When does arguing become trolling?

Started by Killing Time, January 8, 2014, 05:44:49 PM

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Quote from: Killing Time on January  9, 2014, 12:29:44 PM
Regardless of whether people like it, debate is an essential part of the functioning of society, and if flawed views are perpetually unchallenged then the fabric of society will suffer as a result.
Unfortunately, if we all live by the maxim that we will refuse to have a battle of wits with an unarmed person then a lot of witless people will spread a dangerous level of dim-wittery.

I agree with the first sentence, and sort of agree with the second, although I'd have put it somewhat differently, in that it's not going to help to say that people are lacking the necessary wits.  Quite often they are, assuming they're willing to learn or to be educated about something which they don't know much about.  You only need read certain sources to see how elements of the media and politicians play on the ignorance of elements of the general public, in order to make something seem more of a problem than it actually is ;).

Quote from: Killing Time on January  9, 2014, 12:47:02 PM
We'll have to agree to disagree on that.
If I post a link to an article on facebook it's because I think it might interest people and I'd be keen to hear their views on it.
I simply don't see the point of having comments enabled if you don't expect people to use them.

This comes down to expectations.  What you've outlined here is what you think Facebook should be used for, and how you think it should be used.  There's nothing wrong with that view.  What you're not taking into account, however, is that a lot of other people may not see it that way :).
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Killing Time

Oh, I know.
I wasn't trying to say how people should or shouldn't use their feeds, just how I expected people to treat mine.
Sorry, I wasn't clear.

Also, I realise that there are ways and ways of educating people, and I'm not (so) arrogant that I think my way is the best (or even that my views are always 100% infallible..  ;) ).
I'm just feeling frustrated that what could have been a perfectly civil and enlightening debate descended into name-calling just because I didn't share someone else's view.


In real life I'm also considered argumentative. People that know me and people that I work with generally accuse me of arguing that black is white. When that happens I generally tell them that as black and white are just arbitrary names that have become custom and practice over the years then black could easily be white as custom and practice is not law. I've also got another one about black and white not being colours. I don't act like this around people that I don't know though unless they present themselves as having a sense of humour as I realise that a lot of people wouldn't appreciate this kind of response.

For instance in real life if knew you, your "I'm neither a sexist nor a racist" remark would be met with "well that's what all sexist/racists would say". I wouldn't do that on here though as it would probably be considered trolling.

I don't have a social media account of any kind for just the very reason you describe. People can post some ridiculous things in public spaces but I sincerely believe, just as Irisado does, all they expect is +1 or "like" responses. I also believe that is all that the majority of them want.

On an animal rescue website that my Wife is a member of a dog owner posted a picture of himself throwing a stick onto a pond that had iced over. You wouldn't believe the amphetamine parrot storm that this resulted in. One member accused the dog owner of animal cruelty and of being an idiot and a moron whilst just about everybody else supported the dog owner. Was the concerned member correct? Maybe, but the language of their argument turned them into a troll.

I find the internet a strange place and by and large it annoys me. LOL & troll are two examples of why. For me LOL stands for loss of land or lots of love but because social media is driven by the younger people a lot traditional values are getting lost. I have known my young Niece to actually "LOL" instead of laugh. Internet values have no place outside of the internet; troll, in its internet guise, is a word that only really has meaning within the internet. Language has a long and meaningful past but the internet is changing that and people are using words that are fairly subjective in their meaning without fully understanding them. Popularity of a word is now overtaking any real value of the word. As an example instead of a troll you could well be considered a griefer.

Long story short, don't confuse real life with the internet. If someone on the internet accuses you of being a troll then, in that particular instance, you are simply because that is the way the internet and the word work.
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Interesting discussion guys.  It may be that these various Internet labels are still evolving their meanings.  With respect to Facebook/twitter, the reason I am on this Forum is because it is moderated (an ongoing topic methinks!!).  If you post on open media sites you immediately attract the interest of special interest groups 'snipers' who are just waiting for the right key-words to emerge for them to get out the verbal weaponry - they are relentless, fanatical and generally cannot be reasoned with.  Killing Time, your Welsh Nationalists likely fall into this category.  I do admire your bravery in sticking to your guns, but please be careful, it is a big dangerous world out there! 


Quote from: Killing Time on January  9, 2014, 11:47:00 AM
Not convinced.
If a friend posts a link on which I comment, and that comment is attacked by different people (mutual friends), surely this doesn't come under that remit at all.
The OP has acquiesced to the debate taking place on their page and the argument is between mutual friends who have just as much "claim" to the space as each other.

The thing is that your reply will invade their feed so they encounter it on their 'turf' so to speak and thus see it as a challenge to their beliefs. Circle-jerking and in the fact that most people are not skilled debaters yet still hold strong beliefs mean that you are always at risk of running into a brick wall when trying to engage in a meaningful discussion on social media. I'm not saying it is pointless and generally these types of echo chambers generate a strong lust for me too to engage and spread some of constructive dissonance but it is behaviour a lot of people find smug, elitist and/or trollish, especially given the sense of "one regular person telling other regular people how it really is" is quite strong on most social media, not the scientific and investigate approach. :(


Argument on an online forum is like going to a gym and challenging someone to a couple of rounds in the boxing ring.

Argument on facebook or other type of social media is like challenging someone to a fight on the street.  They probably don't want it, they aren't necessarily ready for it, and they have no reason to think that Queensbury rules are in play.


This is quite interesting, as I'm currently reading some of Platon's dialogues (or rather, excerpts from them) as part of my curriculum this semester. He differentiates between the polemic stance we often see online (where two or more parties all wish to convince the other party/ies that they're incorrect), and the more dialectic type that Platon wrote in (where two or more parties attempt to earnestly examine a subject together).

I personally prefer to argue either about a) Relatively inconsequential things (like lore and background for fictional universes, etc.), or b) In an environment specifically set aside for earnest, polite and serious debate, which is moderated.

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