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Internet: Democratizing Utopia or Cesspool for Trolls? –part 4

PART 4 IN A SERIES: While the original ideal of the internet was a space for unregulated democracy-encouraging dialogue, it has devolved to a place where trolls get thrills by abusing people, while hiding behind screen names. When MBU Timeline’s staff writers read the Time magazine article Tyranny of the Mob by Joel Stein, they decided to blog about their thoughts and feelings regarding internet trolls.

Cyber-bullyGraphic by Matt Williams

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Black is Back and the Trolls Stopped Trolling

By JOSH EATON

Until recent years, jungle gyms and kickball fields were the hunting grounds for oversized elementary school bullies.

Today, it takes a lot less muscle to throw a punch as a few keystrokes on the World Wide Web can inflict significant damage.

Internet trolls run wild through the timelines and newsfeeds of helpless victims, dropping explicits and hurling insults without thinking of the repercussion that follows.

It only takes a spark to start a fire. One abusive comment on a status or post is blood in the water for the lurking internet sharks.

An insult can quickly multiply into a hundred, turning homemade videos and harmless posts viral in a matter of hours.

In March of 2011, Rebecca Black watched the abusive comments roll in on her semi-professionally made music video, “Friday,” as the views ran from a few thousand to millions overnight.

Black began receiving death threats along with a novel of harassing and degrading comments about her physique and talents. The online bullying was so fierce she even dropped out of middle school in spring 2011.

The video cost Black and her family around $2,000 to produce, and her profits look to have been around $40,000 as a result of the traffic it received.

Just two weeks ago, Black released a brand new single, “The Great Divide.”

Appropriately titled, the song seems to showcase the drastic change from the middle schooler she once was, to the woman she’s become.

Despite the evolution in talent Black has gone through, the opening long stares into the camera with an abnormal backdrop in her new music video, released Sept. 3, seems to be enough ammo for the trolls.

Given Black’s history, a question comes to mind: Is she releasing the new music video solely for the revenue she saw “Friday” bring in, or to end the five-year battle with the trolls, proving to them and herself that she is a talented artist capable of making music worth listening to, for the right reasons?

Only time will tell.

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The Power of Jealousy

By VLADYMI JOSEPH

Jealousy could be at the very core of internet trolling.

People tend to troll other people on social media when they feel a sense of jealousy toward the other individual.

If someone posts a selfie on Instagram and it gets 20,000 likes, other people who may not get as many likes on their pictures will attack that individual. Calling someone names is one thing but sending death threats is over the top.  

No one should ever fear for their life over someone wanting to be foolish and cruel.

“Ghostbusters” star Leslie Jones was also a victim of trolling.  

“They started sending me threats that they were going to cut off my head and stuff they do to N words. It’s not done to express an opinion, it’s done to scare you,” said Jones.

Even though Jones is a celebrity in the public’s eye, she should not fear for her life just because other people are jealous of what she has accomplished in her life.

I do not appreciate the individuals who choose to troll others because you wouldn’t want someone doing the same to you. Treat others how you want to be treated.

Trolling is all about people wanting to be in your position because you may have accomplished fame and they want the same as well, which leads to them being jealous and hating you.

As long as ignorance is around trolling will never die.

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Do Not get too Involved with Social Media

By EDUARDO MAIA

Everyone knows how the freedom of expression in the virtual world can be harmful nowadays. Social media has been reaching a level in which details of our lives can be showed clearly around the world.

The internet, and technology in general, have been evolving since the 1990s, providing everyone freedom of speech through social media.

People are making money through social media, saving lives, changing lives, which is a phenomenon indeed. But, as with all brilliant things, there are positive and negative factors.

Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc. are social media that have brought people closer to each other since the mid-2000s, allowing us to share almost any information about our personalities, where we live, people from our families, places we have visited. This reality can be helpful and adorable but at the same time dangerous.

What would be the best way for famous people to face the trollers and all those unknown people who take advantage of people’s information, like hackers?

There is no punishment for those unknown trollers who comment on their lives. Being a famous icon, imagine how many people should be punished if we decide to report all threats and bad comments?

In my opinion, famous people should know they will be loved but, at the same time, hated. That’s the reality.

Nowadays the internet technologies unfortunately allow strangers to have an active voice in other people’s lives.

People say whatever they want, women suffer with misogyny, overweight people suffer with bullying, politics suffer with false allegations. Even us, we can suffer bias coming from a friend who has been upset with you for some random reason.

