I have blogged about this most of unsavoury subjects in the past, but it seems cyberbullying is reaching pandemic (no pun intended) proportions these days, especially with the advent of Covid-19, bushfires, floods, other global warming events, corrupt politicians who want to go on killing koalas--and the environment in general--all in favour of the mighty dollar, and so on.
Nerves are frayed and emotions run high, and frankly I don't blame people for being oversensitive about everything in their lives right now including what happens on social media. Billions of people are venting their frustrations, fears, and anger on other nations, governments, institutions, the self-serving rich and powerful, and (unfortunately) on each other.
Most of us follow social etiquette in real life if we want to fit in with the culture in our environment, but there are those who turn into monsters when it comes to dealing with people on social media. These sick, cowardly, and pathetic individuals have a tendency to select a small fragment of information that someone may have posted online and they use social media to really let it rip, no matter what the context of the actual post is about.
I could understand if these people were directly provoked and they wanted to somehow defend themselves (although insulting/bullying behaviour never really works), but to tear into someone when there is no real provocation, and especially when people rarely bother to read the entire post and any attached news articles or accompanying information--well, that's another thing entirely.
These individuals merely select a small fragment of what someone has posted and in their ignorance they run off with it and start to troll the author of the post without rhyme or reason (and most important of all without bothering to actually read the entire article, post, or thread so at least they can get the context of the whole post before they make their own inane, insulting, or merely stupid remarks). Sadly, many people think trolls are ferals, but this is not the case. I have personally read trolling comments from doctors, lawyers, and other so-called educated and seemingly civilised people.
I am sure we are all guilty of trolling to some degree by having expressed our anger towards politicians, celebrities, or other powerful entities who are corrupt, milk the poor and needy, or those intent on destroying the environment, etc, etc. And that's human nature, especially when big targets attract huge audiences. But to these individuals infamy can be just as powerful as being famous and as long as the dollars keep rolling in these people shrug off every bit of trolling.
Trolling is a bullying behaviour and it can often have a big impact on ordinary lives--lives that cannot afford to sue people or use the trolling as an excuse for more exposure and build-up to their own fame and power.
So how do you deal with a cyberbully who often chooses to hide behind their computer or Smartphone because they don't have the balls to show you who they really are? This type of entity is the most cowardly bully of all--an individual who hides behind avatars and secrecy for their own ends, mainly to bully or troll others on social media.
Wikipedia defines a troll as a person who sows discord on the Internet by starting arguments or upsetting people by posting inflammatory, extraneous or off-topic messages in an online community with the deliberate intent of provoking readers into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussions.
In my opinion, a troll is a cyberbully without a life of their own. And if you're wondering what a troll looks like, the answer is: like anybody. They come in all shapes and sizes. But I like to think of them as per the pics below:
Why am I re-posting about trolls? Well, it all started with a few tweets I read from actor James Woods. Mr Woods, like many of us, is an interactive and prolific Twitter(er) and he expresses an opinion on many (often inflammatory) topics. Nothing wrong with that, right? I follow his tweets because I'm interested in what he's got to say. He tweets a lot about politics and even though I don't live in the US--hence I don't understand much about American politics--I still have an interest in many of the things Mr Woods has to say.
Unfortunately, my enjoyment of Mr Woods' tweets are usually marred by many cowardly creatures who dedicate their energy to wasting other people's time and enjoyment in using social media.
Let's face it, trolls are tedious, terrible and tormenting creatures with little minds and no imagination who should really get out there and do something constructive with their lives for a change instead of making ours a misery.
My opinions are my own, just as Mr Woods' opinions are his--and you, the reader, also have an opinion that you may wish to express. Now, you may or may not agree with what I say, what Mr Woods says, or what someone else says, but there is absolutely no need to start acting like an exorcist-type entity--and one that often uses words that half the time they cannot even spell.
I quite enjoy the way Mr Woods deals with cyberbullies/trolls--he simply shakes them like water off a duck's back and blocks them with a witty comment and the now very famous hashtag he invented: the #INSTABLOCK.
I have joined endless discussions on Twitter about many topics, like most of us do, but in the years that I've been tweeting I've had the misfortune to come across a number of very ignorant individuals, some of whom have abused me for no good reason. And by the way, trolls should understand that if they tweet or post something on a public forum they should expect other people to interact with their tweets/posts, and not take offense when others hit back. Remember: what's good for the goose is good for the gander.
In conclusion, since these most unfortunate incidents of bullying/trolling have occurred I've taken a page from Mr Woods' effective way of dealing with these trolls and I now use the #INSTABLOCK hashtag to get rid of them when I block them and their rubbishy, bullying comments. I may not use this hashtag for every troll because at times this can be time consuming. Having said this, if you find yourself blocked by an #INSTABLOCK coming from me you may go ahead and feel complimented because the other boring trolls out there simply get blocked from my account without a by-your-leave. My final message to all trolls (cyberbullies) is clearly depicted in the cartoon below.
And on a last note, I'd like to thank Mr Woods for inspiring such a great way to get rid of these "waste of cyberspace" individuals.
