Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Sarada's Troll

"Do not feed the troll" is a common exhortation with a lot of sense in it.  Clearly to give much attention at all to someone who is behaving badly in order to get attention is a bad thing as it rewards that bad behaviour.  I have in fact been a little concerned that Sarada has been giving her troll as much attention as she has. Having said that, there are times when instead of you feeding the troll, the troll feeds you, and this is one of those.

I've started in the middle again, haven't I? OK.

There has been a persistent troll over on Sarada's main blog.  Judging by some of the things he has said, I'm pretty sure I know who he is, but we keep him around for amusement. I never get trolled here of course due to the very small readership, but over on YouTube I get plenty of that.  When I get trolled there, the first thing I do is to look at the troll's channel. I almost invariably find that they have no uploaded videos.  How to explain this?

Well, it could be that they maintain a channel just for trolling, or at least for making comments on videos, and in fact there's no obligation to upload videos just because you happen to be on YT.  If you don't though, it means the conversation is rather one-sided and misses the whole point of the site.  It becomes rather like watching the telly rather than having a proper nuanced conversation.  In any case, I very much doubt that's the real explanation for the absence of videos.

I think the  viddearth results from excessive self-criticism and low self-esteem.  If you don't make any videos yourself while freely criticising others, it may just be that your standards for what counts as good are so high that they stop you from even trying to make a contribution while encouraging you to pick holes in others' because like your own potential work they fail to meet your ionospherically high standards. Therefore contributors get to see your carping and nothing else.

I'm not sure it's fair to level such an accusation at Sarada's troll although I do also think this kind of mindset can contribute to a typically right wing approach to life and the world.  If you are blaming yourself for failure or thinking that "even little you" can achieve X in life, you might go on to judge others equally harshly, and that can add up to a rather conservative world view in the end which attributes responsibility very much to individuals and sees the power and therefore blame to be in their hands for removing themselves from, for example, a poverty trap.

This is where Sarada's troll comes in, because his welcome contributions to Sarada's blog then begin to make more sense.  His offensiveness to Sarada and myself is rather limited for the simple reason that his world view differs so much from ours that it can have little impact on us.  To draw a real-world analogy, the most hurtful forms of transphobia are passive and unintended, or come from the people closest to me.  Indifference is of course often worse than hatred, but at least he doesn't fall into that category.  However, one of the most hurtful things that can happen to me is to be called "sir" by a stranger aiming to show me respect.  What really doesn't have any, or at least the same kind of, impact on me is, for instance, an alcoholic in a park haranguing me about my gonads or a gang of transphobic young men blocking my path in the city centre and threatening me, because at that point I don't so much see them as people as mere physical hazards to my well-being such as freezing cold weather or a sudden gust of wind near a cliff.  They have failed to achieve the status of perceived sentience, although that's not to say that I wouldn't help one if he was to suffer a medical emergency or give him food if he was starving.  Sarada's troll's world view has placed him on that level for me, so I now see him as an interesting phenomenon, perhaps like a chatbot or a mild computer virus, rather than a person worthy of respect, although I'm sure he is in the real world.

Some examples of how he has managed to remove himself from respectworthiness follow.

In a possibly unpublished post, he has described a certain group of people as "half-wits".  This is an attempt to label people as of less worth because of an alleged disability, and if inaccurate is no better as it uses disability as a slur.  This means he's valuing someone as of less worth because of something which is not only beyond their control but also by no means a character flaw.  It happens to be false as well.  What it illustrates about him is that he has responded to an immediate impression of disgust or repellence at the Other by evaluating a person's unchangeable character in ethical terms.  There is no nuance or empathy here, but it's also interesting as it indicates a vice-virtue based view of ethics, which to be honest is quite interesting and has quite an attraction to me intellectually.  It might also serve as a warning to me of a danger with virtue-based ethics.

"So-called husband" and "wife" are two epithets applied to me, partly of course because he is attempting to get at Sarada rather than myself, and perhaps to hammer on a wedge between us.  Here he has a problem because by taking this approach he is actually not misgendering me, so it makes me feel better rather than worse.  However, it doesn't really work for me because now that he's used the word "half-wit", I can't take his views seriously.  It does give me a very slight warm glow though.  At least he isn't calling me "sir".  Quite the opposite.

Finally, and this is the most interesting thing, he says Sarada is talentless.  Since he comes from a right-wing perspective, he is likely to place trust in market forces as an accurate mechanism for determining value.  That means that his judgement of the quality of Sarada's work is inconsistent.  All that matters, according to his presumed value system, is the market value of her work, and she does actually get paid for it.  There is no come back from this unless he does not subscribe to the supremacy of the so-called free market.  His claim today, in fact, that he passes her blog content to his friends so they can all have a good laugh at her "expense" means, in fact, that her writing is of value to him and others, and since he may have rejected the notion of any other criterion of value than popularity and demand, the more he passes it on and the more people laugh at her stuff, the more thoroughly refuted his evaluation of her work becomes.

This, of course, is an example of the kind of contradiction inherent in the capitalist world view.  He paradoxically values her work as ridiculous while contradicting himself by attempting and failing to attribute a negative value to my beloved "urine-guzzling dyke in denial" (I wish!).  So I would like to thank Sarada's troll for once again corroborating Marxism as an accurate account of the nature of society and economics, if any were needed.