Violentacrez, Trolls, and the Importance of Defining One’s Terms
October 15, 2012 § 6 Comments
Today I published an article about trolling generally and Violentacrez specifically on The Atlantic. Here’s a snippet, which follows a longish discussion of the homologous and, ultimately, symbiotic relationship between trolls and sensationalist corporate media:
I am not arguing that members of the media are trolls, at least not in the subcultural sense. I am however suggesting that trolls and sensationalist corporate media have more in common than the latter would care to admit, and that by engaging in a grotesque pantomime of these best corporate practices, trolls call attention to how the sensationalist sausage is made. This certainly doesn’t give trolls a free pass, but it does serve as a reminder that ultimately, trolls are symptomatic of much larger problems. Decrying trolls without at least considering the ways in which they are embedded within and directly replicate existing systems is therefore tantamount to taking a swing at an object’s reflection and hanging a velvet rope around the object itself.
Full article here; shitstorm, I suspect, is imminent.
Update: Several people have mentioned that I didn’t acknowledge pre-4chan trolling/trollish behaviors. I agree; I didn’t talk much about that (although I do mention Usenet briefly in this linked post), because…well because that’s not what I was talking about. When I made the statement “Within the ranks of self-identifying trolls, a class of troublemaker whose roots can be traced back to 4chan’s infamous /b/ board” I was literally talking about the brand of self-identifying trolls whose roots can be traced back to 4chan. In other words, “modern” trolling subculture. There’s lots more to say about those earlier behaviors (which I discuss in greater detail in my dissertation), but that wasn’t the focus of the Atlantic piece. Someone else, please write that article!