According to experts who can nearly speak English, some internet users can apparently not distinguish between "legitimate authority" and "illegitimate authority". They are simply "anti-authority". And therefore fail to realise that co-relation between "authority and likeability" does not imply that people necessarily assume "authority" because of "likeability".
Whatever that means.
Let's take a stab at interpreting it.
What is 'legitimate authority' on messageboards? Surely, the company or person who owns the website and sets the guidelines for use? Then what is 'illegitimate authority'? And why is there a problem recognising it when the only form of authority which counts is the legitimate kind?
As for likeability, while this may be important to those who have no real friends, or are confined by their careers to strictly regimented forms of social interaction, it is as illusory online as it is in any other form of expression.
'Likeability' also only has any relevance in a social context. And the concept of the online 'community' is equally flawed. It is true that the internet is the ideal medium for co-ordinating lobby groups and other caucuses for action or support, but the attempts to create pals' groups on messageboards invariably create inward looking, exclusive, self-congratulating cliques. The general pattern is for these kinds of groups to cluster around self-selected 'monitors' who take it upon themselves to assess the behaviour and deportment of every poster on their patch, on the look-out for 'trolls' and 'ments' and the other assorted mythological creatures invented to keep the children frightened and huddled round the camp fire for safety.
The new vocabulary of abuse is fascinating in this respect. The 'troll', once labelled, is always labelled. And with no comeback because the accusation is impossible to defend - unless the accusers are prepared to quote and address the offending text, which they never, ever are. This definitely undercuts their grandiose pretensions to professionalism somewhat, calling to mind a bunch of frustrated hacks, browbeaten by their bosses and destined to tell lies for a living until they draw their pensions.
The troll of fairytales lived under bridges and prevented travel by frightening the unwary. In reality, there are no bridges in the internet. No rivers blocking the path to dialogue. In the messageboard fairytale, the trolls are perched on stepladders in Milton Keynes central carpark, probably carrying a placard warning against the lascivious effects of meat and protein on the endocrine system and nerves. Anyone wasting their time with them does it because they want to, and therefore live a life which has no other form of stimulation, which is sadder than bingo.
In truth, the word 'troll' is totally meaningless, and its use is a sign of a poster in flight from thought. Of someone trying to become less conscious. Of someone unable to deal with the difficulties of difference other than by compartmentalisation and sectarianism. Of someone seeking to limit the amont of communication created by the internet - most powerful communication tool of all. In fact, as with other forms of sectarianism and paranoia, there are no trolls, only children afraid of bridges.
Now I know what "cannot distinguish between legitimate authority and illegitimate authority" means! Do as you're told and be like us or get out! A representative messageboard thug might be overheard grunting to another messageboard thug:
StueyxWho'd have thought it outside the Taliban and the Mafia? And from people pretending to be hotshot information 'professionals' who do nothing but post insults on websites all day. Even writers, who really should know better than to pervert both truth and their minds in this way. But then, the self-proclaimed british intelligentsia were always their own worst enemy, and as authoritarian as any commune or anarchist sect. Here's another one from a paranoid pile of puke on the Guardian entitled: "How Do You Deal With Trolls and Idiots Online?" Note the heavy emphasis on restriction of the freedom of speech. I have to translate again, because the Guardian refuses to allow me to quote GUT here, which is strange - or maybe not:
" Fuck 'em. They don't like it they can fuck off - or be like us. After all, it's not as if we can get our hands on them and give them the kicking they deserve for not being like us."
Lawlsie - 06:40pm Mar 11, 2008 GMT (#587 of 608)
'He is a saboteur. His words have the power to cause other posters to stop writing, and their brains to stop working.However, I have to risk a lawsuit and post this priceless piece of pomposity:
I'd ban whoever I didn't approve of and who I couldn't better in argument or couldn't understand. When messageboards were run by mob rule, we could control exactly who was let in and who wasn't. We never had these problems then. People knew their place.
Sadly, the internet is not like that anymore. Anyone can join . The only answer is to make it too expensive for any but a like-minded minority, and then we could talk amongst ourselves to our hearts' content, and never hear another opinion but ours."
"We are all of us much better than this and much better than any troll."
You can just smell the self-pity and fear.
And still the carnival of idiocy goes on.
"Nothing is any good unless it makes money for someone else."
That is, the current theory that only paid writing matters. That money infallibly directs langauge towards truth and integrity of purpose. That nothing written by amateurs can be anything more than 'vanity publishing'. A theory which ignores completely the fact that the history of the media is almost exclusively one of highly sponsored lies - until very recently.
The pamphlets of the Chartists', trades unions and Suffragettes didn't attract any serious money, and certainly didn't make any. They cost money to produce. Market forces and the profit motive were objective opponents of these exampls of freedom literature as they always are. It is interesting that the liberal pretend-intelligentsia of today are less tolerant than Mao-Tse Tung, when he declared 'Let a thousand flowers bloom'. Their attitude, as expressed on GUT, is to smother all expression at birth by demanding it makes a profit in order to be taken seriously. The market fundamentalists are put in the same dilemma by the new universal freedom from capital restrictions on expression as the religious fundamentalists were when their dogma and certainties were painted into a corner by secularism. The question is, will they go as far to defend their paranoia? Apparently, total censorship is on the cards, as is making internet access too expensive for anyone except the chosen few. So how far will short of actual violence will their paranoia take them? As we've seen from the so-called 'Stueyx', some of the lesser breeds without the law relish the prospect, and deeply resent the new global freedom of speech given to everyone with a broadband connection. The only conceivable reason for this jealousy is that has exposed the poverty of their ideology and imagination. And as they are unable to play the game, no-one else should.
The old and trusted phrase to describe such churls is still the best. Dogs In The Manger, who are only capable of yapping responses such as:
SidewaysCork - 03:05pm Jul 14, 2008 GMT (#985 of 1017)
Fuck off and start your own board you tedious cunt.
Which is the messageboard equivalent of the McCarthyite sneer: 'Go back to Russia.'
Since the initial posting, the threads which are linked to have been deleted by The Guardian, which is a shame. No doubt the perpetrators of the Taliban sentiments can be persuded to repeat themselves. If so, they will be quoted verbatim, and damn the GUT and its proprietorial claims on the madness of its posters. Likewise with lies published on GUT messageboards. Or 'Malicious Falsehoods' as the Guardian has recently come to know them.