Family Magazine

Cyberstalking: What Do Trolls Got to Do with This?

By Monicasmommusings @mom2natkatcj
Cyberstalking: What do trolls got to do with this?In continuing on with my Cyberstalking series I would like to talk about trolls. Not those funny looking crazy haired dolls from when we were children, but internet trolls. This word is tossed around the internet so frequently that I think it has lost its meaning. And so many people view what a troll is differently. So I'm going to attempt to define it here or at least give you my idea of a troll.  
The history of a troll!
Cyberstalking: What do trolls got to do with this?Internet trolls are not much like the mythological trolls that live under bridges or in caves.  Not at all like Edgar here, grandfather of the trolls.  Internet trolls are people who intentionally try to get people aroused and inflamed.  They started out in the days when message boards were popular.  Well before blogs and all the social media sites hit the scene.  They would use the anonymity of the internet to insight arguments between people on message boards.  They sat back and watched it all unfold and wars between people began.  And then they would move onto the next message board to do the same thing.  As message boards slowly have become more and more taboo and blogs and social media began to grow in popularity they began to start trouble in these places.  And now we see so many people crying troll over any dissenting opinion on the internet!  Do internet trolls still exist?  Of course they do!  They probably always will because as long as there are people for them to mess with there will be fun to be had by messing with them.  But is every difference of an opinion a troll?  Absolutely not!
Definition of a troll:
According to the urban dictionary the definition of a troll is as follows
 One who purposely and deliberately (that purpose usually being self-amusement) starts an argument in a manner which attacks others on a forum without in any way listening to the arguments proposed by his or her peers. He will spark of such an argument via the use of ad hominem attacks (i.e. 'you're nothing but a fanboy' is a popular phrase) with no substance or relevance to back them up as well as straw man arguments, which he uses to simply avoid addressing the essence of the issue.

So not someone who has a different opinion.  Not someone who carefully and thoughtfully presents their side of an argument.  And because of the nature of the internet someone who does this usually uses another name to do so.  Hides behind anonymous comments or a different name.
Difference of opinion does not equal troll!
I hear it all the time from bloggers.  I have all these trolls.  They keep coming to MY page just to argue with me.  But are their arguments on target with what you post about?  If so that's not a troll.  Well, if they don't agree with me they don't have to read.  I know I don't read everything I agree with.  Honestly, I don't even want everyone who reads here to agree with me.  That would be rather boring and preaching to the choir don't you think?  I want to get my opinion out to people who might not see things my way.  I want them to engage with me civilly in debate.I want them to change my mind on something or me to change their mind on something because I put forth a good effort at dissuading their point of view.
Not everyone is going to like me.  I get that.  Not everyone is going to understand me.  I get that too.  And while I have had a few debates on here recently I never once thought oh this person is just a troll.  People who completely disagree with my stance on something or how I do things and have told me as much were not trolls.
Doing a little spoof of Jeff Foxworthy's 'You might be a redneck if...' bit
You might be a troll if...
  1. Telling a laboring woman who's attempting a home birth that it's okay to go to the hospital
  2. You talk to friends about something someone said or did
  3. You write a blog stating a differing opinion from another blogger
  4. You put forth any sort of sensible argument against what someone is saying
  5. You continue to feasibly argue your side of the coin even after a bunch of people have called you a bunch of different names
  6. You warn others about the dangers of getting involved with someone who is a habitual liar
  7. You read a blog that you rarely agree with
  8. You offer up an opinion about someone being discussed and it's not all glowing
So does that sound right to you?
Someone being concerned for human life suggesting she seek help is that mean or purposefully inflaming?  Talking to your friends about something you found to be unbelievable is that any different than what most of us do on a daily basis?  Writing a blog post, debating different opinions, and continuing to argue your point, is that mean?  Warning others about things you have learned about another person what's wrong with that?  What does a blogger have to worry about if her so called troll is the one who's lying anyways?  Are we not allowed to read things we disagree with?  Are we not allowed to then offer up factual evidence of why what is stated is incorrect?  Are we not allowed to tell others in conversation why we don't like something or someone?  Are the ones pointing fingers at people labeling them trolls any better really than these so called trolls?  Isn't all this beginning to sound a lot like the internet piracy act that so many bloggers are standing up against the government censoring us?
What does all of this have to do with cyberstalking?
You know the story the boy who cried wolf?  I'm sure you do, but if not long story short a shepherd who was bored watching over his flock of sheep continued to call wolf to get the towns people running to save the sheep.  Until one day there really was a wolf and no one believed him when he cried it so no one came running and the sheep were eaten.  Well if a blogger continues to call troll then who will believe her when she really has a problem?  When someone is really following her around on the internet and making threats towards her and truly terrorizing her who will believe that?  This is why we have to be careful who we call trolls.
I have gotten to the point where I hear the word troll and I can't take a person seriously because every little thing is considered trolling behavior.  It is going to make it that much harder for the real true offenders who end up crossing the lines from just doing it to get a rise out of people to actually stalking and threatening people to get convicted if everything someone does on the internet could be considered trolling.  The funny thing about it all is the bloggers who scream troll the loudest are the ones who also have the loudest most judgmental opinions about many public figures that I have ever seen.  People need to "mind their own uterus" but then when Michelle Duggar is pregnant again she needs to be punched in the throat.  Yes people, these are actual conflicting statements from one blogger on the internet.  And that my friends sounds to me like borderline cyberstalking/bullying with an actual physical threat in there and everything!
What do you think about internet trolls?  Is the term used much to frequently?
Be sure to check out part 1 in this series Cyberstalking: One Mom's Story and part 2 in this series Cyberstalking: A Mother's Story about her son.

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