After the course readings and videos this week, I was left disappointed and upset with our social culture. I began this post writing about why trolls were the whole problem, why white-middle-aged men were causing this, and how we should just ignore people who revel in creating emotional distress by turning of comments or not responding. However, I think this issue is beyond complicated, it is not only about trolls and white-middle-aged men, and how if we ignore these issues, they will go away. These issues of trolling, online harassment, and scammers are complex issues that deal with more than just a problem our society is facing on the internet, it is impacting our social culture and society as whole.

Why is harassment, especially targeted at women, in the online space so common? Why is sexist, racist, and hateful language seen as a norm? Why are we encouraged to not feed the trolls and simply ignore them, allowing this issue to continue? How do we make change?

Trolling, online harassment, and scammers are complex issues that need to be compared to real life crime. In some cases it is more than harassment and online abuse, the terms online harassment and online abuse are too easy to disregard and not see as complex issues, often telling people to ignore it or get off the internet if you don’t like it. Is this how we would treat people with offline issues of the same complexity? No. As John Oliver compares online issues to real life, it would be like saying, if you don’t want to get burgled, then don’t live in a house.

There’s no quick technological fix to end hate speech online, for it’s a deeply rooted societal ill which needs greater tackling offline – not a one-day Twitter boycott or a report abuse button” —Marta Cooper via The Telegraph

What can we do as a society to end hate speech, stop sexism, end racism, work towards social justice, and tackle complex issues online? To begin we should start the conversation and continue to speak out about controversial issues. Technology is not the problem here, it is a bigger societal issue.


20 thoughts on “Is it more than good-bad, clean-dirty, acceptable-taboo?

  1. I totally agree Kristina- I believe the ‘troll’ phenomenon is a small part of a much larger social problem, and I don’t think there’s an easy way to ‘fix’ it, because it is primarily a social issue that needs to be addressed on a larger scale.

    When our society continues to marginalize so many on an ongoing basis it’s not difficult to understand that this would continue more freely in a sphere that legally hasn’t caught up to the ‘in person’ sphere.

    1. Thanks for the comment Amy! I really struggle with the fact that it hasn’t caught up yet. Why do people think it is ok just because they are behind a screen or a anonymous? Where is the compassion, empathy, and critical thinking?
      Do you think we are making progress to make these changes or do you think our children’s children will still be dealing with this same issue?

      1. I’m going to stay ‘glass is half full’ on this one, and go with “we are making progress” it may be painfully slow, and we may still have an uphill battle but I’m hopeful that we’re not stagnating!

  2. Totally agree. The issue is deeper than technology and social media.. it’s just the new medium for negative behaviours and is made more public.
    While talking about them is great, I feel that people sometimes say “don’t just talk actually do something” and “slacktivism” and I struggle with this notion. Because it’s important we, as educators, remember that talk comes before action… and that talk is learning, is action, and has the potential to grow to more action.

    1. Great point Logan! I agree with your point on slacktivism… I agree that talking about it is the first step to leading to a movement and has potential to grow more action. It will not happen over night, but starting these conversations and inquires will hopefully encourage action. The alternative is to not be called a “slacktivist” and just ignore the problem, pretend it isn’t as bad as it is, or continue to be naiive. The more people talk about it, the greater audience, and the more chance for a movement. Thanks for reading!

  3. I totally agree with that technology is not the problem here, it is a bigger societal issue. Gender oppression is a social issue which relates to patriarchy. In our society, women are viewed as the subsidiary part of men. More worse, when people encounter this kind of sensitive topic, they prefer to avoid rather than stop to or fix it. Therefore, it becomes worse.

    1. Couldn’t agree more Bing. It is sad that in 2016 we are still dealing with this sexism and that people would rather avoid the sensitive topic than try to make a difference. As a class, I think we are making small steps towards progress and change, starting to talk and blog about these issues although we may provoke trolls ourselves.

      1. I’m curious as to how many classmates feared being trolled themselves while blogging this week. I wrote this week in my post that I am fully aware that my posts can always be criticized by viewers but I admit I would not react well to being “trolled”. I think my first response would be the retreat and shy away from sharing on social media. I agree that starting this conversation is the first step but I struggle with what to do next. You’re right Kristina, I agree that this is all part of a larger societal problem. When problems are so large it’s hard to picture how our talk transforms into action.