The solution should be inside them. Once you get to know you are considered a famous icon, that you are a part of the media, who can change people’s opinions and minds? You just have to get used to it. It’s the price of fame.

The key is to not provide too much information in social media, trying to protect their families and loved ones as much as they can, not displaying the whole life for whoever wants to know. Caution is needed.

Every single person around the world, not just the famous ones, must be aware of trollers and hackers. Sharing information through a computer screen has been revolutionary, however, do not let this affect your real life.

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Don’t Feed the Haters: Hate Speech Online

By SIERRA THOMPSON

The internet can often seem like a gigantic cluster of negativity that can too often be blown out of proportion.

In a perfect world, people would be able to express themselves, create anything they want online and receive endless amounts of support from others.

However, the sad truth is that the expression of ideas can come with a price of much more than just taking the time to press post.

In the TIME Magazine article, “Tyranny of the Mob,” by columnist Joel Stein, the realities of online trolling are put into perspective.

Stein explains how easy it can be for individuals to go online, hide behind a screen and say whatever comes to mind. Even if what they say can hurt or demoralize another person.

In fact, the lives of anyone with an online personality can be affected by the harsh words of another.

Actor and “Saturday Night Live” star Leslie Jones was personally affected by the hateful words of twitter user Milo Yiannopoulos.

“In July, trolls who had long been furious that the 2016 reboot of “Ghostbusters” starred four women instead of men harassed the film’s black co-star Leslie Jones so badly on Twitter with racist and sexist threats.”

These threats almost caused Jones to quit the service.

But is it OK for people to be subjected to this kind of hate speech?

While my initial reaction is to say no, having so much freedom is just one of the many reasons the web is so interesting and complex.

Everybody has the right to express their opinions, but where should we draw the line for hurtful words and comments?

The protection of free speech creates such a large gray area for online users that it could be a long time before any laws for online speech are passed.

Dealing with hate is going to happen almost anywhere you go. Encountering negativity online just comes with the act of communicating.

The best thing to do is to ignore the negativity and move onto something more interesting or enlightening.

In time, online trolling will start to back down. Stripping these people of your own attention is the closest thing you have to a modern day shield.

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Hiding in the Realm of a Coward

By CHAD OTEC

From our gaming consoles and our cell phones, to our laptops and back, technology and the internet have an immense impact on virtually every part of our lives.

The internet has been around for over 20 years, and is now visited by more than three billion people every day.

Just like there are bullies and rotten people in face-to-face interaction, there are bullies of the internet.

Trolls were once described to many of us as the monster under the bridge that would not let the prince or princess pass in the fairytale when we were younger.

But now there is a new wave of cyber trolls of the internet and they are as mean and rotten as ever.

Just as those vintage trolls hid beneath the shadows of the bridge, these new internet trolls hide behind a computer or phone screen.

Sometimes internet trolling is just for a good laugh, after all, who doesn’t enjoy an innocent meme?

But there comes a point where a line is crossed and that line is being crossed way too often on the internet.

Internet trolling has quickly escaped a light-hearted nature and is now the home of racial and sexual harassment along with threats to rape or kill the victim and loved ones.

The internet, which should be used to bring us together as a people, now seems to be a place of hatred where we tear each other down.

The problem of internet trolling is that it is difficult to contain, as well as difficult to punish those who abuse the power of the keyboard.

We do not truly know the troller behind the keyboard, and that is part of the problem.

Jessica Moreno, the wife of a former Reddit employee who pushed for getting rid of the trolling of overweight people, known as “fatpeoplehate” on Reddit, understands that internet trollers do not always fit the stereotype.

“The idea of a basement dweller drinking Mountain Dew and eating Doritos isn’t accurate,” Moreno said. “They would be a doctor, a lawyer, an inspirational speaker, a kindergarten teacher. They would send lovely gifts and be a normal person.”

Moreno is right, these internet trolls could be our friends, our relatives, even our mentors.

It is men and women, people of all sizes and shapes, expressing their opinion and often taking their thoughts too far.

If people do not have the courage to stand up in public and in front of an audience to say their hurtful words, then they should keep them to themselves.

The repercussions of these hurtful internet trolls can be detrimental to the victim regardless of their social standard.

Megan Koester, a writer for Vice.com said it best when speaking on the threats of internet trolls.

“The internet is the realm of the coward. These are people that are all sound and no fury.”

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