Sociological analyses of ‘online deviancy’ tend to focus on such traits as Machiavellianism, narcissism, psychopathy and sadism. Phillips debunks all this. It does little more, she says, than redescribe the phenomena with a particular moral accent, while asking us to take for granted the meaningfulness of the categories (‘deviancy’, ‘personality type’) used. Instead, she stresses the role of mainstream culture, arguing that trolls are ‘agents of cultural digestion’.
The dissociation and detached humour of trolling subcultures is perhaps best displayed in the extraordinary variety of jokes and memes about 9/11. Phillips believes this is an outgrowth of the cynicism that pervades the heavily mediated culture of the US. The television coverage of 9/11 and its aftermath consisted in 15-second snippets of horror and atrocity sandwiched between prolonged stretches of ‘rubbish’, in such a way as to provoke ironic detachment. The Bush administration extended the invitation to dissociate. ‘Stuff happens,’ Donald Rumsfeld said with psychopathic cheer in response to chaotic scenes of destruction in occupied Iraq; ‘Now watch this drive,’ Bush said, returning to his golf swing after delivering a sober message about the need to resist terrorism. After a brief interval of ‘moral seriousness’, the administration urged the people to have fun and go shopping, while driving up panic with colour-coded terror alerts. The affective gap formed in this period may have been widened by trolls, but they didn’t create it.
Infotext zum Buch:
Internet trolls live to upset as many people as possible, using all the technical and psychological tools at their disposal. They gleefully whip the media into a frenzy over a fake teen drug crisis; they post offensive messages on Facebook memorial pages, traumatizing grief-stricken friends and family; they use unabashedly racist language and images. They take pleasure in ruining a complete stranger's day and find amusement in their victim's anguish. In short, trolling is the obstacle to a kinder, gentler Internet. To quote a famous Internet meme, trolling is why we can't have nice things online. Or at least that's what we have been led to believe. In this provocative book, Whitney Phillips argues that trolling, widely condemned as obscene and deviant, actually fits comfortably within the contemporary media landscape. Trolling may be obscene, but, Phillips argues, it isn't all that deviant. Trolls' actions are born of and fueled by culturally sanctioned impulses -- which are just as damaging as the trolls' most disruptive behaviors.
Phillips describes, for example, the relationship between trolling and sensationalist corporate media -- pointing out that for trolls, exploitation is a leisure activity; for media, it's a business strategy. She shows how trolls, "the grimacing poster children for a socially networked world," align with social media. And she documents how trolls, in addition to parroting media tropes, also offer a grotesque pantomime of dominant cultural tropes, including gendered notions of dominance and success and an ideology of entitlement. We don't just have a trolling problem, Phillips argues; we have a culture problem. This Is Why We Can't Have Nice Things isn't only about trolls; it's about a culture in which trolls thrive.
University of Toronto Free Speech Debate: „Here is the debate held Nov 19 at 9:30 am at the University of Toronto on Free Speech, Political Correctness and Bill C-16. Participants included Dean David Cameron, who introduced the debate. Mayo Moran, a law professor, who moderated it, psychology Professor Jordan B Peterson, speaking out against the legislation, and Professors Brenda Cossman and Mary Bryson, who defended it.“
Do you believe that society should draw the line at all when it comes to limitations on hate speech?
No. Hate speech laws are wrong. The question – not a question, but THE question – is ‘who gets to define hate?” That’s not to say there’s no such thing as hate speech – clearly there is. Hate speech laws repress, and I mean that in the psycho-analytical sense. They drive [hate speech] underground. It’s not a good idea, because things get ugly when you drive them underground. They don’t disappear, they just fester, and they’re not subject to correction. I made these videos, and they have been subject to a tremendous amount of correction over the last six weeks. I don’t just mean from my public response, but also partly from the university’s response, partly from a group of friends who have been reviewing my videos and criticizing them to death. This is why free speech is so important. You can struggle to formulate some argument, but when you throw it out into the public, there’s a collective attempt to modify and improve that. So with the hate speech issue – say someone’s a Holocaust denier, because that’s the standard routine – we want those people out there in the public so you can tell them why they’re historically ignorant, and why their views are unfounded and dangerous. If you drive them underground, it’s not like they stop talking to each other, they just don’t talk to anyone who disagrees with them. That’s a really bad idea and that’s what’s happening in the United States right now. Half of the country doesn’t talk to the other half. Do you know what you call people you don’t talk to? Enemies.
