Krisstofer, Online English teacher at Acadsoc.
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It has been a week since the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, and there are so many different voices raised on the internet and in media to make this tragedy into a national debate in the US.
The most explosive moment was at 6 p.m. ET Tuesday (Feb 20) with a post virally spreading on Facebook, which claimed that one of the survivors of Parkland school shooting, David Hogg, was actually a Crisis Actor, not a real student of the school. And to make it more convincible, there was a picture under the post, indicating that David Hogg was on a camera in 2017 in California, pretending to be a high school student there and now, he showed up on video this time in Florida.
After several far-right media and some conspiracy theorists have sent out their messages, this post was like a detonator to explode the bomb on the internet. Pro-gun, Anti-gun, Conspiracy Theorists, trollers… were all engaged in this ‘Internet Media Circus’, especially on social media.
Though several MSM news outlets such as ABC and NBC have released their latest reports against these baseless assaults and trolls, it is hard to totally wipe out the impact of rumours and to protect the survivors from secondary damage on the internet.
Trolling, spreading rumours or seemingly ‘truth’ to provoke a large-scale debate and satisfy the abnormal desire of trollers, have a long history since the internet has gone public. Internet trolling is not a new word to people nowadays, just moving your fingers in few seconds to send/post/retweet something and it is hard to trace the exact person who sent out the message. In the past, trolls and rumours may only affect certain groups of people due to geographic limitation and will quickly be forgotten. However, with the assistance of internet and social media, such process will incredibly be very easy, cover a much broader audience and cause more damage to the victim.
The border between troll and controversy can be very vague, while for some group of people a post can be a trolling but not for the others.
‘In a controversy the instant we feel anger we have already ceased striving for the truth, and have begun striving for ourselves.’
Controversy is initially a struggle to reach or at least to approach the truth (if you believe there is a truth) with proofs and evidence to support one’s opinion and reasoning. For instance, in a court debate, the judge will not take any assumption or unproven reasoning into account no matter how invulnerable and reasonable it sounds. And, the evidence provided must be real, accurate and relevant to one’s opinion and the case or it will not be taken either.
There is no way we can get rid of debates and controversies wherever and whenever due to the diversity of human beings. There are a thousand Hamlets in a thousand people’s eyes. Debates are always eye-catching and exciting for bystanders to look on. It has become a widely used strategy for many sellers to catch people’s attention, give out a topic and raise a debate.
I divide controversies into 2 categories: Natural Controversies, and Designed Controversies. As mentioned above, controversies made to sell more goods are designed ones, with a clear purpose and intention and usually, the final conclusion is not that matter as the final sales. On the contrary, natural controversies are mostly between two individuals or parties holding different opinions on the same thing. Unlike designed ones, natural controversies are hard to control and predict. No one, even the engaged parties cannot tell exactly when and where it will go and stop. The good ending can be, a compromise made to ends these controversies. Whereas the bad ending can be…endless quarrels, personal abuse, crime, etc.
Both kinds of arguing are actually neutral if they can stay under certain limitations and regulations such as moral and law. However, trolls are totally different, negative and disgusting. They always start with some seemingly reliable ‘evidence’, seemingly reliable ‘logic’ with a tremendous opinion that you never heard before to cause a huge wave of publicity. However, the initial troller will not show up again in the same place to attend the war he/she has provoked. They can vanish without any clue, or switch to another IP & ID to spread out the bait on other platforms.
Sadly speaking, the ones who are fooled and hurt by the trolls, can hardly find out exactly who caused the huge wave in this once peaceful lake. People may: A: busily fight against their ‘enemies’ under the comment of the troll or B: try to find out the offender but all they get is just a virtual account and ID without any real-world information. And in most cases, famous social media like Facebook and Twitter cannot recover the negative influence the troll has caused. Even if they banned the ID which believed to spread out trolls, another new account can be made in a few minutes by the troll. And even the troll with all comments have been totally removed online, the damage caused to innocent people cannot be re-filled and compensated.
There is no doubt we shall pay full respect to free speech and right of others to give out their opinion. However, trolls are definitely not identified as normal speech.
A speaker has to be fully responsible for what he/she has said but trolls don’t have to.
A speaker has to do research and know exactly what he/she is talking about but trolls don’t have to.
A speaker must not include any personal abuse but may criticize/praise with facts and not with individuals but trolls don’t care.
A speaker will be glad to hear and reply to different voices publicly or privately but trolls will not reply to you no matter publicly or privately.
Let’s take action, from today on, not to troll or be trolled. Make it never happens again as the horrible school shooting!
- When you see suspicious trolling comments/posts in social media, please report it to the website without hesitation.
- If you are not sure whether someone is trolling or just expressing his/her true feeling, please try to PM the person and see if you can get a response.
- If you have already engaged in a trolling and started arguing against others, please shut down your PC/cell phone and take a walk outside.
- If your friends are asking you to re-share a troll, please say ‘NO’.
- If all the methods above are not suitable for you, please remain silent and reserve your opinion on the internet. You can share your opinion with someone you know in the real world.