My good friend Professor Elemental is crowdfunding to produce a music video with an anti-bullying making the world a better place sort of message. Truth be told ‘crowdfunded’ is more accurate – the money needed is raised, but there’s some days to go, and all the extra cash that the project delivers is going to three awesome charities helping young people. If you want to be part of the splendidness, hop over to https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/don-t-feed-the-trolls-the-music-video
The startling chap on the left (for those of you who can see him) was created by my other half, Tom Brown, and is a poster exclusively available via Don’t Feed the Trolls. He may remind you of someone. Of course all resemblance to any Prime Minister, living or dead is wholly coincidental, but there’s a political point to make here. This is how we see internet bullying – it’s poor, overweight, ugly and probably still living with its mum. We’re used to looking for bullying when it shows up like this, and we find it harder to spot when it’s got a suit and a PR department. Put this troll in a suit and you’d be more likely to accept what he says as reasonable. Even as he eats you.
Take the troll out of the suit, and he looks like something else entirely. We’re surprisingly susceptible to the messages encoded in costumes. Power and money do not equate to the right to bully others. However, when bullying tactics are an integral part of the political scene, and are offered on TV under the guise of ‘entertainment’ it’s little wonder so many people get online and do all the same things, and feel entitled to name call, abuse, denigrate and threaten.
Not feeding the trolls is not just about avoiding the sad souls online who spit poison. It’s about taking a long, hard look at the culture we’re helping co-create, and the far nastier and more subtle trolls we’ve allowed to grab positions of power.