You’ve probably seen these or read about them. I can attest that the comments/tweets/social commentary that comes to women can be incredibly hateful, hurtful, and stupid.

Why do people do this? What do they hope to accomplish? Surely they understand that if a woman (the targets are so frequently women writers) have reached a level in their profession where their work is available to public criticism, they are most likely pretty good at what they do, know how to handle criticism, or (speaking for myself) are skilled at flinging it back, in spades — which never works but can be fun as hell. Get over you, trolls. No one listens and no one cares.


3 responses to “#MoreThanMean

  1. They do it because we let them. Some sites and services even encourage them. Twitter’s profitability, (a long time coming), depends on increasing the number of users and existing user participation. Trolls enhance Twitter’s stats, boosting its revenue stream. (Is there a correlation between final entry into the realm of profitability and the emergence of Trump?)

    Reddit, even after implementing some moderate limits, continues to be a cesspool of obscenity under the guise of “free speech.” Reddit exploits that kind of participation to enhance its profitability, (and its charitable contributions…10% of its profits).

    Some major websites employ writers whose primary function is to troll for trolls: create clickbait that attracts provocative commenting that inevitably results in disgusting, obscene, and, too often, violent behavior that encourages even more user participation that, lacking any active moderation, will increase visitor stats and the inherent enhanced revenue associated with those stats.

    Some websites exist solely for the purpose of creating clickbait opportunity for trolls.

    There’s no such thing as free speech. Internet rolls are the price we pay for an obsession with absolute tolerance.

    • But we don’t have absolute tolerance, not really. I mean, if there are threats made online, there are laws protecting the person (people) who is (are) threatened. I’m not suggesting we arrest all trolls, but wouldn’t a few well-timed arrests deter at least some of this?

      • That’s true. Our right to free expression is not completely absolute. What limitations Americans do have in place, however, have yet to to be fully extended into the digital age.

        Also, such existing limitations have proven to be only marginally effective, in any sphere of our public communication, in reinforcing the implicit assurance of our (alleged) free and democratic society that the right to individual dignity, and group identity, (which we formally recognized as a public good), is equitable and protected from the toxic social effects of hate speech, i.e. “visible expressions of hatred, exclusion and contempt.”

        [I]t is not so odd within the perspective of current First Amendment rhetoric, which is militantly libertarian, protective of the individual’s right of self-assertion no matter what is being asserted, and indifferent (relatively) to the effects speech freely uttered might have on the fabric of society.
        Stanley Fish

        We? Are out of control. We need more collective, and formal, intervention into the niche hate speech has carved into our society. We need substantive, structural support for people like the women featured in the video to fight back, to protect their dignity and their rights guaranteed under the law. I’m not suggesting we arrest all trolls either. However, we need to enhance our formal demands for accountability from people who cross that line into hate speech. We cannot allow formal tolerance to be “effective manifestations serving the cause of oppression.” (Marcuse)

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