The World has always been a Troll Society

Thanks to the Internet, we are not only able to communicate with other people around the world and share our views. We can also see what others share… and we balk and rage at some of the things we see. So here’s another thing the Internet affords us; we are now able to fling our sour sentiments to the rest of the world.


For example, a person hates Spongebob tattoos. He’s never seen Spongebob tattoos in his town. When there was no Internet, he never saw them either. But now the Internet brings pictures of them to him. He goes on attack mode and leaves messages on how he hates Spongebob tattoos. He even insults people who posts these pictures. He even calls these people and Spongebob tattoos a threat to his lifestyle and the security it affords. Even if it doesn’t really pose a threat at all.

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If one assumes this is harmless, wait until he snaps and decides he must eliminate the threat. He gets a gun, goes out and kills the nearest person with a Spongebob tattoo. The Spongebob tattoo things makes it sound farfetched; but substitute that with something else realistic, such as hijabs, other pop culture items and seeing people of other ethnic origins, there you go.

People may have lamented the Internet’s seeming violent nature, with so many hate messages and insults being thrown over distances. Some say the Internet itself and technology brings its own brand of violence. I however believe a simpler reason: the Internet magnifies what already exists.

Many things, like hatred and distrust of people unlike oneself, are already a staple part of societies. It is likely a remnant of the survival instinct of prehistoric times that even today, people have failed to rein in. Again mentioning my personal blog, I have explained that humanity’s instinct when faced with scarcity, such as a well in the desert, is to eliminate the competitors to this resource. The alternative, when the people involved don’t like to share, is to subjugate the other and keep control of the resource. That also means having control over the other person (and if the person resists, kill them).

These days, even things like happiness are treated as objects of vicious competition. “If I must be happy, someone else must be sad.” When someone else wins, the sore loser tries to bring down the winner. Another instance is when they see things they hate or are bothered by, they want to attack it or the person posting it. Humanity seems to be a naturally insecure creature and maintains its primitiveness.

The character of Bruce Banner as played by Mark Ruffalo in the 2012 Avengers action flick says, one reason he keeps the Hulk in check is, “I’m always angry.” In real life, I believe the same applies to ordinary people in the opposite way. People have a “hulk” or a “troll” in them that gets out of control because they are also always angry.

Angry that they can’t always get what they want. Angry that life has difficulties. Angry that things don’t always go their way. Angry that things are not always under their control. Angry that life isn’t fair. Angry that there are such things as annoyances. But on the other hand people who can’t deal with these things may be called brats or spoiled. These things are part of life after all (M. Scott Peck, “life is hard;” although I would say, life is hard because people are hard).

But the institutions of the world have always taught people to be angry, even for things that they should not be angry about. The insecurity described above is partly instilled in them by society. Human beings are so narcissistic, parochial and inward-looking that they seem to see themselves as the only right things in the world. If they see other things, cultures and customs, they may see this as evil and seek to destroy them. They are taught that anything different from them is a threat. Add to this a supposed need to be “proud.”

People resort to control of other people, believing it to be the surest way to ensure non-removal of comfort and removal of threats to this comfort. One would be quick to mention mass shooters as an extreme example of this. But don’t be fooled. This can apply even to politically correct people, who want to force their ideals onto the world. They not only try to weasel their agenda into policy, they even set out to argue with other people who disagree with them, especially online. They become “accidental trolls.”

People have always exhibited this behavior offline as well, and thus, the solutions to changing these attitudes of people should be applied offline. In the real world. This should be done to entities such as hoax-spreaders that some Islamophobia-spreading parties in the west are banking on. Hoaxes had their start offline. The Nigerian Scam that became common in email inboxes and private messages was once mailed to our houses – on paper. My parents received such a letter.

We Filipinos have often heard the line often delivered in jest: “any violent reaction?” This is one of the problem areas. People can have reactions, but they don’t need to be violent even if they oppose something. But the idea that violence is necessary in a reaction is one of the cores. People often have the mentality of the “offended queen” – “remove that thing that offends me!”

Perhaps the anger of people is misdirected. There are some things that certainly deserve some anger. There is the practice called female circumcision in parts of Africa. There are the abductions of women and children by Boko Haram and the Lord’s Resistance Army in the same continent. There are cultures where infanticide is treated as a normal thing. There are many other things, but often we cannot do much unless we or someone else goes there to do something. We can only sit commenting about it and sharing it with others – which does not amount to much.

There’s a reason why “keep calm and carry on” has become popular in today’s times. It implies that you should just let something that offends you pass and move on. In other words, that’s tolerance. But there’s the problem; people don’t want to let things pass. Some people seem to feel like it is their duty to destroy something that offends them. Thus, we have violence all over the world.

One thing though about the Internet is that it did bring together some people who want to transcend the parochiality and finally accept each other’s difference. They don’t rage or whine about someone being different in culture, custom or opinion. What you can share or talk about can reach someone or a group with the capability to act on it. One of the reasons religion has been effective in organizing efforts is that it often requires people to put aside their egos and come together to achieve a common goal. Organized efforts will always be hindered when even just one person lets their ego monster take over.

Of course, there is the lesson usually taught these days: Be willing to make sacrifices (the right kind) and give up some of your desired comforts in life. Yet another thing religion teaches, and perhaps another thing that makes some anti-religionists angry. But even wiser non-religious people accept that you can’t have it all. If people stopped being so aggressive against others while chasing their comforts, that would reduce a lot of the world’s violence.

