Monday, February 23, 2009

Ignorance is not Bliss ...

... it is tragedy waiting to happen ...

On a blog I sometimes visit, there is a kid who shows up now and then to lecture us on various topics. He believes he is an expert on many matters, among them racism, sexism, what constitutes good movies, and the like.

You know, just like the rest of us.

Usually I cut people who are young and know-it-all some slack, having been on that road myself. If nobody kills them, they might outgrow it and actually go on to learn about the world.

However, now and then when he says something egregiously stupid, the urge to slap him silly grabs me, and I do it. I have to confess, it doesn't make me feel much better -- it's like shooting fish in a barrel, not much of a challenge. It would be smarter for me to just ignore his postings and leave him shrouded. Best reward for such folks is to let them stew in their own juice.

It's not just the ignorance, which, after all, is curable, we all have some of that; it's the blindness. During an argument, this kid once allowed as how he had banged more women than all the other guys in the thread had combined -- high, wide, repeatedly; here, there, and in public everywhere ... and yet, he absolutely could not see how that disqualified him for being the Defender of Women's Virtue in any way, shape, or form.

He starts his tirades on racism by saying things like "You white guys ..." or his rants on sex in the cinema by claiming to be standing up for "our women." And he doesn't see how these kill any point he might try to make about racism or sexism ...

Kid's head was any emptier, it would whistle in a mild breeze louder than an empty Coke bottle stuck out the window of a car doing eighty.

God must love fools, given how many of them He made ...


Master Plan said...

I know of whom you speak and honestly I have trouble believing he is not a troll. A really pretty effective troll at that.

Indeed, you are familiar with his posting patterns, personality, etc, and still have the urge to slap him. That's the classic identifier of a troll at their work.

I tend to think, here on the int4rw3bz, that trolls, or the legitimately provocative ignorant jerks, are not actually worthy of a legit response. What, I think, they are worthy of is....counter-trolling.

The individual in question seems aware of this and his trolls are phrased such that many counter-trolling behaviors are going to be limited by the same frames of politeness he is violating. That is, he is rude in ways that prevent being rude and stupid in the same way in return. This is another classic hallmark of a skilled troll.

I think your example of talking about how many chicks he's done (or "bitches" he banged, or whatever) and then pretending confusion as to why this might work against him in making a stand as a defender of women is a pretty good illustration of this.

Is he really this confused? Or is he just fucking with you in an artful way?

Perhaps this is not true, but I've read a number of his posts and counter-responses and he seems far too game and willing to continue things for me to buy that he is not at least enjoying getting a rise out of folks....and THAT is what makes a troll a troll.

Not engaging in legit expression or debate but instead enjoying the certain knowledge that he's really pissing people off. And then hiding behind a variety of blinds to pretend that is anything but the agenda.

In short I think he's far too good at making you want to slap him to be doing it by accident. Pretending that he is not engaged in that behavior only confirms this belief of mine.
Further pretending that *"This is who I really am!"* only increases my conviction.

He is pretty good at it tho, innit he? ;-)

Dan Moran said...

I don't think he's a troll, I think he's just dumb.

Almost all real trolls have difficulty avoiding the moment where they show they're aware of the impact they're having. Our boy lacks that.

Real stupidity is really hard to fake.

Anonymous said...

I don't know, he seems to believe his own bull$%#$ and be pretty smug about it too. Reason seems to have little impact on him. Can one be a sincere Troll? Maybe a self-worshipping troll cult of one? He is pretty annoying.


Bobbe Edmonds said...

Whenever you use the word "kid", I always analyze the post to see if it's a back of hand reference to me. Since I never use the word "bitches" to describe women, I guess it's not this time.

Viro said...

Penny Arcade had a post on this type of behavior. It's "John Gabriel's Greater Internet F***wad Theory."

Link contains ever-so-naughty language:

Kai Jones said...

A big clue that he's a troll? You're talking about him instead of his arguments.

Master Plan said...

Dan, that's pretty much exactly why I think he's a *good* troll.

I don't think he can be both as articulate and as oblivious as he is.

Langdon, yes, a sincere troll is quite possible, they are some of the most effective.

Trolls want attention and a emotional response, dude in question gets both of those pretty consistently and yet doesn't add anything to the discussion.

Thus...ignore him entirely, or counter-troll (which is more fun but not *at all* PC when done correctly (an example would be calling him a dirty ignorant n*gg*r (not because it's true, nor because a person so posting actually agrees with said sentiment, but just because that's how counter-trolling works, you "go there" faster and harder than they do, push their buttons, get them riled up, and then laugh all the way to the karmic piggy-bank)).

It has the downside of violating the classic four-color comic book morality code (lowering yourself to their level and thus being no better than they are) of course and is in no way a honest form of debate, so you lose the moral high ground, but you also get to give them a taste of their own medicine and see if you get a response. And then of course if you enjoy having so tweaked their nose you can then feel guilty about behaving in such a way. ;-)

Probably better to just ignore him\trolls in general in the end, but fighting dirty can be it's own kind of thrill. ;-D

Master Plan said...

Ah, I see Worg has engaged already. ;-)

Steve Perry said...

Whether the kid -- with a small "k," so you know it's not Bobbe -- is a troll or not depends on how you define it. I'm with Dan on this one. I think he is so full of the arrogance of youth he really doesn't see how dopey his arguments are.

If he were as good as you think, he'd be better at it, and if you go look at his site, you can see he is a street kid working really hard to show how smart he is.

I know it's better not to feed trolls, and I'd pretty much stopped responding to this young fool, but now and then, you want to grab one of these pups by the scruff and hold him up to the light so everybody can get a better look.

Worg said...

This guy is at least a little bit nutty.

He's highly invested in other peoples' opinions of him as an intellectual.

Let me just say that I am a past master at the art of trolling. I don't do it to people I like because I know how devastating it can be. You can really get people going.

Steve, your reaction is the payload of trolling. He can't damage you, but if you let him, he can make you behave in a way that will cause you to damage yourself.

He's probably not aware of that depth of the dynamic.

The captcha for this post is "typersit." I think some percentage of these captchas are intentionally derisive against people who comment a lot...

Steve Perry said...

Understand, I'm not losing sleep over this. And the owner of the blog has a kinder outlook than I -- we have discussed the situation. From time to time, I just like to point out some kinds of folly when I see 'em, and the know-it-all-ignoramus-kid just happens to be one. Might be that some folks can learn a lesson from the example, and I'm all about passing on whatever I can -- one hand up, one down, as above, so below ...

Worg said...

I used to have a couple of students.

They were kids, around 18-21.

I got tired of arguments allowing as how aikido is better than kali, and how my martial arts are just fighting, they aren't real martial arts because what I do involves attempting to injure the violent, enraged, drug-crazed assailant.

Boy, that frosts me. I learned to just let it go though. They just have no frame of reference to understand from-- they aren't experienced enough.