Wednesday, August 01, 2007

New kind of Troll

This is something that's been bugging me for awhile, and so I wanted to bring it up for discussion. To the list of categories of troll (Concern, etc.) that folks on blogs refer to, I'd like to add a new one: The "Despair Troll." This may seem harsh, but frankly, I've had enough.

I define a Despair Troll as someone who does some version of the following:

To an action diary, they post a comment like:

"Yeah, that'll happen. Americans are too wrapped up in [Paris Hilton/Lindsay Lohan/American Idol/Boy Bands etc etc etc] to pay any attention to your [protest/LTE campaign/boycott etc.].

I understand feeling discouraged at times about the state of American culture and the prevailing state of political...unseriousness, shall we say.

And, don't get me wrong: I'm all for venting and wailing/teeth-gnashing in the face of defeats and set-backs: Liberal Blogs are largely what got me through the '04 presidential and congressional defeats. As a community, Progressive blogs ought to be places to vent these feelings among friends (like I say, I've done a fair amount of this myself, in fact).

I think it is a question of finding the appropriate forum for this. Replying to a proposal for political action with an expression of despair or "good luck with that..." cynicism seems trollish to me; at the very least it is unhelpful.

Also, it must be said that there's a category of reply that, while it may seem disparaging, is intended as reality-testing, and is not what I'm talking about: "While I would applaud organizing, tonight, a million people to march on Congress by tomorrow, I wonder if you've thought through the logistics..."

BUT, if someone posts a comment like, "I say we protest at the Capitol tomorrow! Who's with me?" a reply that Americans are celebrity-obsessed morons and why bother? would certainly qualify as "despair trolling", as would such a response to a proposal to organize such a massive protest, say, a few months out, with concrete proposals in terms of first steps, the scope of the agenda and what it would accomplish, ideas for building buzz within the progressive community, why it is time to consider it, etc.

I don't want to belabor this. I'm just really, REALLY sick of reading cheap, cynical responses to expressions of hope. I want to keep coming here, and I have hopes of my own, and I will not have those hopes disparaged. This about respect.

After all, we are progressives. Progress pre-supposes hope.

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