Brendan O’Neill has come out against the media reaction to trolling. I’d wondered if this might be a “stopped clock” situation: could it be that for once, Brendan O’Neill actually has a point? Oh course not. He’s a chode that never fails to disappoint (and also weeps, syphilitically, obviously).
The latest dribble to come from his desk is entitled “The hysteria over trolls is a classic moral panic“, which neatly genders the debate right off the bat, because let’s not forget that Brendan O’Neill is a gigantic steaming misogynist. It follows his usual line of argument of fighting with imaginary people out of history. To his credit, this time he is not battling imaginary Victorians, but rather, imaginary people from mere decades ago. They’re still imaginary, and O’Neill’s problem is clearly still blah blah blah political correctness gone mad pearlclutching blah blah don’t call me a rape apologist blah blah why can’t women take it blah blah I am a weeping syphilitic chode.
It’s tedious as all fuck.
Thing is, there is a critique to be made of the sudden media prominence that “trolls on Twitter” are getting. This is hardly a new story, and furthermore hardly an issue with one particular medium or another.
The media being the media, this issue is not being discussed particularly adequately. There is no focus on the root cause of this shit: a general desire from oppressors to put the oppressed in their place. None of this has been tied in to how much such harassment happens in offline spaces. It has just been the most superficial and dull discussion, because ultimately the media doesn’t actually give a quarter of a flying fuck about what marginalised groups face on a daily basis.
So why are they giving this issue any column inches whatsoever? Simply put, it’s silly season. It’s that of the year where government goes on holiday, so the things that the media want to report on are also on holiday. Sometimes a child will go missing, and they can put that on their front pages, but a lot of the time there isn’t even that.
Last year, there was a lion loose in Essex terrorising tourists, which turned out to actually be a large cat. There’s all sorts of inanimate objects which look a bit like Jesus which find themselves with spreads, and arrangements of stars which look like Victor Meldrew which find themselves on the front page of a national newspaper. Simply put, the news industry needs to keep on going, even when there is no news.
This year’s hot topic, then, is trolling, covered with all the nuance and sophistication of those without a semblance of a fucking clue what they’re talking about. Things like Twitter scare the shit out of the traditional media, precisely because suddenly they’re no longer the gatekeepers of communication. And so they instrumentalise women who have received abuse to perpetuate their own agenda of attempting to reinforce their gatekeeping role. I cannot stress this enough: for the most part, the media’s agenda is not social justice, it’s control.
I hope fervently that someone will discover a breadstick that looks like a zebra that will knock all of this uninformed bollocks off of the front pages, because far from letting us have a conversation it is framing the debate into something it is not, and should not be.
Let’s talk about abuse. Let’s talk about misogyny and oppression. But let’s not let hacks and weeping syphilitic chodes be the arbiters of how we have this conversation.