Monday, 29 July 2013

The self absorbed troll

Having looked with disgust and disbelief at some of the tweets aimed at Caroline Criado-Perez, and also read some of the commentary, I wonder if there is one aspect of this that has not been considered.

Much attention has been given to the questions of why any man should think it acceptable to tweet such offensive threats to a woman, and what that tells us about them and their views on women.

Emma Barnett has even managed to speak to a couple of trolls on her radio programme. Whilst their comments are interesting, in a sad kind of way, I think interviews such as this do not really advance our understanding. People justifying their actions are not necessarily telling the truth about their motivations; and indeed, they may not even be aware of them.

I find it hard to imagine the mentality that leads anyone to write such things, but I do think I have one insight to offer. It is this. 

In many cases, I do not think that the intended audience for such trolls is the individual they target. She is just an excuse. What they are doing, it seems to me, is showing off. They want their mates, and the twitter world in general, to see them as big, bad, brave lads. 

The target of their abuse will feel it extremely personally, but I suspect that dimension is opaque to the trolls.  They may be so self-absorbed that they simply do not consider the impact of their behaviour.

Let me be quite clear: I am not in any sense condoning the evil of their actions, nor diminishing the reality of the suffering of their target. But I do think striving to understand what is going on may help us to work out the best response.

1 comment:

PseudonymousposterJohn said...

The obvious rejoinder of which I was not aware until last night would probably be that some ‘famous’ ‘feminist’ women have done as bad or worse.
I was listening to Toby Young, of all people, on bbc Newsnight last night.
He stated that Caitlyn Moran, a journalist who works for the Murdoch paper The News of the Times – and is still the oldest working teenage prodigy in the business- has tweeted that she would like personally to castrate some man she was having a public over-the-internet argument with. (I should say she lost).
Rape is a crime which many people, men and women, the world over have to live with and get over. Castration is I donot think even arguably, a worse crime, as it involves maiming the body permanently.
Saying that is the announcement of the intention to commit a crime.
So, what is the difference?
Young concluded that you get away with it if you are famous.