Thursday, May 31

The Trolls Among Us

Dear son
Here is an interesting article on cyber bullying and trolling on the Internet. You will find these people everywhere. I don't have to tell you that it's not good to be a troll or a bully. You aren't one and you are too smart not to know that trolls and bullies are damaged people who rarely if ever achieve happiness.
But the question is, if you are ever on the receiving end of a bullying or troll attack what do you do? I have had quite a lot of experiences with this, specially when I was a columnist for one of the worlds largest selling newspapers.
Two ways son. The first is to make sure that you and your identity is not just tied to what you do online. Far too many people define themselves based upon their Facebook, twitter, MySpace, blog or what have you persona. Consequently when there are online attacks, there is no other place to withdraw. It's like people making an arson attack on your home. Then you don't have anywhere else to go to and as you have everything tied up at home, they attack your weakness and dependency. Which is why you need to have a very strong offline persona as well. Do charity stuff. Play games. Be with friends, do some business. Read books, physical books, Work on plants. Create a persona which isn't dependent upon your online persona. That way you don't let troll attacks impact you at all.
Second is to have confidence in yourself. These trolls attack your weaknesses. Your insecurity. What you fear sometimes is loss of other people's respect for you. What will people think of you. Don't give a shit about what others think of you son. You are a smart intelligent boy. You have done many things. You will do many more bright and good and generous things. You will make a difference to many people's lives positively. You will add value to the world. You will love other people, you will grow up to be a good man. You will love a good woman and raise good kids. What you don't need is somebody telling you bad things or more importantly you believing in what others say about you. Sod them.
So, to conclude son, if and when you get attacked by trolls, walk away and believe in yourself. Never react to them, because these psychologically damaged idiots will drag you down to their level and beat you to defeat with their far greater experience of being hateful bastards. Change the game, refuse to play their game. Laugh at them and walk away. You, my son, have far better, enjoyable, fun and important things to do.
And if everything fails, come talk to me. We will hire the best possible lawyers, investigators and hackers to obliterate their existence and lock them up. :)
"The Trolls Among Us" by Mattathias Schwartz [Send Me a Story]

The real lives of trolls.
Mattathias Schwartz | New York Times | Aug 2008

One afternoon in the spring of 2006, for reasons unknown to those who knew him, Mitchell Henderson, a seventh grader from Rochester, Minn., took a .22-caliber rifle down from a shelf in his parents’ bedroom closet and shot himself in the head. The next morning, Mitchell’s school assembled in the gym to begin mourning. His classmates created a virtual memorial on MySpace and garlanded it with remembrances. One wrote that Mitchell was “an hero to take that shot, to leave us all behind. God do we wish we could take it back… . ” Someone e-mailed a clipping of Mitchell’s newspaper obituary to, a Web site that links to the MySpace pages of the dead. From MyDeathSpace, Mitchell’s page came to the attention of an Internet message board known as /b/ and the “trolls,” as they have come to be called, who dwell there.
/b/ is the designated “random” board of, a group of message boards that draws more than 200 million page views a month. A post consists of an image and a few lines of text. Almost everyone posts as “anonymous.” In effect, this makes /b/ a panopticon in reverse — nobody can see anybody, and everybody can claim to speak from the center. The anonymous denizens of 4chan’s other boards — devoted to travel, fitness and several genres of pornography — refer to the /b/-dwellers as “/b/tards.”

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