by Jonathan Rothwell

[LINK] Swimming in a sea of shit

I was somewhere outside the United States having a conversation with another critic about our respective jobs. The subject of whether we had ever thought of quitting came up, and he told me a story about sharing the death of a family member on social media, a loss that had affected him greatly.

Someone sent him the following message: “Good.” He told me that was the first time he had seriously thought about quitting, that the job just wasn’t worth the nearly constant stream of abuse you’re forced to endure online.

The sorry Phil Fish affair, and the increasing furore over sexist flamers1 on Twitter, has at the very least given us plenty of food for thought.

I am in favour of a free Internet, but one where people obey the law.2 Harrassment, and threatening to assault, rape or murder someone, is against the law.

It is all well and good to say “welcome to the Internet.” I have, sadly, used this argument myself, in younger, more naïve days. But one can’t help but wonder if the best we can do with the most powerful communications medium known to man is really nothing more than complain about imaginary internet points.

  1. Let’s stop calling them trolls. Trolling implies some mythical, legendary, ethereal quality. What they really are is an arsehole with a keyboard.

  2. Assuming the law is reasonable, of course, without overbearing copyright laws and restrictions on what can be written or read.