I was talking with a friend the other day, and something smacked me in the face that, in some ways, caught me off guard. (And no, it wasn’t anything rude – mores the pity).

She said that comments were being made about her through social media by an ex who was, by all account, saying things that were untrue and generally being a nasty piece of work (that was me being polite). However, it got me thinking about why someone, anyone, would say such things when they hadn’t be hurt or attacked, and I doubt very much that they would repeat the comments in the “real world”.

Every day, both via that lovely medium of social media, and in the real world we say things that, quite often, we don’t actually mean or truly understand what they mean.

In the online world (or t’intenet as I call it) for example, “trolls” stalk the social media lands, looking for innocent (or not so) recipients to throw flippant comments at. Why would anyone do that? In the real world you don’t do that. (Or maybe that’s a sport I didn’t do when I skipped sports at school?). Anyone deliberately looking for someone to hurl abuse at would, (I hope) quickly find themselves in trouble with either the police or decent human beings. But online, that doesn’t seem to happen. People of all walks of life seem to produce comments and statements that they often don’t truly understand or even acknowledge the impact of.

Remember when Justin Bieber was being a little princess (I would say that to his face) and all of a sudden death threats were being posted online and all sorts of really nasty comments. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not his biggest fan, but really? Death threats? He’s a pop star not a mass murderer or war criminal… and besides, if he dies that hot body dies with him (my mind wonders far too much).

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Is “trolling”, as its known, something new? Or is this just another way for people to make themselves seem big, make big statements then walk away from their responsibilities as if it means nothing. In the real world we see this sort of thing it all the time. Parents abandoning kids; drivers leaving the scene of a car accident; teenagers not admitting to smoking to their parents when they stink of it; dating someone and dropping them via text, the list goes on and on.

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If you’re a teenager and rebelling against your mum for smoking then stand up and be counted. Yeah I smoked, yeah it was horrible, no I won’t be doing it again. I did it with my parents, got shouted at but got respected for taking ownership of my “behaviour” and choices. Just as today, If I do something wrong I’ll say that I have. Just as if I make a decision, I won’t hide from it; I’ll stand up and be counted for it. But then, I’m always being told that I’m a little bit weird
In the gay community especially trolls will sit online in the chat rooms and spout their poison for any and all reasons that happen to come up that day. I remember being on one particular chat room and watching a “troll fight” unravel on my screen between 2 ‘users’ that by all accounts should have better things to do with their time. To this day I have no idea what started the ‘fight’ and I don’t think even they know. Again, would they do it in real life? Maybe they would, I’ve seen a fair few ‘cat fights’ start in exactly that way.

But what would happen if we all really did understand and truly mean what we say and do? What would the world be like if every word or action produced by us was meant to be and understood by us? Would the world be a better place? Would trolling still go on online? Or would any form of online trolling simply be seen as the effect of being annoying or controversial? Defending as opposed to attacking.

Or would the world just be filled with walking dictionaries where everything is “acceptable in accordance with an agreed parameter” and everyone simply didn’t say anything to each other as it’s much simpler to just keep shtum. Or would it be the nicer place that we all aspire for? Would arguments about gay rights actually have counter arguments that state the truth and not some deep repressed fear or misunderstanding? Would dating on the scene actually go back to the good old days of dating when a date was exactly that, and not a “let’s be Bfs right away” which it seems to be at the moment.

Who knows, I suspect that if we want the ability to say what we want, when we want it and to whomever we want we have to take the bad with the good. And again, if we want to be “free” people then we have to allow the people to say what they feel, not what they mean.

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