Tuesday, August 23, 2016

How Trolls Are Ruining the Internet

How Trolls Are Ruining the Internet

The article is completely wrong. Of course trolls ruin the internet, but the problem is the verb tense. The internet, by its anonymous nature, has always been a cesspool of hate. In fact, there is probably less in proportion now, because today's internet is also rich with content, while the internet of 20+ years ago was pretty much nothing but hate and porn, as accessed by 14.4 modems. Yeah, I've been around that long, starting when websites were basically all text, and usenet was a richer and more popular source of material than the web. Not that it mattered, because usenet was also a hornet's nest of unbridled anger.

What some people object to today is who gets to do the hating. When I first started on the web in the early 90s, it was basically only accessible to tech geeks and early adopters. Right-wing nutjobs were not generally in the target group. Today's internet is as easily accessible as a TV, and no technical savvy is necessary to write nasty comments, or even to create professional-looking websites (not like those Geocities sites back in the day.) So the techies have lost their claim to a unique bailiwick, and the hate is now about equally balanced between lefty and righty nutbags. No surprise there. Human history is a long tale of us being cruel to one another. The internet doesn't make human nature, it just reflects it. Unfortunately, it reflects more like a funhouse mirror than a realistic one, because anonymity allows the darker angels of our nature to emerge from the place where we hide them in normal social interaction.

So, old-time techies who miss the old internet when you had a monopoly on hate, please note that as ye sow, so shall ye reap.

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