Oh my god, DICKWOLVES
May 30, 2011 § 3 Comments
EDIT, two years later: I no longer agree with the following. I was learning how to respond to things back then, and am embarrassed by my naive, myopic, on-the-fence apologist framings (I say more about this come-to-jesus moment here). So, yuck, sorry about that -me, September 6 2013
I just put the finishing touches — dear god I hope they are the finishing touches — on my Dickwolves MEGAPAPER, which nearly killed me. Picture related, I just uploaded it from Photo Booth. I knew it would, have been circling the issue (not Dickwolves specifically but trolling humor generally) for years and only recently felt even remotely well-equipped to deal with all the stuff I just tried to deal with. Not that I didn’t, and don’t still, have some major reservations — I realize that what I’m arguing might ruffle some feathers, and not just bullshit feathers but feathers of people whose opinions I value highly, and whose arguments I mostly agree with. So it’s nerve-wracking, because there seems to be quite a bit at stake.
Oh my god, but look how coy I am. The issue is this: although I’m reluctant to apologize for trolling behaviors, I’m even more reluctant to take a hard-line stance against trolling humor. Yes, trolling is (or can be) highly problematic — it can be racist, sexist, homophobic, all stripes of nasty. But condemning trolling, and consequently trolls (not to mention the people behind the trolls), simply doesn’t accomplish much, in part because trolling is framed by trolls as a particular kind of aggressive online play. This doesn’t mean that trolls are off the hook, but it does mean that, if we hope to say anything substantive about the trolling impulse, we need to take the trolls’ schema into account. To help do this, I put forward a theoretical framework that attempts to contend with trolling language both from the trolls’ perspective and the perspective of those targeted.
In other words, my Dickwolves paper isn’t really about Dickwolves. I mean it is, that’s what I open with, specifically Courtney Stanton’s take (an early and highly bumbling framing can be found here) — but mostly I’m concerned with the kinds of questions the Dickwolves debacle raises. As I explain in my opening section, Dickwolves provides an important segue into a number of related –and I would argue critical– discussions, including the nature of language online.
So yeah. It’s been pretty hectic round these parts. I’ll be curious to know how people respond to my argument, and will be sending the draft to as many potential readers as possible. In conclusion, gird yr loins.