The internet is often thought of as a space where any one is free to speak, post, and comment on news and writing and posts. In this light, the internet is a place that can foster honest and open discussion about important issues in society and specific communities. However, our discussion about trolls and griefers in class made me think about the times and places when this optimistic understanding is not representative of all internet spaces. Sometimes trolling and griefing is praised on the internet (See this list of “Funniest Gaming Trolls on Youtube”) and justified by the fact that they are looking for entertainment and are pursuing it in a harmless way. However, I would argue that griefing and trolling in environments other than gaming, such as comment sections and help forums, becomes a method of inciting arguments and being overall detrimental to the production of honest discussion about a topic.
The proof of this can be seen in the comment sections of almost any article available on the internet. Undoubtedly, there will be a comment or a multitude of comments made with the implicit or explicit intention of pissing someone off or starting an intense argument between users about an issue. These types of exchanges make using the comment section of a page or article as a means of generating and participating in meaningful discussion next to impossible. People who obviously troll locations of productive discussion on the internet hinder the goals and visions of those places of discussion. However, it is also important to ask: where do we draw the line between someone who posts an unpopular opinion and an internet troll? In order to maintain the internet as a place with the potential for such discussions to occur, there must be a place for the unpopular opinion so that issues are discussed from all perspectives. This necessity must be juggled and balanced with the need to keep trolls from disrupting the productive discussion that is occurring.