Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Tweeting & Trolling

There’s plenty of outrage floating about on Twitter about invasion of privacy, censorship, regulations, bullying, general internet abuse & trolling. There’s much more too which is opinion on matters which interest us all, sometimes we agree or do not. In my book that is fine, it is natural human interaction carried on through a conduit we humans developed. Namely the internet.  People disagree with me often and I don’t mind provided they are talking to me on the basis of knowledge or experience. It is why I am here after all, to debate, learn and interact from the comfort of my home. Sure it can get a bit fiery at times and I am as sure as a dog who knows he has fleas that most of the time it is my fault. My diplomacy is not always a strong point.

However where things really get a bit heated or emotional is when issues relating to our precious internet and Twitter itself are under the microscope. We seem to lose common sense and always want to settle on the most dramatic or outraged and self righteous speech we can muster from what are often rather limited vocabularies.  In the same way as an illiterate yob can pronounce perfectly the term ‘paedophile’ and throw it at anyone he chooses yet at the same time is barely able to neither write his own name nor have any idea what the full definition is. So does the Twitterati discuss the troll and declaim him or her without ever being able to clearly define what one is.  I doubt anyone really can.

However over the past few months of vociferously reading the timelines of those who are both accused of it and those who do the accusing, ranging from the famous (ish) to the really nobody at alls. I’ve made my general conclusions. They are  not scientific or backed up by anything than my own interest and curiosity in matters contentious. Though I’d hope they are reasonable and logical.

Those variously described as Trolls (excluding one off tirades) are those who tweet foul, scary and deeply disturbing messages to people in the public eye particularly when those at the receiving end are women. People of limited intelligence/social skills who tweet profundities or racist comments. There are those who deliberately use their accounts to defame others who are famous, quasi celeb or just someone whose profile they don’t like.  Those are the main ones. Then there are those who trawl # tags looking for a fight, or those who have a genuine and specific interest in a # tag and disagree with another’s opinion on there and those who just enjoy a wind up.  They all get called Trolls and the indignant folk on Twitter react with equal vigour when they or the subject of their trolling comes up. They are all in their own way annoying at times, sometimes creepy and potentially dangerous, but not all are the same. It is pointless for me to segregate this group into degrees of whom we should be less excitable about, because as anyone knows, on Twitter the populist opinion is the one that is right, even when it discovered not to be at a later date.  I've not the energy to debate or argue for or against, to mitigate or be pragmatic. Twitter will react anyway as it chooses.

One type I will ‘out’ though is to my mind the worst.It is those who will RT anything contentious about another that comes into their timeline without any thought, or checking as to whether there is any rhyme or reason behind it.  Those are the people who during my examination of alleged trolls, the images of conversations and the examination of the account where the assertions started are the one's who actually cause the most damage. Therefore I ask myself a few simple questions and look for those to be answered and especially if the tweet I am reading is via an RT. I'm certainly not going to RT something negative about another person without being sure. That isn't being protective about myself, but resisting the propagation of nonsense and upset against another human being. For some reason many don’t seem to care though so merrily and thoughtlessly spread the gossip, then next day fill my timeline and the# tags with what I can only call hollow and hypocritical tweeting about ‘their rights or who should be censored’.

Therefore I ask. Is the originating tweeter traceable? Do they seem to have a real persona and talk to real people about other subjects? A look at their follows V followers says much, numbers of these to an extent too. Follow 3,000 have 2500 following back?? That hardly suggests engagement with anyone and if so why? Or follow 150 & have fourteen followers. The latter may just be a person new to twitter, but how come they are so adept at finding trouble or keen to cause it and once again , I ask why?  I wonder if they be seen anywhere else on the internet beyond Twitter?  Do they seem sane or reasonably intelligent, are they consistent? It takes a nano sec to look and consider this.  Then I look at the accused and ask the same questions, this also takes a nano second. Then if  that simple expedient provides satisfactory answers, then I may RT.

As for troll accusations that come my way sometimes. I am not one in the least. I am wholly traceable and not hiding behind either an ambiguous profile or avatar. There is not one thing that I say to anyone that I would not be fully prepared to say to their face in private, public or even in a court if it got really out of hand or to clearly and genuinely retract if shown to be in the wrong.  Indelicate I may be, but the ‘I’ is very real not so with most of the accusers of trolls.

NB. I have follows & followers in regular and valued dialogue who are pseudonyms rather than fakes. Anonymity is only an issue when accusing or defaming another. If you have to do that so you can. That opinion is mostly  wasted on me.

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