Many of us find it easy to lose hours each week debating with e-friends, e-foes, and our favorite/least favorite writers here in the blogosphere. It can be fun, informative or just a way to make the work week pass away more quickly. I know I have a sassy mouth on me that can tick people off from time to time, and I’ve been miffed by fellow commenter as well. At the end of the day, however, most of us are just sharing our views and ideas for the sake of sharing views and ideas. Even if you get your ‘pressha’ up from time to time, it’s essentially done in the spirit of debate.
However, there are people who log on to popular sites for no other reason than to say incendiary, hurtful or provocative things in order to get a rise out of other readers. If you’ve ever read the comments on CNN.com, or any of the other widely-read news channels, you’ve surely seen blatantly racist remarks. Sites with primarily Black readership, such as Essence.com, have also been subject to abuse from folks saying terrible, bigoted things for no other reason than to get readers upset. And surely you have noticed some commentary on sites like our beloved CLUTCH that seemed to be a bit harsher than simply someone going hard in the paint for their views.
Don’t get sucked in the troll trap! When someone is saying something that seems mind-blowingly ignorant, such as, “Most little black boys are going to grow up to be felons anyway!” or, “I always sleep with light skinned women, because they’re easy. Just tell them how pretty and light they are,” it’s pretty darn obvious that they “only said that to get you mad” (Mase voice). Another blog site that I frequent has two “male” commenters who say the nastiest things about how they view and treat women. One comment that stood out: “I don’t date fat women. That’s any woman who is over 120 pounds.” And women will go back and forth with them all the live long day! For what? When someone is saying just ugly, mean-spirited things, they aren’t interested in a real discussion and they aren’t going to have a change of heart.
The anonomyity of the internet is a dangerous thing. While some of us are using our real names and/or faces, others are hiding behind the protection of the computer screen—not to preserve their professional identity or privacy, but to be better able to attack and incite trouble. Or, because if we saw who they really are, they wouldn’t be able to get away with some of the awful things they say. In fact, I know for a fact that some of the worst comments are coming from people who are lying about their race, age, gender, level of education, etc, etc.
Enjoy and engage in all the debates you want . . . but please, don’t feed the trolls!