Yes! The man from NYC is back for more on Sylvia Says. This is a first for me, hosting a great author twice on my blog. So read on, and I hope you enjoy the interview.
SM: Steven, it's great to have you back on my blog and ready to tell readers about your latest release The Ishi Affair.
SJG: It's great to be back, Sylvia. I'm thrilled to be the only author you've hosted twice on the blog.
SM: What can I say? It's that charm of yours... And the fact I love guys from NYC (blushing). But let's get you talking about your latest novel. This is book 5 of your David Grossman series. Does the new book tell a continuing story?
SJG: Each of the five novels in my David Grossman Series is an independent story. But the books do share a main protagonist, hence the series. For sure, readers who enjoy all the books will appreciate the larger arc of David’s colorful life. The first three novels--Grand View, Forty Years Later, and The Deadline— are told in the first person, so they share the intimate tone of a single narrator. Grossman’s Castle and The Ishi Affair are told in the third-person, so various characters share center-stage with David—though his brash and comic voice is sometimes loudest.
SM: So what compelled you to write this latest novel?
SJG: I’ve always had a deep fear and loathing of bullies. When I was still quite young, I learned that my mother’s family—and other Jews of the Ukraine—had suffered the casual taunts of Jew-haters and, even more, the murderous pogroms that often exterminated entire Jewish villages. My father’s boyhood was spent in Nazi Germany. Most of his extended family was able to leave before Kristallnacht. The ones who stayed behind were killed.
When I was 17, I first learned about Ishi and how his tribe, along with many other Native American tribes, were hunted down and murdered by whites for fun and profit—and that these heinous actions were often sponsored by government fiat. I learned early on that genocide was the most loathsome human expression imaginable. I knew, at 17, I would write about Ishi.
SM: Genocide is indeed one of the most loathsome human expressions imaginable. Nowadays I'd have to say I put it right up there with terrorist acts. But back to Ishi--Was there a real "Ishi" or an ancient person who you based Ishi on?
SJG: Yes, in fact Ishi is quite famous, and the last five years of his life (1911–1916) are well documented. I did quite a bit of research to learn about the Yahi, whose Stone Age customs, traditions, and technology were still being practiced in the early 20th century.
SM: What made you mesh the Stone Age era component into the modern-day story you wrote? And why did you decide on the Stone Age era in the first place?
SJG: I loved the idea that Ishi was born into a Stone Age culture while much of the rest of our nation was becoming highly industrialized. A couple days after Ishi was “discovered,” he was transported by railroad to bustling San Francisco, where he saw large sailing ships and even an airplane. This image has always fascinated me, and I knew early on that I would not write a Clan of the Cave Bear-type story. You see, I wasn’t as interested in the Old Ways of the Yahi as I was in the clash of cultures, Stone Age and Modern.
SM: How does Ishi become a catalyst for David Grossman to face certain issues in his modern life?
SJG: Human nature, for better or worse, seems to be a constant. For thousands of years, going back to the Stone Age, people have labored, fought, loved … much as they do today. Conversely, modern humans—for all their advanced knowledge and technology—are capable of expressing the most primitive, savage impulses.
SM: Oh yes. I have to agree with you there, my friend. Since mankind has walked erect, breaking away from the apes, nothing much has changed by way of their nature.
SJG: And insofar as both are human, David Grossman and Ishi are not so different in terms of their basic needs. By comparing Stone Age and Modern characters, we see that the more things change, the more they stay the same.
SM: An excellent point. As for The Ishi Affair, although a work of fiction, how much did you draw from true historical facts to write this story?
SJG: Almost everything I wrote about the historical Ishi is based on well-known research. I altered only one or two minor details to accommodate the needs of my narrative. Readers should remember that we are not that far removed from Ishi’s time. Interesting note: the esteemed sci-fi writer, Ursula K. Le Guin, who is still alive and well, is the daughter of early 20th-century anthropologist Alfred Kroeber and his second wife, Theodora Kroeber, both of whom play roles in my novel. And, just for the record: Le Guin’s middle initial K stands for Kroeber.
SM: This sounds like a fascinating story indeed. And before we go, is there anything else you would like your readers to know?
SJG: I first learned about Ishi when I was 17 and working on an archaeological dig in northern California. That summer, after the dig, I began to write a novel about Ishi and the Yahi. Even then I knew I would combine the story of the Stone Age tribe into a contemporary tale. But I lacked maturity. I needed an adult voice to tell this story. It took me 46 years to get it right.
SM: Thank you, Steven, for doing this interview. Without your agreeing to be my guest today I would never have learned about Ishi and his ancestry. The Ishi Affair is definitely on my reading list now.
SJG: Thank you, Sylvia, for hosting me on your blog post; and the next one (and it's on my bucket list) is to do a face to face interview with you in the land Down Under.
SM: Dear Steven... I'll hold you to that! Bye for now.
NOTE TO READERS: Dear readers, please note that being an Aussie I use Australian spelling in my blog posts, but I don't alter the spelling of the guest's responses, which in this case are written in American spelling. Thank you and until next time!
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