is a vast wasteland too hard to patrol, and if you knock out one troll, he or she will be replaced by two more. It’s a movement that’s too hard to stop, but if we play our cards right, we can stifle it. The next time you see someone saying something obviously intended to rile you up, ignore it and move on. If everyone else does the same, the troll hiding in a basement instead of under a bridge might just go back to his video games instead.

Patrick Ibarra is the managing editor of the Mountain Democrat. His column appears bi-weekly.



Patrick Ibarra



County’s chief lawyer: No Brown Act violation

By Chris Daley | From Page: A1

General Plan workshop today

By Chris Daley | From Page: A1

Two growth control initiatives get green light

By Dawn Hodson | From Page: A1

Sand Fire burns more than 4,000 acres

By Dawn Hodson | From Page: A1, 1 Comment | Gallery

Fatal accident in Camino

By Cole Mayer | From Page: A1 | Gallery

Agricultural Crop and Livestock Report released

By Ross Branch | From Page: A3

35 people displaced in Tahoe hotel fire

By Tahoe Tribune | From Page: A3 | Gallery



The balancing act: Toxic waste spreads

By Larry Weitzman | From Page: A4, 2 Comments

Bee-ing silly

By Mountain Democrat | From Page: A4, 1 Comment



Letter to Speaker of the House

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5, 1 Comment

GDPUD misinformation

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5

At the crossroads

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5, 1 Comment

Want more water?

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5, 1 Comment

Refugee crisis

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5, 1 Comment



Camp experience is ‘priceless’

By Mike Bush | From Page: A6 | Gallery

Speedway races cancelled

By Democrat Staff | From Page: A6

El Dorado doubles up on Pro Players

By Mike Bush | From Page: A6 | Gallery

Under the Scoreboard: July 26, 2014

By Democrat Staff | From Page: A6

Schedule: July 28 – Aug. 2, 2014

By Democrat Staff | From Page: A6

Roundup: July 26, 2014

By Democrat Staff | From Page: A6

Local spiker shines

By Democrat Staff | From Page: A7

Sports Scene: July 26, 2014

By Democrat Staff | From Page: A7



A beautiful day at Wakamatsu Tea and Silk Colony Farm

By Cathy Barsotti | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Foothill gourmet: Things get corny

By Donna Brown | From Page: B2

Bipolar Insights: From point A to point B

By Marcia Rose | From Page: B2

Cool time at Cowboys and Cornbread

By Democrat Staff | From Page: B2 | Gallery

As we were: Recreation district grows

By Ken Deibert | From Page: B4

Cantare names new director

By Cantare Chorale | From Page: B10

After 5 Club to meet

By Senior Day | From Page: B10




By Charlotte Sanchez-Kosa | From Page: A2Comments are off for this post

DUI Log: June 25-July 9

By Cole Mayer | From Page: A2

Crime Log: July 14-16

By Cole Mayer | From Page: A2




Real Estate




By Contributor | From Page: A8

New York Times Crossword

By Contributor | From Page: A8

TV Listings

By Contributor | From Page: A8

Speed Bump

By Contributor | From Page: A8

American Profile Crossword

By Contributor | From Page: A8


By Contributor | From Page: A8

Horoscope, Tuesday, July 29, 2014

By Contributor | From Page: A8

Horoscope, Monday, July 28, 2014

By Contributor | From Page: A8


By Contributor | From Page: A8


By Contributor | From Page: A8