Could you spot an internet troll?

05 Sep 2022 11:11 #370132 by Getracyn
Sadly as the technology goes forward the visible line between "real virtual people" and "faked virtual people" is getting thinner and thinner.

At this point it is no longer about "is it a real person". We should focus more on "How does the person affect me?"

Example - misinformation can be spread by bots, trolls or people who genuinely believe the information. At this point the source does not matter. All you have to do is a fact check.

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06 Sep 2022 11:51 #370152 by Carlos.Martinez3
There is a presence some describe as simulated and unstimulated presence. Happy seeking

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11 Sep 2022 11:52 - 12 Sep 2022 22:12 #370194 by Alexandre Orion
There are some interesting considerations concerning this topic.

There are a few common terms which I don't feel we ought to be using as much as we do. That is, when thinking about people, we just tend to jump to these conclusions about them pretty rapidly. We must be much more cautious. They are generic labels which have turned into go-to categorisations any time we encounter someone who expresses things - not only in a way we may not like - but just in a manner that gives us cause to make a judgement.

One of these is "troll".

Before determining whether on not we could spot an internet troll, we might want to come to a consensus about what we're talking about.

Primo, there are no virtual people except for those generated in our vidéo games and/or some high-profile celebrity personalities curated as industrial investments. We don't tend to use the word "troll" when talking about spam-bots. Those whom we are calling "trolls" are indeed people, connecting through an electronic device to communicate, if only to be making some public noise to let Others know they exist. I'm only saying "they" because we are talking about people we call "trolls", but we all do this. I'd also like to note that I italicised the words in the previous phrase because they need to be accentuated (not phonetically, but meaning-wise).

Secundo, real human beings have a profound existential need to communicate (our virtual game characters and public faces of celebrities do not). It is one of the most fundamental aspects of life (not only human life, but we'll condense it to that in the interest of brevity for this reply). Communication is not limited to verbal language, but on an internet platform, it is the verbal which will come across most prevalently. There are also two complementary dimensions to communication : the normative - which serves the interest of social cohesion, shared/divergent values, participation in society ; and the functional - disseminating information in the interest of fostering particular behaviours and/or attitudes, cooperation in specific projets, propaganda &c.. We also must consider that mass communication, be it traditional media - newspapers, radio, television, cinema -, or contemporary media - subscriber television, internet - has been divided between generalist and thematic, with generalist being that which is sent out to everyone irrespective of communitarian interests and the thematic that which is tailored to (as much as can be done) communitarian interests. Moreover, we have come recently (by recently, I mean over the past 50 years, not the past 50 days) to refer to the informations being communicated as "content" of which the public are the consumers. There is an important economic/financial interest in promoting "content" to attract a wide consumer base which has essentially capitalised on our inherent human need to exist, to be heard, to belong... In other words, the normative dimension of communication has been to a great degree absorbed by the functional ; the tyrannical ideology of choice in our mass individualistic culture has perverted our notion of social cohesion and shared values. This is resulting in an evolutionary catastrophe.

It is important to note here that disseminating information is not communicating.

Tertio, it will come as a shock to no one that we live in an era of information overload. Our perpetual connectedness to the excessively surplus ambiant information, and within that the incitation to choose our own identities, has made us rather schizophrenic (our personalities become like a patchwork quilt). We tend to become our avatars, and that not just on-line, but in our physical presences with Others when- and wherever we interact. There are more places on the internet than there are in the Solar system now, and we can visit most of them from our limited geographical "place". We are also living in an era of extreme personal isolation, regardless of who or how many may be around. One solution to this existential conundrum is to seek out "like-minded" people (people who have about the same uptake - no matter how limited - on the information available) on the Internet in the hopes of being understood, appreciated, acknowledged...

Thus, under such stressful conditions, it isn't a huge mystery that people approach social interactions in such a way as to self-aggrandise, to try to stand out (exist = existo/existere : to stand out, come forth from the background) to emulate those which are heavily mediatised - be they film characters, celebrated personalities, important economic or political actors - which are merely representations presented to us through the omni-media and have no integral reality. Ergo, we also aspire to be un-real, though we don't actually think about that. Therein lies that schizophrenic pulsion I mentioned earlier : we have an innate need to communicate, to be perceived, to matter as someone "real", yet we are conditioned to aspire, to emulate, to present ourselves as mere representation, that which is "un-real" or simulated.

As some have pointed out, some people come into our midst proclaiming supernatural prowess (inspired by commercialised fictions, undoubtedly - [super]hero identification), yet others come and introduce themselves with their laundry-list of psychic pathologies (inspired by the need for comprehension and compassion - which is common to us all), yet in both cases (and we can't limit the strategies to but these two - people are still remarkably creative in their self-presentations), yet it all comes back to that burning need to "stand out", to be recognised, to be perceived... to exist. This is not "trolling", it is a common need we all experience. But, many, perhaps most, of us have never developed the cultural or intellectual capital to contribute in any monumental, world-altering way (myself included). We never get around to thinking that of all the people who have ever existed throughout all of human history, not very many of us are in the history books. Yet, out of the around 49 000 000 000 of us who have lived throughout all the human generations, we could conjecture that there are more "real" ways of existing than to pretend to incarnate the unreal representation of our media-inspired aspirations. We simply need to disconnect from our networks and reconnect to who we are. Youtubers with millions of followers are a fascinating aberration of thematic media. The concept of social media influencers is downright obscene. And, there is little wonder why the Self-Help industry is £ 12 000 000 000 annually (on average) quite lucrative : there aren't so very many of us comfortable in our own skins. Those mediatised, publicised (therefore also capitalised) gurus are also pretty pretentious, but how many of them get labelled "trolls" - even if what they diffuse is even more deceptive and potentially dangerous than claiming to suffer from the whole DSM-5 or controlling natural phenomena with the Force ?

At any rate, since we all have that need to be recognised, to be heard, to belong, but just some of us have had the privilege to gain access to the cultural and intellectual capital to do so in a more digestible way for Others, is it fair that those who have not been so lucky are called "trolls" and that they are "toxic" ?

They are real human beings - not virtual. They have the same human needs which have probably gone unmet for most of their lives (which can also be true for most of us "non-trolls"). They are not "toxic". Our mass individualistic consumer cultural paradigm probably is...

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