DIGC 202, Media

They see me trollin’

In 1996, John Perry Barlow wrote A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace where he outlined a cyberutopia where they were “creating a world that all may enter without privilege or prejudice accorded by race, economic power, military force, or station of birth” (Barlow 1996). But what he did not see coming, were trolls.

The speech was written for an era where computers and technology were developing rapidly as well as the freedom of the Internet vastly expanding. Previously, new technologies – such as the telegraph – were significantly controlled by state institutions. One can draw interesting parallels between a new technology and the rise in totalitarian states due to the technologies demanding centralised control. However, cyberspace did revolutionise this paradigm. It became a place where individuals could transcend the barriers that were set by state institutions. It was a place of freedom, community and shared experiences.

But this whimsical tale of an entire population coming together to share harmonious stories and find a place of equality was somewhat naïve. The freedom that cyberspace provides have never been seen before enabling trolling. Trolling is where you systematically follow someone and pretty much ‘hate’ on their work or attack the individual for reasons that are seemingly pathetic. Whilst this flaw could have not been avoided nor foreseen in the early stages of the utopian view of what the internet would enable, it is something that dramatically contradicts why cyberspace was created.

Barlow wrote, “We are creating a world where anyone, anywhere may express his or her beliefs, no matter how singular, without fear of being coerced into silence or conformity” (Barlow 1996). To examine this comment from the utopian view of social networking, one can understand that due to the vast size of the Internet, that one can freely and easily express his or her opinions wherever and whenever he or she feels. A broad ocean of communication, understanding, tolerance and education. Conversely, examine this same comment with a dystopian view of cyberspace. Trolls are able to do the exact same thing – expressing opinions and so forth – yet never get caught.

So, if the cyber space truly is how Barlow described as being a place without prejudice against “race, economic power, military force” then why are we still experiencing it? Why are trolls still able to do what they do and get away with it? Maybe, I’m just being negative or maybe we have a serious issue on our hands that needs to be resolved before we move further.




Gorenflo, N 2013, ‘Better than Cyber Utopia: How the Internet Helped Us Create the Sharing Economy’, Yes Magazine, 3 June, viewed 16 August, http://www.yesmagazine.org/new-economy/better-than-cyber-utopia-how-the-internet-helped-us-create-sharing-economy



11 thoughts on “They see me trollin’

  1. Really great post!! Definitely think it’s interesting how the Declaration was pretty much proposing equality and now these days it is the total opposite of what happens on the internet. YouTube comments especially are the main target where people feel comfortable enough to “verbally” abuse other people because of their race, religion, sex, ideas etc. The amount of swearing on YouTube comments is ridiculous and its gotten to the point where I don’t bother reading them as I know they’re just a huge waste of time. It is very rare that you’ll see a positive comment. I hope as time goes on and technology evolves even more, people on the internet will come to realise that everyone is different and no matter how much you swear at someone through your keyboard they ain’t gonna listen! Haha. Rant over.

    Great post though! Keep it up 🙂

  2. Great blog post! I touched on the same topic in mine.
    I find it hard to believe that nobody could forsee that trolling would come as a result of everybody eventualy having access to the internet. Everybody is unique and not everybody can get along.
    It’s unfortunate that the internet is being used in such a way where people “troll” in order to directly hurt others. Unfortunately there is no getting rid of them ever.

    • Thank you!
      I feel that they were using the Internet as a “fix it all” kind of thing. The fact that society could not get along in the real world, how were they supposed to get along in a confined area that was the Internet?
      Thanks for the comment 🙂

  3. You have made some excellent points in relation to the naive assumptions of Barlow and his hope for something that seems so far off from our current state.
    The issue of Trolling vs. Cyber bullying is so prevalent on forums and within social media. The questions you raised in relation to this kept me thinking, especially the issues of accountability and consequence.
    Hyperlinks to problem trolls could have helped to show the severity of the issue and substantiated your argument.
    All in all I enjoyed the post, 10/10 would discuss further.

    • Thank you! I did try and find some links to trolling but was not able to find substantial, current articles or statistics – then again, I probably could have looked a wee bit harder! Then again, there is another post that I did on trolling and attacking women via social media called Female – Not a Dirty Word, if you are interested?

      Thanks for the comment.

  4. Hello,
    Your blog post is really entertaining, especially when you used the term ‘trolling’ to describe the thoughtless comments we see on the Internet. I guess we have indeed took the Internet for granted and a portion of the world population have misused it for God knows what reason/purpose. Reading your post also reminds me of cyberbullying. As Sir Tim Berners-Lee envisioned the World Wide Web to help people work together, we, the Internet users should commit ourselves to a more harmonious cyberspace and not break up the society by spreading hateful ideologies on the Internet.

    • Hello!
      You are exactly right, we should “commit ourselves to a more harmonious cyberspace”. I feel that we truly need to take a step back and appreciate this amazing technology that we do have to communicate around the world across borders and barriers. It needs to be exactly that – without borders and barriers, it needs to revert back to how Barlow envisioned it.
      Thank you for your comment and thoughts, I feel that I could write another post with everyone’s ideas!!
      Enjoy your day! 🙂

  5. Great post and great headline as well. Your post gives a great reflection on the term of trolling and how it has become more apparent in cyberspace. It seems that the more advancement of social media, the people are using the act of trolling as a form of communication to express how they really feel but in a negative way. Although we see it happen, we tend to not do much about it because we think that it’ll just go away whereas instead it has grown bigger. Cyberspace has a become a platform in which negative comments and downgrading of people or objects have become more apparent, by simply the power of a button or sitting behind a keyboard.

    • Whole-heartedly agree with you! I feel that it is similar to global warming and climate change – if we ignore it, it will go away. Why start a conversation? I mean, it will go away right?

      Thanks for your comment!
      Have a good day/night!!

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