Friday, August 1, 2008

Oh baby it's a wild web...

In the New York Times Magazine section there is an article about trolling in Internet subculture. At first I was afraid it would be some lame ass article showcasing what trolls were to people who maybe read the news online. Maybe. Which is what it appears to be on the first page, but after that, it goes into a very interesting discussion of ethics in the cybercultural age we are entering.

What these trolls are doing is trying to give themselves power, this is why they give out peoples' private information. This is intellectual capital, the ability to control information, to use it, and to manipulate it.

Obviously these people are trying to make themselves be intimidating on the Internet, because I doubt they are that intimidating face to face. Instead, they are able to become something to be feared because this power they have is entirely constructed through discourse and rhetoric and the control of information. The control they have been denied in the "real world" (if you can even call it that, I say that the cyber world is also the real world, and as this demonstrates has real consequences), but online they have power.

But, even by their own admission, their power only stems from the consent of those they abuse. These trolls have realized something that most people haven't, power dynamics function differently online then they do in the face-to-face, and you have to adapt to be able to survive. I've been the victim of trolls, and I got upset for a bit, but then got over it; so in the end, I won. If more people would realize that, then less people would get hurt. What they're doing is wrong and juvenile, but hey, that's the way of the world. The Internet's a scary place.

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