I got concern-trolled on my Jesus juke blog post yesterday by an anonymous commenter who called him/herself a “concerned parishioner.” I think the intent was to make me think it was someone from my church, but people from my church know that I solicit and actually treasure their constructive criticism. I can sometimes be a pretty sarcastic, cynical person, but this person’s sarcasm was dripping like a Niagara Falls of vinegar. And what made me sad was to think of how ineffective this “concerned” parishioner’s communication was and how foolish I must have looked when I have been crazed in a similar way at what I perceived to be the astounding arrogance of other people (whose hearts I did not know).
Yesterday I experienced a new first: the first time somebody has made up an email address for the purpose of dissing me. Some guy wrote to tell me that my music sucked under the email address firstname.lastname@example.org. His comment started off with those two words “Just stop!” There was something pathetic about the thought of someone going to all that trouble to insult me. It exuded a pathology endemic to postmodernity: getting off on the brilliance of your sarcasm.
Christian Piatt recently posted on Red Letter Christians about the problem of “trolls” in the Christian blogosphere. For those of you who are unfamiliar, “troll” is a term that’s used for people who enter into Internet discussions for the purpose of heckling and sabotage rather than genuine dialogue. As you might imagine, calling someone out as a troll is a very subjective assessment that is often unfairly deployed.
Sometimes people are wrongly accused of being trolls but other times people have every intention of being trolls. Continue reading