15 Replies to “The World has always been a Troll Society”

  1. If only everyone follows the negative form of the Golden Rule or otherwise stated as the moral imperative of not doing unto others what we do not want others done on us and see to it that others are punished for violation of this moral imperative with the harsh Lex Taliones and more, then anger in this world would greatly be lessened.

    1. The Golden Rule and Lex Taliones are rather intellectual ideas. I’m talking about people who follow their stomachs. That’s what I’m saying: violence happens because people feel desperate about filling their stomachs. Perhaps Lex taliones came about as an expansion of that, while Golden Rule was another response.

  2. Philosophers, such as Immanuel Kant and Friedrich Nietzsche, have objected to the rule on a variety of grounds. The most serious among these is its application. How does one know how others want to be treated? The obvious way is to ask them, but this cannot be done if one assumes they have not reached a particular and relevant understanding.

    Differences in values or interests
    Shaw’s comment about differing tastes suggests that if your values are not shared with others, the way you want to be treated will not be the way they want to be treated. Hence, the Golden Rule of “due unto others” is “dangerous in the wrong hands,” according to philosopher Iain King, because “some fanatics have no aversion to death: the Golden Rule might inspire them to kill others in suicide missions.”

    Differences in situations
    Immanuel Kant famously criticized the golden rule for not being sensitive to differences of situation, noting that a prisoner duly convicted of a crime could appeal to the golden rule while asking the judge to release him, pointing out that the judge would not want anyone else to send him to prison, so he should not do so to others. Kant’s Categorical Imperative, introduced in Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals, is often confused with the Golden Rule.

    Cannot be a sole guide to action
    Philosopher Iain King has argued that “(although) the idea of mirroring your treatment of others with their treatment of you is very widespread indeed… most ancient wisdoms express this negatively – advice on what you should not do, rather than what you should.” He argues this creates a bias in favour of inertia which allows bad actions and states of affairs to persist. The positive formulation, meanwhile, can be “incendiary”, since it “can lead to cycles of tit-for-tat reciprocity,” unless it is accompanied by a corrective mechanism, such as a concept of forgiveness.
    Therefore, he concludes that there can be no viable formulation of the Golden Rule, unless it is heavily qualified by other maxims.

    1. Just apply good old common sense to the Golden Rule. Do you want to be beaten up badly, humiliated or stolen from? Then don’t do it to others. But if you want to do it to others, and yet don’t want it done to you, then you’re an asshole. Simply put.

      1. Chino,
        I do understand the golden rule and I also understand the criticism.

        Simply put: I can steal from you without you even having/getting the slightest chance to steal from me (nothing personal. Just pls replace the ‘I’, ‘me’ and the ‘you’ by whoever).

  3. Arguing with anonymous strangers on the Internet is a sucker’s game because they almost always turn out to be — or to be indistinguishable from — self-righteous sixteen-year-olds possessing infinite amounts of free time.

  4. OK, I’ve read the story about a couple who decided to live a Victorian-era life, and the last part really appalls me:

    “We live in a world that can be terribly hostile to difference of any sort. Societies are rife with bullies who attack nonconformists of any stripe. Gabriel’s workout clothes were copied from the racing outfit of a Victorian cyclist, and when he goes swimming, his hand-knit wool swim trunks raise more than a few eyebrows — but this is just the least of the abuse we’ve taken. We have been called “freaks,” “bizarre,” and an endless slew of far worse insults. We’ve received hate mail telling us to get out of town and repeating the word “kill … kill … kill.” Every time I leave home I have to constantly be on guard against people who try to paw at and grope me. Dealing with all these things and not being ground down by them, not letting other people’s hostile ignorance rob us of the joy we find in this life — that is the hard part. By comparison, wearing a Victorian corset is the easiest thing in the world.

    This is why more people don’t follow their dreams: They know the world is a cruel place for anyone who doesn’t fit into the dominant culture. Most people fear the bullies so much that they knuckle under simply to be left alone. In the process, they crush their own dreams.”

    People can be such asses.

  5. @d_forsaken: Have you tried arguing with long dead philosophers ? lol

    The theory of reflexivity as popularized by George Soros works wonders to my enlightened.

    If only riding in tandem assassins are not paid dirty cheap in this country and our justice system is not excruciatingly slow, flawed, expensive and tedious, then I would not hesitate to come out in the open.

  6. @d_forsaken: Have you tried arguing with long dead philosophers ? lol

    9Sorry for the typo above. usually happens with a jurrasic android that and notime to edit or read it again.

    The theory of reflexivity as popularized by George Soros works wonders to my enlightenment by pitting my ideas with others.

    If only riding in tandem assassins are not paid dirty cheap in this country and our justice system is not excruciatingly slow, flawed, expensive and tedious, then I would not hesitate to come out in the open.

  7. The internet has brought, good and bad things. There are : trolls; scammers; sexual predators; internet bullies; sexual exhibitors; etc…all kinds of vermin, in the hyperspace.

    At least, you can blog/communicate freely; contribute your wisdom or ignorance in the blog/hyperspace. You can tell people, your true feelings: anger, outrage; negative and positive emotions, etc…

    Use the internet wisely !

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