Thursday, November 10, 2016

Trolls on the Internet 

Hello Reader,
Got creepy trolls?
That’s a creepy topic, so let me ease into it, gradual-like, and end with trolls getting what they deserve. Ha!

Everyone knows the Wired World is flat…
Yes, the World Web is flat, and as screen pages about funny cats streak across the continent on fiber optics at the speed of light, everybody, all over North America, must by jealous at all the good-looking housewife millionaires right here in Calgary. Jealous, I say. I see the ladies on my computer whenever I am looking at Ten Reasons to Look at Celebrities and Five Things You Didn’t Know About Star Wars.

Actually, you’ll see those same housewives if you live in Dallas, appearing on your computer as Dallas housewife make millions from her home, and you can too! Yes, and you can click too, and then have targeted ads following you around cyberspace. It seems there are squares left in the computer template for local advertisements. This is according to my computer professor, Tom Keenan. He recently searched the Internet for renting a car in Vancouver, and now ads are popping up offering car rentals with his exact dates for his trip. The exact dates! Companies are making money, Keenan says, by sharing with each other their data about you and me. Oh my. All the better to target you with ads, my dear.

I learned about this from a one-day Continuing Education class by Keenan, based on his book Technocreep subtitled The surrender of privacy and the capitalization of intimacy. I am recommending his book to you, although I haven’t even read it yet, because his class was real good.

Wow, technocreep. Creepy. Got trolls?

After class I drove downhill to the bohemian part of town to a coffee shop. There I could read the Globe and Mail for free. In the sports section, page S9, Saturday Nov 5, is a happy and sad story by Lori Ewing about Canada’s fastest woman marathoner, Lanni Marchant. Happy: Marchant’s a practicing criminal lawyer, over age thirty, and “she was invited to the House of Commons to speak on girls and women in sport.” Lanni Marchant made some good points about her sport being objective, no subjective judging. She meant that instead of office politics, or a focus on your race, religion or creed, winning is very clear. She said, “It didn’t matter what you looked like crossing the finish line.”

Sad: “A week later she was angrily defending her point. It seems more than a few people missed it entirely.” The trolls talked about her running uniform. “Risque” they said. Note: The Reuters photo in the Globe looks fine to me—and I’m living in the Bible belt. “They even picked her apart for a pair of Instagram photos of herself in a cocktail dress.” I can’t comment on any such dress: Here on the prairies, I’ve never been to a cocktail party in my life—but I did taste a martini once, during the winter Olympics.

I won’t quote the whole article, or all the troll stuff, but as Marchant said, “It’s pretty ugly, there are some pretty dirty things, it’s pretty vulgar, it’s pretty disgusting. And I hope that none of the men and women who are commenting on there have daughters.”

I sipped my coffee. I thought. I don’t know about you, but when I picture a troll, I see a male, overweight, poorly groomed, on a shabby old couch. I suppose such guys would be jealous of anyone who is more than a decade past high school yet still remains in good shape. In the coffee shop I got talking with a slightly older couple, grandparents from Edmonton, and like me they took Lanni Marchant’s side. I told them how a baseball player got revenge on trolls. They were impressed. I will explain:

Advice to team: Don’t read comments Such is the headline before me to a Calgary Herald sports section story from page E4, March 27, 2015, by Sam Cole. As I would, Cole eases into things gradually, starting with some amusing paragraphs about the atrocious spelling of ignorant trolls, noting: One day scholars will delve into whether, somehow, the root causes of the troll’s rage has sprung from his “inability to distinguish between there, their and they’re, your and you’re, its and it’s. That must be it.”

Cole looks at Jill Officer, on a Winnipeg Olympic-champion curling team. Her team (joking)
QUOTE …had the unmitigated gall to lose to Switzerland in the final of last week’s world championship…. the now-inevitable spate of vitriolic comments, and made her wonder why. What drives these people?

Does it make them feel better to rub salt into an open wound? Do they think she and Jones, Kaitlyn Lawes and Dawn McEwen weren’t trying? “It’s pretty common knowledge that losing sucks,” Officer wrote. “Our team knows that and so do our fans… But…I am left wondering why here are still those few people who sit behind the mask of their computers and insist on being rude, mean and downright hurtful to not only us, but anyone who lives in the public eye. UNQUOTE

A ways into his article Cole writes, “But prolonged exposure to the stupidity and crassness of the trolls is a depressing reminder that there are a lot of sadistic dimwits in the world, with too much time on their hands. It’s better not to know what the lunkheads are saying, although there is a second option…”

Cole reports that “former Major League pitching star Curt Schilling tweeted congratulations to his 17-year old daughter on being accepted into college and starting her softball career. …(His tweet drew) a series of obscene, sexually explicit tweets from various males, stating what they would do, or like to do, to his underage daughter.”

So Schilling tracked them down and “published their names and occupations in a 1,700-word essay with the subtitle: ‘There are repercussions to your actions in the real world.’ Some were students at the college. He got them suspended, or kicked out. Some were adults. He got at least one man fired.”

I’m glad. I might be a fancy writer who takes a smart one-day university class, but I’m no guilty white liberal: I can muster no sympathy for trolls. And neither did the nice grandparents next to me.

It’s a small world: The grandmother was taking a course in Edmonton from Shirley Serviss (sic) about essay writing. And she had seen me read at the (Princess) Alexandra Writers Centre about three years ago. So she wrote down my website address. That very night my blog acquired a new follower. I wonder if it was her?

Sean Crawford

~Twitter is important now, as noted in my essay Twenty-Five Blogs. (Archived October 2016) Tweets, and other social media too, although not very lengthy, have overtaken blogs.

~Here is a TV screen of the baseball guy, being phone interviewed by a man in headphones, explaining his position in depth. The blue link to his lengthy blog essay is a little ways below the screen.

~For copy editors, when leaving a “wrong word” in a story, the Latin (sic) can stand for: Said In Copy.
For my essay today, the term (sic) stands for: Spelled In Conversation.

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