Online Abuse & Trolling – An Opinion Piece

Every so often the subject of internet abuse comes up here at Louder Than War towers as occasionally we get doofus’s dropping nasty, vile comments at the end of pieces our contributors have spent hours writing. Nick Wood has recently been the victim of virtual abuse (albeit not on these pages) & here are his thoughts on the matter.

A few weeks ago we had a bit of a clear out. Small house, tons of records and cd’s etc. mean we have one every now and then. One item we put on Ebay was a remote control for my old Marantz amp, which had expired months previously. Someone bought it for a tenner and we gaily skipped to the post office to send it off to Swindon.

A few days later, the good lady came into the kitchen looking quite upset. A message had come from the buyer of the 10.00 remote control. The nature of the email was unlike anything I had seen before. The complaint was legit, the new owner could not get the remote to work. The mail however is produced below:

“Well you know that it is broken. I am an electronics engineer you fucking prick, or a fucking bitch. not know who you are. I know one thing. You’re a pain in the ass of English society. You margins. You are the worst. You are a living example of a defect in the English system of values.”

When did hate become necessary for the sake of a tenner? When did people begin to think it’s OK to talk to someone like this? Is it racist? I wouldn’t use someone’s origin as a derogatory term! It’s without doubt offensive. The good lady was quite upset. There is a threatening tone to the message as well.

For a tenner.

Has this become acceptable in day to day life to talk to people like this because you can hide behind the internet. Rarely a tragic death is reported without so called “trolls” leaving unnecessary comments on Facebook pages. People are openly abused on Twitter due to their parents passing away or because of the colour of their skin or the fact they missed a penalty.

Are we really so angry that we just accept this as part of our lives. I hope not. I currently work in the construction industry after 17 years on the railway and I am shocked at how grown people still snigger at “Woofters”. One person had noticed I followed the Pride page on Facebook and thought it was hilarious. Oh Ha ha. It’s 2012 for Christ’s sake.

I’m of the opinion we all need a good kick up the arse to recognize that it’s not on anymore. Music has told us for many years that we are all the same and that prejudices are wrong, and music hasn’t been as popular as it is now since the 70’s, so who acts like this? Pissed students? People like me? People you or I work with?

I’d love for an article like this to make a difference, but if it made one person stop and think about what they’re saying before posting it or messaging it to someone then I feel it would make a difference. Please everyone, BE NICE. We’re not here for long.

All words by Nick Wood. More Louder Than War articles by Nick can be found here.

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  1. a very good piece indeed. It is difficult sometimes to vent one’s spleen without sounding like you are launching an unnecessary, uncalled for, attack on someone. I, like a lot of others who visit this site have strong opinions but it is very important to maintain a sense of perspective when expressing an opinion. Some of the retarded, vile abuse that you see on certain sites, you tube being a prime example only illustrate the fact that the ‘authors’ are totally unintelligent morons who just like to rant and swear for the hell of it. I am all for critical analysis but so much of what you read on the internet these days is anything but that, it is merely brutish, moronic bile spewed forth by people who are basically dumb ass meatheads.

  2. A good read and one that I totally agree with. Funny that the message in question came from Swindon. I live hear and run a small website covering music, both local and national as well as writing a gig guide for the local paper and a couple of other pieces for local magazines. I have recently ceased covering local music issues on my website due to trolling. For years now many of the articles have written, whilst always championing local music have been met with pointless attacks. Admittedly this is from a very small element of the music community but it does get tiresome after a while. Because of this I have moved my focus over to the underground, unsigned and breaking bands on a national and often international level, I guess the “familiarity breeds contempt” element doesn’t follow me out of my home patch and the fact that the bands are probably at a level where they are more serious about get the breaks, they are more appreciative of anything that furthers their cause. One of the problems with the internet is that once you give everyone instant access to the global conversation, a certain element are just happy to try to undermine others efforts and do it very vocally. Freedom of speech is fine as long as people actually have something to say, otherwise it’s just a sort of white noise that detracts from proper communication.

  3. “BE NICE. We’re not here for long.” Absolutely. Excessive opinion ain’t good, excessive negative opinion is terrible.

  4. Good article and timely – it seems this kind of abuse is getting worse. I too am shocked at some comments I see on you tube – racist, homophobic hate-filled drivel mainly – and I suspect this is only scraping the surface – god only knows what’s written on other online forums.. I suppose it’s the perfect platform for sad, cowardly people with no life to speak of. Maybe we should feel sorry for them.

  5. So you sold someone a piece of crap, then became surpised when the buyer got angry? Comparing your story to the trolled family of dead people seems a little crass and your comments probably deserve a bit of trolling.

    • Martin, you are a numptie. The amp had expired well before he sold the remote. No amp, no way of nowing the remote works or not. Polite stands a good chance of your money back from a reasonable person. Abuse? i would ignore them or write back politely telling them they had blown it by their behaviour.

  6. You start your post with an insult and then ignore the overall context of my post using pedanticism, are you sure youre not trolling?

  7. I know it is much easier to say things that I wouldn’t necessarily say to someone directly when posting on the internet. I don’t think of myself as a troll, but I do find myself posting a lot on news stories where conversations have started on facebook or twitter. Can I get rude? Yes, I guess it’s fair to say I can, although generally to those who write the same way to me. I suppose I have desensitized myself a bit to it over the years. I like posting in forums and having good, interesting political debates/discussion/arguments or whatever online. And, I have sent out a few angry emails in my day to people who have really made me angry, and it has gotten me in a spot of trouble in one case. But, I look at the wording of the email posted above, that was sent to Nick, and I think that is pretty harsh and uncalled for, whether the thing he/she bought worked or not. I mean, she/he may have a right to be frustrated, but to out and out attack a person? Nah.

  8. I agree wholeheartedly with your sentiment. Cowardly abuse from the safety of relative anonymity and unaccountability is unacceptable and hurtful.
    I have a tiny grumble though, as a part of the construction industry myself I always find myself challenging peoples perceptions. Yes there are some illeducated, uninformed, people with prejudices in our industry, but I think that is true in all walks of life. However we are uniformly tarred often as sexist, racist, homophobic, beerswilling lowbrow oafs. In my experience most folk in our line of work with skills and a strong work effort are intelligent, enlightened, and thoughtful with an empathy for their fellow man. I know my whinge may seem trivial but I am frequently irked by the popular perception of hardworking problem solvers who work in difficult conditions to provide for their families.
    P.S. I do know you weren’t smearing an entire industry whilst illustrating your point, but there is a massive pre-conception of the construction worker which ceased to be accurate a long time ago.

    • at LTW we certainly don’t look down on anybody- people who read the site are from all walks of life and we write about music from all walks of life…


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