  4. Erin, that did actually cross my mind as well! I am not sure how I would react, I would probably be quite upset as I am a sensitive person, but I guess I won’t know until it happens. I think just being aware of trolls and spreading awareness we are maybe working towards change.

  5. The problem is we aren’t here to stop those things in the blogosphere. As much as we hate the “hate speech, racism” sexism, etc…” it is all part of the freedom of opinion that so many of us bloggers enjoy. Trolls are trolls and many people make too much over them. Now people label a “differing opinion” as a troll comment… when it isn’t. It is just another opinion. It is good to be aware and to be prepared when on social media. We also don’t have to be so afraid either. People make way to big of a deal over things. I’ve been trolled, threatened, etc… and I am still here. Blogging. 🙂

    1. It’s important to bear in mind that we are applying this to education as well though. We (you and I), as digitally experienced individuals, may not “make too much” over trolls, but I think we need to be aware of the effects it has on developing, vulnerable minds. “She’s an ugly slut” for example, is not a valid opinion. Different opinions for/against gun rights shared on a blog would be great, as you said it helps us prepare for social media and we grow when ideas are challenged. I definitely agree in the preparedness to deal with the potential risks of social media as it is an unfortunate reality of it. Once again though, as an educator and future parent I can’t assume that all students or individuals are equipped to deal with these kind of people online. We can prepare or numb ourselves to it, but we shouldn’t excuse abusive behaviour. I’ve been threatened too, but because it’s normal doesn’t make it okay.

      1. I agree it doesn’t make it ok. But we also can’t wear ourselves out fighting battles that will never be won. Trolls will always exist because their existence isn’t illegal in most cases. I choose to focus my energy on community and writing instead. That is how I live as a current parent. 🙂

      2. Fair enough. Does it not feel pessimistic at all though to think it is a fight that will never be won? Seems like a bummer.

        Understand your point though for sure. Some people may choose to fight these fights though, others may not. Happy blogging!

        Not digitally experienced enough apparently… messed up on reply.

      3. No worries and it might be pessimistic. I’ve been around here for a bit though so it is in my bones. I simply choose to focus on what I can change and impact. Thanks for your responses and I wish you and your classmates the best as you explore the blogosphere!

      4. I say “digitally experienced” in a broad sense, by the way. As everyone is becoming more digitally experienced over time (myself and students). And I meant this specifically applying it to students, I shouldn’t be afraid to be abused (sometimes synonymous with trolled) for my opinion, and that hurts/inhibits bloggers form sharing their opinion.

      5. Like Logan said, just because it’s normal doesn’t mean it’s ok. You’re right that we won’t win the war on trollers and harassment on social media. We live in a culture that has us swimming in messages that hypersexualize women, normalize gendered violence etc…so this is a massive sociological problem. However, by defaulting to the logic that they will always be there so we ought to ignore it/tolerate it/broaden our shoulders is dangerous too. It enables the problem and the cycle to continue. We need to consider changing the tide by rebuilding a new set of norms from the bottom-up on social media i.e. participating and making our thoughts visible on Twitter/FB/Wordpress. Yes, there’s freedom of speech but we have all signed a social contract that doesn’t accept the violation of human rights. We have a moral imperative to uphold those rights and make these behaviors online not just unacceptable but serious consequences legally and socially…and we need to unite by working together collectively.

    2. Thanks for your opinion. This post was meant to start a dialogue. We might not be able to stop these things in the blogosphere, but we can definitely bring awareness to the complex issues. Everyone is entitled to their opinion; however, I am not sure I would call online harassment (which many of the cases reference) as “freedom of speech or opinion”. There is a difference between a healthy dialogue with differing opinions and online harassment. Like I said, blogging and technology in general is not the issue here, harassment existed long before the digital age, it is a bigger societal issue.

      1. Yea but who defines harassment? For instance, some bloggers are so scared of trolls they’d consider my comments here today as troll comments just because I disagree. I seek healthy dialogue as well. I suppose the apparently fear from the post and comments intrigued me and made me wonder what was behind it all. Anyways, thanks for the responses and I wish you all the best!

  6. Fair enough. Does it not feel pessimistic at all though to think it is a fight that will never be won? Seems like a bummer.

  7. Understand your point though for sure. Some people may choose to fight these fights, others may not. Happy blogging!

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