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Is trolling part of life?

How far is too far?

troll
photo credit: Genista

There has been a lot of talk lately about a controversial political figure. Everyone is up in arms against her for some pretty stupid reasons, actually, and all day long, I’ve been thinking, “I should say something.” The problem is, everything I want to say is, well, mean. I’m a big jerk at heart, and I’ve got some pretty venomous hackles raised. As soon as I start to think about putting my thoughts out there, I get a subtle reminder from deep in the back of my brain, “Maybe you shouldn’t alienate the world.”

When I was a teenager, I worked at the world’s largest retail store chain. I would take breaks during my shifts, and there would always be the same group of people in the break room, and we formed a little bit of a clique. They knew me well enough to know what to expect when I started talking, and it was nice having some “work buddies.” One of the women in the break room back then worked in the craft department, and she used to make custom buttons for other employees, since we were unofficially required to wear a bit of flair. She made the buttons for each individual person, based on what she thought about them. It was pretty cool. Well, my button has really carried with me for a while, and I’ve taken it to heart for the most part. It was a simple white button with a dancing snoopy imprinted in the background, and the foreground was simply a nice font that read,

“Lord, Please places your arms around me and your hands firmly over my mouth.”

My mouth has gotten me into a lot of trouble over the course of my life. Its big, its loud, and its prone to firing off without much provocation. Really, its only gotten worse as I’ve gotten older, wiser, and more elegant in my vernacular. I’ve even trained under the Queen-Bitch Mother, scalpel tongued master of sarcasm, as well as the dual fingers of doom. I wouldn’t say that I’ve mastered the twin disciplines of wit and sarcasm completely to the level he has, but I’ve definitely made a couple of people cry. (I’ve born witness to his ability to make them question their sanity.) These are not proud moments in my life, exactly, but they are definitely skills that I posses.

I’ve been reading Miyamoto’s [amazon_link id=”1590308913″ target=”_blank” ]A Book of Five Rings[/amazon_link], and thinking a lot about it not just as part of my work to improve myself as a swordsman, but also in life. Miyamoto tells us that we should not neglect any of our tools, as all of them have a function. If one of my tools is inflammatory language, am I remiss to not use it because I’m afraid of alienating people? A year ago, I’d never have worried about that. I’ve come to cherish the friendships that I have been able to retain and develop.

I reel against the infrastructure of America that has developed in the last decade. I hate the people that would take advantage of hate and fear for their own personal gain, the talking heads that make up the modern news entertainment media. If I begin to use their same tactics, if I stoop to their level, am I just adding to the problem? Is there ever really a situation where the ends justify the means? Can I be that Machiavellian?

These are the questions I keep asking myself. I’m not sure if there is a right answer. I’m sure there is a politically correct answer, an answer that the Internet Marketing gurus would give me, an answer that Miss Manners would give me, and an answer that is right for me in there somewhere. I guess it comes down to what our goals are.

Can you rage against the machine without becoming another cog in it?

Published by M.A. Brotherton

M.A. Brotherton is a writer, blogger, artist, and fat-kid from the suburbs of Kansas City, Missouri. He’s tasted a little bit of everything the Midwest has to offer, ranging from meth-tweaking rednecks in massive underground cave complexes to those legendary amber waves of grain. When he’s not writing, he spends most of his time screwing around on the internet.

4 thoughts on “Is trolling part of life?”

  1. Tracy Ann Mangold says:

    This is part of the reason I got out of the news biz. I was a television news producer. But quickly became disenchanted with the push for demographics – and as a fellow newsperson/college classmate said – the proliferation of fear. News is so fake. The public doesn’t always get the most important story – they get what will garner ratings. At the end of the day it’s always about the ratings. So yes, the fear mongering – the spread of it – is sickening. It IS for their own personal gain. I couldn’t stomach it and got out.

    1. M.A. Brotherton says:

      I applaud you for refusing to contribute to the buzzing of useless information. I guess my real question, is do we continue to allow the news media to dominate us with crap like Glenn Beck and Ed Schultz, or do we make a stand, even if making that stand means using their same tactics?

  2. KarenBeth says:

    Shouting and calling names is a competitive sport. Most of the politicians and many in the news media play it and they all want to win. It’s almost irrelevant what the argument is about. They just want to win because winning means reelection and ratings, all of which keeps them in their jobs. The problem is that governing a democratic country requires compromise, civility, and careful thought. Shouting just encourages ignorance and anger, which is ultimately destructive.

    That’s why I listen to NPR and watch PBS. They take the time to fully explain things from many angles without shouting at anyone. They try very hard to be moderate in their programming, which means they do show the conservative view as well as the liberal view (which may come as a surprise to many conservatives). Granted, it does lean liberal, but it’s not extreme by any means. They’re very careful to be respectful and fair to both sides. No interrupting, shouting, name-calling, etc. And when the conservatives have a good point, they acknowledge it. If either side says something false or exaggerated, though, they’re pretty good about calling them out on it as well.

    It’s difficult to fight loud, angry people by remaining calm and reasonable. They’ll just drown you out. But if you shout back, then you’re playing their game, where volume and outrage beats logic and fact. I don’t know the answer. The right way to behave is to be civil, of course, but the “right” way may not be the “winning” way.

    1. M.A. Brotherton says:

      I agree completely that its not proper behavior, and in a perfect world, civil discourse would be the norm by far. I think that as a rational person, I have to accept the fact that we do not live in the utopia that we all long for, and that what is proper is not actually what our society runs on.

      That leaves me with the moral dilemma of which is the greater sin. As a person who is able to see broader angles, do I maintain composure and decorum as a model for how we should behave, or do I stoop to the level of our modern media for the chance to actually influence and encourage social change.

      I think that I, and every other US Citizen, has an obligation to our founding fathers to do what we must to assure the continued Freedom and Equality of all people living inside or borders. If the rules of our country define the winner as the one with the loudest voice, isn’t it my duty to ensure that the loudest voice is also the one that’s best for the nation?

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