Blog Post

Internet Trolls: An Introduction and a Caution

This may be common knowledge, but I’ll say it again: Youtube commenters are some of the most cruel, vicious, inappropriate, heartless people on the Internet. Don’t believe me? Check out a few of the comments I found on the infamous “Friday” music video by Rebecca Black:

 “Y did this bitch record this stupid ass song has no meaning”

“yo who in the f--kin world would give this dumbass none talented bitch a contract to f--kin sing. yo if they make a f--kin CD for her, ima have to s--t on her moms chest.”

 “hahaha this is the worstest and annoyingest songs ever my whole entire school hates it!!!!!”

“DUMB BITCH CAN SIT IN THE TRUNK!”

“didn’t know anyone could be stupider or gayer than Justin Beiber.”

 “who ran over the cat? Ohh that was just her singing!!! lol…”

Let me remind you, Rebecca Black is only 13 years old. While you could call me the antithesis of a “Friday” fan, there are still limits to how I’d show my displeasure. After all, Rebecca Black is a real person with real emotions and words do hurt. So what allows these Youtube commenters to completely disregard Black’s humanity and spew the words of poison you see above? Simple.

Anonymity.

Liberated from the constraints of their real life identity, anyone with half a brain and Internet access can make an account and post whatever comes to mind, no matter how terrible. Why not? It’s not like they can get caught; few people have the resources or skills necessary to track down every cyber bully who leaves a disparaging comment. Instead, this obscurity often breeds something even worse than a disgruntled Youtube commenter: a troll.

For the blissfully unaware, a troll is a person who delights in the frustration and pain of others on the Internet. This usually manifests itself in cruel and/or offensive comments and posts. You can find these trolls pretty much everywhere online, from websites on celebrity gossip to various online forums. However, if you’re looking for the real trolls, for people who are trolls in the truest sense of the word, look no further than 4chan. 4chan is an image-based bulletin board where people can share images and comments. Most of the forums are innocuous enough except for “/b”, perhaps the most infamous breeding ground of trolls known to Internet history. Here, trolls are so vicious that they’ve actually banded together into a group known as Anonymous. Collectively, these trolls are an informal, decentralized organization that often enjoys doing things “for the lulz”, which is to say, because they think it’s funny. For example, some of you might recognize the name Jessie Slaughter, the tween victim of cyber bullying. Although the 11 year old had been active on the Internet for some time, things sped up once she posted this video to Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hQKro8WEZ3I

Not only did they find out her address and her phone number, they also began a prank war that consisted of calling her phone at any time of the day, ordering pizzas and sending them to her house, and even sent some Craigslist prostitutes to her address. This prompted Jessie to release another video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ejGGwq4qTmE&feature=related 

which only egged the trolls on further; they even made a meme out of them (You dun goofed!; please see my post on memes if that word is unfamiliar). The emotional and mental toll their actions were taking upon the Slaughter family was largely irrelevant. More important was putting what they saw as an obnoxious prepubescent girl with a severe lack of parental supervision in her place. 

            Yet the behavior I’ve just described only applies to what is known as “Old Anonymous”. More recently, the appropriately named “New Anonymous” has focused their efforts in more “hacktivist” like ways. So far, the New Anon has waged war against groups such as Scientologists, the Westboro Baptist Church, and Sony, along with the Koch Brothers and the people who tried to censor WikiLeaks. Typically, they bring down the websites of these groups with their adroit hacking skills. Other times, they may come up with even more inventive ways of fighting back against powerful groups, like Louis Vuitton, as you can see in the following image:

For a more real-time idea of what they can do, check out the following video of Anonymous vs. the Westboro Baptist Church:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OZJwSjor4hM

With the slogan, “We do not forgive, we do not forget.”, they are truly a force to be reckoned with.  

So now that you know a little more trolls, you may be wondering what is the take-home message of this blogpost. It’s quite simple, really: Don’t mind vicious comments from the average, everyday trolls, like the disgruntled Youtubers. The more you respond, the more they’ll feed off your anger and frustration. But whatever you do, do NOT mess with Anonymous, new, old, or otherwise. You will very likely regret it.

                   -  Bernice Ponce de Leon

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