I recently blogged about how Facebook has changed the game regarding the phenomenon of “trolling” because in theory it’s about going online with your real identity rather than a fake one, but people *do* assume pseudonyms on FB. Unlike email or message boards, however, for an admin or moderator, there’s really no way to tell if it’s the same person posting under 2 identities.
Well, another way Facebook has changed things is the concept of membership.
In the traditional scenario, a person joins a listserv or bulletin board, or visits a blog. That person reads and decides, “Hey! I have something to say!” Maybe the person has something constructive to say, something supportive, something oppositional, or something destructive. However, the person decides he or she wants to contribute to the discussion. If the site is open, he or she posts a comment. Otherwise, he or she signs on for a membership. In either case, the person *chooses* to join the discussion.
Well, much ado was made a while back about a relatively new feature on Facebook where users can add their friends to groups. They used to just suggest them. Now, if someone thinks you should be on the “Moms who think Anthony Wiggle is Hot” group, they can just add you to that group, and, voila!, you’re a Mom Who Thinks Anthony Wiggle is Hot.
So, in the old days, a “troll” was someone who joined an online group just to be destructively oppositional, and would often get kicked off of said online community for bad behavior.
Now, on Facebook, if someone doesn’t like what you have to say about a particular topic, they can actually sign you up to their group of like-minded individuals and bait you into responding, so they can gang up on you.
A few weeks ago, this happened in a discussion of modesty. I took the moderate stance I usually do on the topic. A woman told me about some pro-modesty FB group and told me I should join it–I wasn’t clear if she wanted me to join it because she thought I would fit in or because she thought I needed a lesson.
Well, I looked at the group’s page, and it was mostly a bunch of radTrads being rather immodest in how they were talking about the Pope, Vatican II and the Divine Liturgy. I decided I wanted no part of it, especially since just a few days before I had officially renounced calling myself a “traditionalist” because I was sick of being told by sedevacantists, etc., that I’m not “real traditionalist.”
Well, before I knew it, I was on this modesty group, signed up by the woman who “recommended” me. Thanks.
Recently, some people started a “Catholic Spiritual Warfare” page, which is really a “We Hate Harry Potter” page. Then they sign up anyone who does not think it’s a mortal sin to touch a HP book so they can lynch him or her.
They did it to a friend of mine a couple days ago.
Then I went on the site last night, and commented on a thread about Fr. Amorth to say that he’s a good source but not very credible in some respects, and we shouldn’t listen to him when he makes blanket statements about bishops being satanists, because even if that’s likely true, the way he makes these blanket statements leads people to mistrust bishops in general. This led to a good old fashioned flame war, where I was declared to be
a) educated–and “school doesn’t teach you anything”
c) a contraception supporter
d) an occultist
e) someone who thinks it’s OK for some people to read _Harry Potter_ books (at this point, they said, “Well, that says enough about your character.”)
So, now, instead of an antagonistic person joining a group of like minded people to antagonize them, now the antagonistic people can form groups, bait people who disagree with them but are looking for intellectual conversation into a discussion, and then gang up on the person they disagree with so they can feel superior and *then* after all that, accuse the person *they* brought into their group of being a troll.
“And they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love!
And they’ll know we are Christians by our love!”