By: Kevin Lee
This is the Internet. Or, at least, these are a few rules the misanthropes of the world have applied to the Internet. I’m not talking about Facebook, or whatever inane social networking sites the majority of the NT students subscribe to. I’m talking about /b/ (oh no) and 4chan, which is quite possibly the largest congregation of trolls and jerks that Internet bandwidth can support. If you were to picture the Internet as a place of morality, the giant black hole in the middle would be /b/, and the closest objects to that black hole would be gaming forums and chat systems. The best thing about a black hole? It’s always sucking more stuff into it.
Before my actual article begins, it needs to be stated that not all people who play online video games and go on these websites are gigantic nitwits who do their best to make everyone else’s lives miserable. However, a good number of them do, and mostly because they’re online. 4chan isn’t the only ‘black hole’ of the Internet. It’s simply the largest.
Being online gives everyone one basic protection: anonymity. No, I don’t want to hear about how the cops, FBI, CIA, or some weird no-life hacker can track you down. To these people, you are just a random dot in Georges Seurat’s A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte. You are a negligible, insignificant dot in a sea of other insignificant dots. This is what makes hate crimes on the Internet hard to catch: the law relies on the administrators and moderators of these websites to enforce it. This is what separates Facebook and 4chan: Everyone on 4chan is anonymous; no one on Facebook is. The law will not intervene unless you pull a Julian Assange.
Now, when the only punishment is being banned from a certain website/game, do you really care about breaking social norms, rules, laws? You could make an ass out of yourself, and no one would really know it was you. You would be free to exercise your Freudian impulses. When you are anonymous in a group of strangers, free to do anything you want, you could say the most horrible things and absolutely ruin someone else’s day, and the only thing you’d have to deal with is your conscience (and who cares about that these days?) Dear sir and madam, you have now been introduced to the ‘troll’. For those who need clarification, a troll is a person whose only objective is to anger other people for the sake of angering other people simply because he can.
The ‘Rules of the Internet’ (see a few of them above), most likely written by a troll for other trolls, are in fact not rules at all, but rather simple observations of trends on the Internet. Girls really don’t exist on these sites, or publicly in online games. It would be safe to say a large majority of online ‘communities’ would assume every person they meet online, regardless of avatar gender, is male. Why? Because these communities, until very recently (maybe 5 to 10 years ago), were only male. It was often a rare occurrence that you run into a girl. (does he meaning gaming sites in particular?)
These ‘facts’ combined give birth to the rampant misogynistic trolling on the Internet. Most females who use the voice chat on Xbox Live are told to “get back in the kitchen to make sandwiches.” The term ‘raped’ is sometimes used to rub in a brutal defeat in online games. To the women who read this: Yes, it’s crude and offensive. No, you’re not the only ones who are targeted by trolls. If you are Jewish, you will be trolled. If you are Black, you will be trolled. If you are Asian, you will be trolled. If you are gay, you will be trolled. If you exist on the Internet, you will be trolled. No ifs, buts, or maybes.
In fact, trolling has become so widespread that these offensive statements have often lost meaning to the ‘inhabitants’ of the Internet. When a gamer is told he got “raped”, he doesn’t get the immediately interpret the horrid meaning of the word. He just sighs dejectedly at his defeat, and gets on with his life. Sexist jokes are frequently made in bad humour, not just online, but in real life. The vast range of black comedy that stems and is used by trolls have stopped being limited to the Internet. You may scoff in disgust, wondering when you’ve ever done something so offensive, but when was the last time you’ve laughed at a “That’s what she said!” joke?
Contrary to what Kate Monster says, the Internet is not a pleasant place. You cannot make it a pleasant place. It is a cesspool of humanity’s worst aspects. It is a black hole, and that will only keep sucking things in. My only advice to avoid being sucked in?
Don’t feed the trolls.