Lent- Day 6: For all are trolls.

explore landing trolls

The gang from “Trolls”, from the Dreamworks site.


Admit it: At one point or another, you have probably said something unpleasant online that you later regretted—and that you wouldn’t have said in person. It might have seemed justified, but to someone else, it probably felt inappropriate, egregious or like a personal attack.

In other words, you were a troll.


So says Christopher Mims, writing at The Wall Street Journal. Funny how I never viewed myself as being an Internet troll, but under the above description, yeah, I guess I’ve done some trolling over the years. More:


New research by computer scientists from Stanford and Cornell universities suggests this sort of thing—a generally reasonable person writing a post or leaving a comment that includes an attack or even outright harassment—happens all the time. The most likely time for people to turn into trolls? Sunday and Monday nights, from 10 p.m. to 3 a.m.


Sunday nights, too, eh? So all of us good Christians pretty much go from “Praise the Lord!” to “Piss off!” in twelve hours flat? Ha. More:


Countless media sites have turned off comments rather than attempt to tame the unruly mob weighing in below articles. Others have invested heavily in moderation, and are now adopting tools like algorithmic filtering from Jigsaw, a division of Google parent Alphabet Inc. , which uses artificial intelligence to determine how toxic comments are. YouTube and Instagram both have similar filtering. (Snapchat is, arguably, built around never letting trolls see or give feedback on your posts in the first place.)

Then there’s the one real public commons left on the internet—Twitter, which is in a pitched battle with trolls that, on most days, the company appears to be losing.

But if the systems we use are encouraging us to be nasty, how far can developers go to reverse the trend? Can we ever achieve the giant, raucous but ultimately civil public square that was the promise of the early internet?
“It’s tempting to believe that all the problems online are due to someone else, some really sociopathic person,” says Michael Bernstein, an expert in human-computer interaction at Stanford University, and one of four collaborators on the research. “Actually, we all have to own up to this.”


Yes, Friends, it’s time we admitted it: we can be real buttholes online. And off. Pretty much all the time. It’s the feature of humanity that is also a bug. Ecclesiastes 7:20 says “Indeed, there is not a righteous man on earth who continually does good and who never sins.” That oft-quoted verse Romans 3:23 says it this way: “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” Want to avoid an occasion of sin? Be aware of trigger topics (like for almost everyone for the past few months, politics), and maybe even try logging off for a bit. I’ve personally been limiting my time on Facebook and honestly feel a lot less angry. If I’ve got to be a Troll, best to be Poppy.


Share your thoughts