“Web Trolls Winning as Web Incivility Increases”: NYT Article on Trolls That I Am Also In

August 14, 2014 § 3 Comments



Earlier today I talked to the New York Times’ Farhad Manjoo about trolling. Unsurprisingly, I was asked a bunch of smart questions and got to talk about the underlying cultural issues that actually dwarf the troll problem, or so-called troll problem because untimely it’s a culture problem. In addition to discussing how the war on trolls isn’t actually about trolls, but rather is all the other wars (sexism, racism, classism, ablism) made manifest, we talked about the media’s role in perpetuating trollish behaviors, including the Zelda Williams case (short version: some assholes decided it would be fun to taunt Robin Williams’ grieving daughter on social media; major media outlets picked up on the story; trolling shitstorm ensues) which reminds me a bit of the “Holmies” case which I discuss here. And we talked definitions, (often unfounded) moral panic over anonymity, platform moderation, and why oh why anyone would be inclined to value a troll’s speech (and in this instance I meant troll in the widest sense, i.e. just some rando online aggressor) over their targets’ speech, and why the argument that people should just get off the internet if they don’t like being abused is myopic and deeply gross and nestles into larger issues of systemic sexism/racism/all the other -isms and SMASH THE PATRIARCHY, etc.

The article is here, today was pretty fun.


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§ 3 Responses to “Web Trolls Winning as Web Incivility Increases”: NYT Article on Trolls That I Am Also In

  • Michael E. Stamm says:

    Very well said. Of course, the first line in the TIMES article implies the whole of the problem: the notion that there is, or can be, a “war” against trolls and trolling, which suggests further that such a battle can be won. Like the War on Drugs or the War on Poverty, this denotes a tragic and fundamental misunderstanding of the issues at hand.


  • Read the article, then come here and read a whole bunch of random posts… Interesting stuff, to say the least. The article mentioned a book though? “This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things”? The article says it’s forthcoming, but I can’t seem to find a pre-order anywhere on the entirety of the googles.

    So when’s it coming out?

    • Ha, not till early spring! I wish it were tomorrow, but the manuscript is out of my hands and now it’s up to the wizards o’er at MIT Press to make the thing an actual book. It’s quite the process…thanks for the note, and for your interest!

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