August 25, 2012
The Fibreculture Journal is calling for papers for a special Issue entitled The Politics of Trolling and the Negative Space of the Internet.
They say that the Internet has continued to function as a “redemptive technology”. Social media is just the latest in a long line of technologies which may, on a certain vision, rescue liberal democracy, with its decaying civic life and corrupt media, from itself.However, there is, proportionally, too little attention to the everyday conflicts that haunt all such communities. Some conflict is temporary, and can be accounted for in terms of long-standing democratic theory. But some conflict is persistent, intractable. Some of it is gratuitous, and deliberately disruptive. Online, those who bring it about are often subject to normative disapprobation. Sometimes people call them trolls.
Troll”, as a term of moral opprobrium, indicates an online actor who is not interested in deliberation, but in derailing it. Trolling is not apt to be captured by network maps or visualisations of online publics, because these teachniques cannot discern which nodes in a conversational network are created in bad faith, or in a spirit of disruptive play. Trolls are not interested in redeeming democracy through deliberation, and they mock attempts to do so. Trolls respect no procedural rules, though they may be generative of them. Trolls are the constitutive outside of online communities of political discussion, they are the intolerable of the most tolerant communities. Trolls are usually someone else, defined from our own position and interests. When they are not, and we inhabit trolling, we discover that trolling requires know-how, close reading, experience, sometimes sympathy with those we would disrupt.
They add that the intellectual desire for open and constitutive democracy has overridden the ‘actually existing democracy’ of bullying, trolling, threats, inane memes and low signal-to-noise ratios.
There is a lot of internet misogyny because what what men can no longer say in public, they can and do say anonymously on the internet. The standard justification is that they fed up with political correctness. It's not just misogyny either. There is partisan politics based on an existential friend/enemy distinction; climate change denial;
Wilson, McCrea and Fuller, the editors of the special journal, ask: 'what are the consequences to seeing trolling and other forms of affective behaviour as the norm, rather than the aberrant?'