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a man slumped on his desk, from 'The Sleep of Reason Produces
      Monsters'

Oblomovka

Currently:

the trolls, they are us

People think trolls are other people: He/she is a troll, you are a feisty opponent, while I merely have strong opinions. And it’s true that some people do turn into trolls full-time, presumably while growing hair out of their ears and developing a head-under-shoulders look (or is that gonks?)

But really, we’re all just one “submit” button away from being a troll. I’m writing this meta-narrative because I was just about to write a long aggressive dismissal of a column someone had written about the “death of e-mail”. What stopped me was the following:

So I just hit <delete> on my entire flame. I tell you this, because I think more people do that than you’d think. I want you to know that when you next do it, and feel that weird emptyness from having denied yourself the troll-id pleasure of going nuclear on somebody’s arse-delivered opinions, the ghosts of a billion other flames are cheering you and welcoming your flame to the blissfully quiet troll afterlife. Some things are better left unsaid.

Of course, that never stops about three hundred other people with exactly the same opinion spooging all over the Internets immediately after you. But your ascetism has been noted.

9 Responses to “the trolls, they are us”

  1. Ian Betteridge Says:

    I’ve found myself doing the same thing: writing entire 1,000 word responses to something, then actually stopping and reading what I write. Then deleting the whole lot. It’s probably why I actually post so little these days.

  2. Suw Says:

    Danny, what was the column? I’ve been doing a lot of reading and thinking about email and the way people relate to their inbox, and I’d love to read this column to see what I think about it! I’d also love to know what you think about email, but that may have to wait til I see you next. ;-)

    I wrote a piece for the Guardian about the psychology of email (or at least, our obsession with the inbox), which I like to think was very carefully researched. It got onto Valleywag and Slashdot, and the comments were really funny – everyone seemed to think that their example of perfectly good email use invalidated all the studies with a “I’m fine, so this is all rubbish” sort of logic. Of course, that’s fairly typical for Valleywag and Slashdot – I mean, what else can you expect of a site, Valleywag, that can’t tell the difference between arithmetic and algebra?

  3. Robin Tell Says:

    I’ve done that once or twice. Usually I have better success by avoiding flame-tempting venues altogether.

    As someone who’s not really done the research, though–unless perhaps shoveling my own beleaguered inbox counts as data collection on some level–I’m really rather curious to hear what you’ve got to say on the subject. The last time I read any Deep Thought about it was when Lawrence Lessig and Declan McCullough made a bet about a law which I suppose has never been written.

  4. Why you're more troll than you think - Digital World Says:

    [...] O’Brien explains that it’s almost certainly best to just write it out and press delete – since you’re probably closer to being a troll than you think.People think trolls are other people: He/she is a troll, you are a feisty opponent, while I merely [...]

  5. Why you're more troll than you think Says:

    [...] O’Brien explains that it’s almost certainly best to just write it out and press delete – since you’re probably closer to being a troll than you think. People think trolls are other people: He/she is a troll, you are a feisty opponent, while I merely [...]

  6. sanimoyo Says:

    I have the same, deleting many posts I have written whilst highly emotional, unfortunatly some have lasted overnight on my blog.

  7. James Says:

    I’ve deleted one half-written post, and earlier decided against replying at all, in reply to comments on your latest post. It’s something I’ve been doing more often in recent times, for several reasons – there’s far too many wrong people on the internet for me to correct, they don’t deserve my attention, and I’m unlikely to convince them they’re wrong anyway.

    Somewhat relatedly, I’ve occasionally thought about penning an ode to the consumer, they who experience but do not contribute back and why that’s not a bad thing.

  8. Kori Says:

    Generally… I have a very hard time not responding, as most of the times when these things come up it is around issues that are very near and dear to me, and I want to do the right thing for the people that I care for, so the best idea is to just avoid these situations entirely. Unfortunately, however, any time there is a venue for support of my own view, it is always wrought with opposing and very hurtful (to me and others) comments. It’s a lose-lose situation.

  9. Early Modern Notes » Recently noted around the web Says:

    [...] the trolls, they are us  sometimes, everyone is wrong on the internet [...]

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

petit disclaimer:
My employer has enough opinions of its own, without having to have mine too.