It’s taken a while for this prophecy to come true, a while for this mode of communication to replace and degrade political conversation, to drive out any ambiguity. Or departure from the binary. But it slowly is turning us into a nation of hate-filled trolls.
Surprisingly, [Jaron] Lanier tells me it first came to him when he recognized his own inner troll—for instance, when he’d find himself shamefully taking pleasure when someone he knew got attacked online. “I definitely noticed it happening to me,” he recalled. “We’re not as different from one another as we’d like to imagine. So when we look at this pathetic guy in Texas who was just outed as ‘Violentacrez’…I don’t know if you followed it?”
“I did.” “Violentacrez” was the screen name of a notorious troll on the popular site Reddit. He was known for posting “images of scantily clad underage girls…[and] an unending fountain of racism, porn, gore” and more, according to the Gawker.com reporter who exposed his real name, shaming him and evoking consternation among some Reddit users who felt that this use of anonymity was inseparable from freedom of speech somehow.
“So it turns out Violencacrez is this guy with a disabled wife who’s middle-aged and he’s kind of a Walter Mitty—someone who wants to be significant, wants some bit of Nietzschean spark to his life.”
Only Lanier would attribute Nietzschean longing to Violentacrez. “And he’s not that different from any of us. The difference is that he’s scared and possibly hurt a lot of people.” - Continue reading at Smithsonian.com.