It’s taken a while for this prophecy to come true, a while for this mode of communication to replace and degrade political conversation, to drive out any ambiguity. Or departure from the binary. But it slowly is turning us into a nation of hate-filled trolls.
Surprisingly, [Jaron] Lanier tells me it first came to him when he recognized his own inner troll—for instance, when he’d find himself shamefully taking pleasure when someone he knew got attacked online. “I definitely noticed it happening to me,” he recalled. “We’re not as different from one another as we’d like to imagine. So when we look at this pathetic guy in Texas who was just outed as ‘Violentacrez’…I don’t know if you followed it?”
“I did.” “Violentacrez” was the screen name of a notorious troll on the popular site Reddit. He was known for posting “images of scantily clad underage girls…[and] an unending fountain of racism, porn, gore” and more, according to the Gawker.com reporter who exposed his real name, shaming him and evoking consternation among some Reddit users who felt that this use of anonymity was inseparable from freedom of speech somehow.
“So it turns out Violencacrez is this guy with a disabled wife who’s middle-aged and he’s kind of a Walter Mitty—someone who wants to be significant, wants some bit of Nietzschean spark to his life.”
Only Lanier would attribute Nietzschean longing to Violentacrez. “And he’s not that different from any of us. The difference is that he’s scared and possibly hurt a lot of people.” - Continue reading at Smithsonian.com.
Photo by: Robert Holmgren
In the case of digital barbarism, call me an optimist, but I think that the vastness of information on the web and it’s “congealment” and the collage that it creates to do the “magical” things that are described (translation, wolfram-alphaesque operations) is only going to be for our betterment.
I’ve heard the argument that the vastness of information available on the web is only making us stupider and more lazy but I dispute that.
Never has there been a time in history when information is so widely accessible.
There are corners of the web that cater to every interest or hobby imaginable and, whereas before, the most someone would be able to learn (surface details of obscure ideas) brought to them by the encyclopedia brittanica, they can now find vast communities of like minded people on the web that have scrutinized even the smallest detail of what those obscure ideas offer.
If anything the web is enriching in us a culture so rich, so colorful that even history’s most brilliant and educated minds wouldn’t be able to concede.
As for trolls, I can only hope that this vastness of information would create an understanding of all cultures and ways of life so that the very idea of being “different” dissipates into thin nothing.
The people who go out of their way to be cruel and to make a name for themselves through that cruelty are desperately and fervently, maybe even militantly, holding on to their outdated notion that differences are wrong and that they, in some small, extremely obscure way, are better than everyone else.
They are sick, small minded and intolerant and intolerance is becoming vastly outdated.