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The ubiquitous internet trolls

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Venkat Parthasarathy
Venkat Parthasarathy
Life is Cricket + Mohd.Rafi + Kishore Kumar. News and sports buff ! हिन्दी हैं हम वतन है - हिंदुस्तान हमारा ! Anand Bagh - Hyderabad

The evolution of the internet trolls began long before the advent of the social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. .

Much before the Youtube revolution and in the early days of internet, the Yahoo chatrooms gave a platform for anonymity that broke the inhibitions of strangers to discuss, disseminate and solicit sex online. The virtual world created newer opportunities of expression for the low-on-confidence introverts. Soon there was a definitive churn and the internet chatroom abuses did not remain confined to private rooms but got a larger public audience.

The birth of online news portals and the opening up of the comments section was the early indication of online trolling taking roots. Internet policing, politely referred to as moderation by admin moderators, had just started taking steps to control abusive language through blockade/removal of a set of abusive words and phrases. Only to be pushed back through usage of words, phrases and expletives in Hindi and native Indian languages. The new age internet mobs on news portal comments section came back with newer ways to beat the moderators.

Patriotism and public display of patriotic fervour found a new place on internet and the online comments became a ready to use platform to air views on pro-India and anti-Pakistan barbs, the latter is strangely still perceived as the surest way of patriotic display in this jingoistic country.

It wasn’t long before every article, every discussion or an analytical piece – on politics, sports, movies, entertainment, health or environment – got battered with comments that were less patriotic and more Paki bashing. There is quite a marked take-off from the news portal comments that we see today in the pattern of abusers, trolls on social media. They all have one unique similarity – they just vent their spleen on strangers, celebrities – who they have never met, successful artists, sportspersons and above all the insensitive-to-insult politicians.

While an innocuous article on a south Indian movie online would seem no way of attracting Paki bashing – you would be surprised to see comments that first start with a north vs south Indian divide and some racist remarks on the colour of skin and soon turning into the inevitable Paki reference and invariably unite the commentators with fancy names like Akhand Indian, Proud Himalayan, Filthy desi etc fighting out a non-existent neighbour with the choicest of expletives. Cut to the present day Twitter trolls – you would have a long forgotten Bollywood character actor making snide remark on the Government on a civic issue inviting hordes of followers of the party in power jumping over the other in throwing expletives at the now victimized soul. Then there are sympathizers of the new age self-proclaimed crusader’s political party who don’t want to be left behind in the war of words and take sides and exchange the now infamous pleasantries.

Joining the bandwagon of the trolls and giving them credence are the I-know-all-on-any-subject celebrity journalists who are only too happy getting all the attention through the public bashing of the netizens, they invite them with open arms through their skewed commentary, prejudiced tweets and comments, before crying victim.

So how does this malady end… or will it really end? The answer is a firm NO!

The growth and spread of internet is expected to bring in newer and hitherto unheard of young users to taste the freedom of unsubdued expression and studies on the psychology of the internet trolls reveal that “people who are physically distanced from each other are less likely to play nice”

A recent article in Health.com says – Cyberbullying is all too common in chat rooms, message boards, Facebook, and the Twitter-sphere, says Alan Manevitz, M.D., a clinical psychiatrist with Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. “There’s a freedom of speech without a fear of consequences,” he says. “There’s no inhibition. It’s like being drunk.”

While there are laws to curb abusive and harmful content online, the size and magnitude of the crime, if I may call that so, makes it herculean to curb, leave alone end.

The trolls have long arrived and are here to stay!

 

Venkat Parthasarathy

[email protected] / Twitter.com/venkrek

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Venkat Parthasarathy
Venkat Parthasarathy
Life is Cricket + Mohd.Rafi + Kishore Kumar. News and sports buff ! हिन्दी हैं हम वतन है - हिंदुस्तान हमारा ! Anand Bagh - Hyderabad
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