After last week’s eulogy to the freedom of the Internet and its capacity for anarchy and the puncturing of pomposity (and notwithstanding its propensity for the exposure of lies and tyrannical behaviour of all sorts, its soap box for the disenfranchised, the successful tilting at windmills – for example yesterday’s culmination to the campaign by Greenpeace against the Lego/Shell tie-up – there is another side to the picture. There is always another side of course. There is the dark net, the shrouded world where, we are informed, terrorists, gangsters, sexual predators and the like roam. But in the broad daylight of the everyday, publicly-lit platform for views, comments and opinions, one can find degrees of behaviour that defy one’s instincts for the virtual good of the medium. ‘Trolling’ is central to this disheartening statement on human potential. The other day a woman committed suicide after trolling the mourning McCanns. Her village friends said afterwards she was a wonderful friend and a pillar of the community. She had been outed by a reporter for her bizarre on-line vitriol, accusing the McCanns of murdering their own child. Teenagers have committed suicide all too frequently as a result of trolling from school peers. And at the back of the Internet, where human ants write codes, engineer platforms, create the virtual habitats that we can enter at home, misogyny and sexual harassment rule. It is as though the Internet is sand and people put their heads in it and fantasise, imagining that no-one can see them as the authors, that the medium guarantees anonymity. In today’s Guardian on-line there is an insightful article:

with the premise that it is mostly men who behave appallingly and that they are so enamoured with their beliefs in the ‘heroes’ of the medium that they refuse to accept any contrary view – resulting in the forms of misogyny mentioned above. If you are fans of Richard Dawkins and Julian Assange, read it to test your credulity.


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