Trolling is a term I had not heard until recently. It’s slang for making a deliberately offensive or provocative online posting with the aim of upsetting someone or eliciting an angry response from them. According to the Urban Dictionary, trolling is typically unleashing one or more cynical or sarcastic remarks on an innocent by-stander, because it’s the internet and, hey, you can. The was a recent incident of trolling at our daughter’s high school. The senior class was organizing a game off campus and created a Facebook group inviting all students interested in participating in the game. However, the exchanges got heated quickly. Apparently the students could not agree upon the rules of the game and the disagreement turned into trolling.
Student 1: You’re all retarded for arguing over stupid **** like this. Welcome to the real world. People have different opinions then others. You can’t bully people for having different opinions. That’s called fascism. If your offended by a word, please kill yourself because your not gonna handle the real world.
Student 2: Here’s the thing, even by simply disregarding the ignorance of your word choice, there are more than a few other issues.
- By playing this game “without the rules,” you forget the issue of harassment, bullying and the ultimate disruption of the lives of our senior class as a whole. How are we meant to be be able to function as a united class if we go about our days in fear of being drenched in water by any number of our peers?
Now let’s remember the derogatory term you believe your freedom of speech grants your right to.
2. You insult the First Amendment by flaunting it. We live in America. Why take your right of speech and use it as a weapon to hurt the feelings of others?
3. This is a game. Why fight over it? We are in the last semester of our time in high school. Why spend it bickering on the basis of something as unimportant as a game?
I am fully aware nothing I say or do may effect your mindset concerning the words you choose to utilize in your everyday life. I simply stand to remind you of the damage you are causing not only to the unit of our class, but to yourself. The bitterness you have unearthed behind the protection of your computer screen you cannot undo. I am not one to promote conflict or fighting. I simply ask that you consider the thoughts and feelings of others with as high regard as you do your freedom of speech.
Student 3: I don’t just believe the First Amendment grants me the right to say what I think it actually DOES. I resent your pseudo-Victorian sensitivity, I don’t give a flying **** about your feelings as a result of my words. If you find it offensive, take it to your therapist. Be bitter all you want. For those of you who want to live in a society where you constantly fear that what you say might hurt somebody’s feelings, go hang out with them. For those of you who still believe in classic liberalism, you know where to find me.
The thread went on and on, but students in the FaceBook group reported it to the group leader and flagged the thread in FaceBook as inappropriate content. The next step students took was to contact administrators and counselors at the school. Trolling can become a serious threat, as it is often a random target and can quickly escalate.