I had been thinking about this topic for the last couple of days. I first thought about posting it to alt.lifestyle.furry where it would have no doubt gotten flamed, or on the LJ Homestead community where everyone there would know exactly what I was talking about. But I decided WTH, I'll post it in my usual place because I'm sure others have experienced the phenomenon known as trolling. Why I thought about this now is that a few of my friends that still post to a.l.f. have been trolled as of late and it makes me sad to see such good fursons having to experience such garbage.
I joined a.l.f. in Nov of 2002. I enjoyed the group immensely for many months and made many dear and wonderful friends. There were 2 individuals that were the resident trolls. It seemed like they just had to comment on every single post. If they did start a post, it was usually off topic and political. I soon figured out how to play their game and usually laughed them off with some self-deprecating comment. When the behavior finally escalated to spoofing my id, I decided to leave. I had discovered LJ by that time and realized I didn't need that newsgroup garbage anymore. I felt bad, however, that new furs looking for an outlet or for friendship as I had been, would find a group pretty much dead except for the trolls gnawing on bones under the bridge.
The thing that confused me the most was what was the motivation behind these people who were trolls? What sort of person would sit at their computer for hours a day just to write negative comments? And this had been going on for years! If you truly were furry, why were you questioning and deriding other furs. And if you were not furry, why would you spend so much of your time pre-occupied with furry? You would expect that type of immature behavior from teenagers who are so unsure of themselves that they must put everyone else down to feel good about themselves.
The other point I don't understand is how the rest of the group just sort of yawned and let the behavior continue. Yes, I know that that's exactly what they want, to start flamewars, but when someone is attacked or put down, there is no response to take them to task for being out of line. The trolls' usual response was, "If you don't like my stuff, then killfile it!" I guess I would ask why submit something derogatory in the first place? Do you have no manners or tact? Just because I ignore you throwing sand in the sandbox doesn't mean your behavior is acceptable. And I don't buy the argument that if you post something you are immediately fair game for any type of attack. I guess there are no people with emotions behind the words.
I went through a period a while back where I had nothing but pity for the trolls. I really wanted to know what their lives were like in real life. Judging from the volume of posts, it was obvious that a great deal of time was spent reading and writing comments. But of course if you brought that to their attention you were called lame for the "get a life" argument. I really couldn't see how someone could have relationships with other people if their online life in any way reflected their real life. There were also hints of such social ineptitude. There was a disdain for any type of chat client. Of course! You have to interact with another person, something you are incapable of doing. You also hated LJ. Sure, who the hell would want to read about your negative exploits.
Anyway, I just wanted to rant a bit because I really hate to see good friends put down and to watch a part of my furriness go down in flames. I know change must happen. I'm glad I found a new outlet in LJ, and I am thankful for the friends I have found here.