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Saturday, October 4, 2014

#FuckYourself

The only real way to beat internet trolls is with large numbers of people telling them together that they are internet trolls and that we don't like them because of that.

*** 

It's not really much of a statement to say that the internet is the single most important thing we've come up with as a species.

Or maybe it is, now that I read it out loud.  But I'll stand by it.

My point is that, as has been oft pointed out, the way in which we communicate and pool information has been permanently altered by the internet, in a way that can't be compared to any other advancement we've made except maybe the printing press. But more so than the printing press, the internet has in a single human generation created entire new languages and cultures of its own that span the globe and have fundamentally altered much older existing cultures across international boundaries.

When the generations that have never known a world without it become a significant part of our voting public in this country, everything is going to change. People who grew up on meta-humor are a little different. Kids these days by a vast majority don't give a fuck what your sexual orientation or religion are. The fact that we can communicate with people our own age around the world, and see the accomplishments of our generation in real time, and then compare that with the atrocities still being committed globally daily by our parents and leaders - IN REAL TIME - takes a lot of power away from the ignorance farmers that have kept most of the world's populations under their thumb since the last paradigm shift that was the industrial revolution.

We also now have an option to solving the world's problems that didn't exist even 30 years ago.

In the 20th Century, the conventional wisdom was that anything could be fixed if you threw enough money at it. Corporations were touted as the bright pillars of our civilized future, because they allowed groups of people to wield enormous sums of money and get shit done - the kind of money that was previously only available to nations. For the better part of a century, we built cities of skyscrapers, fleets of cars, and entire galaxies of widgets, thingies, doodads and sex toys. And then, after the golden age ended and people's thirst only grew greater, capitalism began to turn on us. The money folks started focusing on getting more money, and the Game became about the money, and while our problems in many aspects started becoming more and more symptoms of how much money was being thrown around and hoarded, the solution to these problems in many peoples eyes remained (and in many cases remains to this day) throwing more money at them.

But that doesn't have to be the future. Now we can throw people at problems. Crowdsourcing has gotten more and more attention ever since people started using it to make money (See a pattern here? We're still following the money.), but crowdsourcing is a practice that has been around literally as long as the internet. In fact, crowdsourcing created the internet. In fact, in many ways, crowdsourcing IS what the internet IS.

It's a place for people to pool ideas, and while we're still trying to find a way to work money into the equation, the internet has long run on the notion that it should be a free and universally available place to pool said ideas. The point of the internet is to take the best things we're all doing and allow everyone else in the world to contribute to one another's ideas. It lets our ideas grow beyond the limits of our individual humanity and allows us to create things as a truly seamless unit of living things.

Don't you fuckers see? The internet IS the means by which we reach our next plateau of evolution. It is the physical device by which we will transcend our individual selves and become the unified Gods so many of us are sure we can be. So where are we stuck?

Trolls. They're the reason I started writing this whole thing. I ranted at you all this time about how great the internet is because of the worst part of it. While it allows us to share all our great ideas, it also allows us to share that about ourselves that is most base, vile, and putrid.

As we've moved away more and more from face to face interactions, our sense of interpersonal decency has been one of the first and most obvious casualties. 30 years ago, if you callously walked into a bar and called everyone in it a pack of wankers, you'd get the living shit beaten out of you and the world would move on with one less asshole. These days you can find every one of those people and individually contact them through Facebook, letting them know you think they are wankers, and suffer no physical consequences.

For all the good things it has made possible, and for all the potential it has, the one unforgivable sin of the internet is that it gave everyone the impression that not only was their opinion valid, but important enough to be shared. While in some sense, all our opinions have their own inherent validity, they are not all valid in every conversation and when presented in just any context. Many people don't seem to get that.

Whereas, 30 years ago, shitty people who got off on spouting half-baked criticisms of everything around them usually found themselves lonely outcasts with no friends, now they congregate on the internet. There, not only are they free to express their awful, unhelpful, usually ignorant opinions, they can cheer one another on while masturbating furiously and weeping alone in the dark.

And whereas, in the past we could complain vaguely about the mouth-breathers that were holding society back, I think I pretty effectively just outlined how these wastes of life we know as Internet Trolls are quite literally holding our entire species back from genuinely magical achievements.

Just remember, every time you read something online, be it a piece of news, or a discussion, or a joke, that by being on the internet it originated in someone's mind, and is therefor a product of our collective mind. Whatever your disagreement with it, it is there, on the internet, for the sole purpose of being made better by crowdsourcing. So if you can make it better, either by directly acting to improve it, or (sometimes this is necessary) by pointing out its flaws IN A CONSTRUCTIVE WAY (that's the key to not being a troll), you are helping the internet help us become better as a group.

If you can't do that, realize that THERE IS AN ENTIRE INTERNET WORTH OF INFORMATION ALL AROUND THE PART THAT YOU DISAGREE WITH, some of which is bound to be saying the exact opposite, and some of which you're bound to agree with. Go find one of these places, or if you're like me, and nobody is quite saying what you want to hear said, you can go make a place for yourself to talk to whoever agrees with you about whatever you want to talk about.

But there's absolutely no excuse for seeking out information you disagree with online and then posting merely the fact that you disagree with it in an attempt to derail the conversation. If you can legitimately persuade the people having the discussion of your stance and why you disagree, that's a whole other story, and, like I said, have at it, that's what the internet's there for.

But if all you have to contribute is "This sucks, and you're all a bunch of fags," then I have only one important thing to say to you, and I want you to listen to me very carefully, because I will give you the words of a man I respect more than most of the people I've physically met in my life, and I only know about him because of the internet. He gave this message to another group like you in the late 1980s, and whether or not you agree that it still applies to that group, I want you to know that if Bill Hicks was still alive, he'd very likely want to say this to you himself:

"Kill yourself.
You are fucked and you are fucking us.
There is no way to save your soul; Kill yourself.
Seriously.
Leave, go home, and do it now.
Kill yourself."

But no, really, do it.

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