They are not wrong, but they are not right either: The Outline: MEMES DO NOT MATTER – Pepe didn't swing the election: „We remember memes like swarming insects. They move with such frenetic grace that our primitive eyes struggle to pin down anything but the mass itself, a survival strategy used by the vermin of the world to evade predation. As Mao once said, 'All memes are paper tigers.'“ Ofcourse Pepe didn't swing any Election. But he gave Aesthetics to the Narrative and made it sexy to imitate aka memify in the process and that played no small part.
JONATHAN CHAIT (writer and columnist, New York magazine)
Sparing the Republic from the whims of a twisted maniac is no small triumph. Clinton’s skeptics have already been denying credit for her expected victory by noting that she benefited from facing the least popular major party nominee in history, and that a normal Republican could have defeated her. This misses the extraordinary nature of the opposition that produced this unpopularity in the first place. Clinton has absorbed 25 years of relentless and frequently crazed hate directed at her husband, compounded by her status as a feminist symbol, which made her the subject of additional loathing. Her very real missteps were compounded by a press corps that treated her guilt as an unexamined background assumption. She is almost certainly the first president to survive simultaneous leak-attacks by both a faction of rogue right-wing FBI agents and Russian intelligence.
Being wrong about candidates generally costs you nothing, unlike being deluded about more practical matters. If you think you can fly, you will get a painful lesson when you leap off your roof. But if you believe that Barack Obama is a Muslim—as more than half of Republican primary voters did—you suffer no injury from indulging that fantasy.
In fact, you gain something: a powerful sense of connection with others who share your outlook. For most people who have great interest in politics, argued George Mason University economist Bryan Caplan in his 2007 book, The Myth of the Rational Voter, ideology is a form of religion, and its disciples act more on faith than on evidence.
"Human beings want their religion's answers to be true," he wrote, and stick to them in the face of contradictory information. We have little reason to behave differently on Election Day. "Why control your knee-jerk emotional and ideological reactions if you can't change the outcome?" asked Caplan.
Middle school, high school and college students in 12 states were asked to evaluate the information presented in tweets, comments and articles. More than 7,800 student responses were collected.
In exercise after exercise, the researchers were "shocked" — their word, not ours — by how many students failed to effectively evaluate the credibility of that information.
The students displayed a "stunning and dismaying consistency" in their responses, the researchers wrote, getting duped again and again. They weren't looking for high-level analysis of data but just a "reasonable bar" of, for instance, telling fake accounts from real ones, activist groups from neutral sources and ads from articles.
In recognizing comedy’s limits, we should be left with a sense that all of civil government, all of ethics, all of civilization is at stake. We stand with one foot over the edge of an abyss, and the answer is not to avert our gaze, stifle a helpless giggle, and pretend things are all right. Even those of us who have laughed ourselves into a state of despairing skepticism have reason to remain brave and hopeful in our struggles for what is good and right. Otherwise we will lapse into cynicism and indifference, chiding one another for our mistakes and chuckling to ourselves about the impossibility of altering this untenable state of affairs. Comedy isn’t some all-powerful messianic force that can alter the course of history, but it’s right to expect that our comedians will continue alerting us, their voices increasingly strident and urgent, to the fires off in the distance. We must heed their warnings, and extinguish these blazes before it’s too late.
CJR staff writer David Uberti wrote this three days after the election: „It feels as if we’ve collectively aged years over the past three days, as a cascade of takes on what the hell journalism got wrong has distracted the press from the important work of figuring out how to cover a potentially dangerous Trump presidency. We’ve done what we do best: made the story of 2016 about ourselves. Narcissistic self-immolation is the ideal form of suicide for an industry distrusted by the public but thirsty for post-election content.“
Looking ahead, here are 86 good deep dives from people — some journalists, some not — that I’ve collected over the past month. The topic: What’s been done, and what journalists can (or should) do next.