Please, don’t misunderstand me.
I do realize that there are some people who troll online with malicious intent, but not all trolls are inherently evil. Looking at Lifewires 10 Types of Internet Trolls, you can be labeled as a troll for grammar and spellchecking, for being a know-it-all, or even for posting an unrelated topic on an existing topic.
People do troll-like things all the time, but that doesn’t mean they are a troll. Nor does it mean they are intentionally trolling. Trolling can be malicious, but it isn’t always. I believe there are times when trolling can actually be beneficial – it is all relative, it is all a matter of perspective.
A fellow blogger, Chris Martin, gave some of his thoughts on the misuse of Pepe the Frog: a comic book character that is depicted as a pot-smoking frog by the creator, Matt Furie. Chris’ post was very well thought out, well written, and had a lot of good points. But I’m having a hard time with his view on trolls because it feels very… frustrated, I think, would be a good term.
Trolls and non-trolls alike have created various memes of Pepe: some funny, some sad, some angry, and some that are just plain rude or mean. Regardless of how Pepe was used, it is because of people that Pepe the Frog became famous.
Matt Furie chose not to see these people as people, but as trolls. He then decided that to stop trolls from using Pepe, he should remove Pepe from his comic.
That’s his right, and I understand his thought process; however, I believe that Matt Furie accomplished something amazing by creating Pepe: he managed to influence other people – trolls and non-trolls alike – to be involved and active online. Matt was able to create a character that resonated with many different kinds of people in a way that gave them the ability to voice various topics, and in turn allow others to respond.
This is free speech at its strongest, for better or worse. Sometimes it takes something extremely negative to bring people together, both online and offline.
Don’t look at trolls as the Big Bad Wolf. They’re not. They are just people who have a access to the internet, and can say and do things online – the same as you.
Unfortunately, when creating new images and ideas and sharing them on the web, we all need to keep in mind that while our work is protected to some degree, it is available to the World once it is shared thanks to the World being Flat (Thomas L. Friedman) and at the same time Spiky (The Atlantic).