Internet Trolling: A Possible End to an Era

Freelancing means getting your work read by thousands of people. Your jokes which you labored over for days and the research you compiled in countless word documents manifest themselves into this dazzling, digital page that you proudly share on your Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr (and pretty much any venue that will listen and click).  The feeling you get after you read your first comment for your first published article is unreal. You keep reading the sentences that you created, over and over again, refreshing the page all day long. And then, one day, you receive your first mean comment.

Not everyone is going to enjoy your writing, so if that is something you think is achievable, drop that notion completely. You can write about kittens wearing tights and I guarantee someone out there will find your words and ideas so repulsive and idiotic, that they will dedicate an entire essay to you, publicly. And it’s going to sting, because why would anyone get offended by kittens in tights?! Once, I wrote about the benefits of a liberal arts degree, and came to discover someone dedicated three whole personal blog posts about me and how I must be living off the government/a man. The virtual world is a cruel, hard place. It’s also an innovative world filled with brilliance and wonder, but all beautiful bridges hide ugly trolls.

Internet trolling isn’t just limited to writing; YouTube’s comment section is a valley of vehemence and bad grammar. Facebook also falls victim to this behavior, too. Even if you take away anonymity, people still feel safe enough to voice their hateful opinions. There hasn’t really been a viable solution (except to completely take away the comment section) until now.

YouTube, owned by Google, has redesigned the way users can submit their comments. They are putting more emphasis on well-meaning conversations rather than random, off-topic comments. YouTube states that the idea is to ensure that YouTube comments will become conversations that matter to you.”

The whole point of the comment section is to allow people to converse with the author and other viewers. Unlike newspapers and magazines, subscribers don’t have to wait a month for letters to the editor. Feedback is instantaneous, and ideas are posted minutes after an article, video, or photo is uploaded; these benefits highlight the beauty of the internet and its ability to provide instant gratification.

Instead of by chronological order, comments will be ranked by relevancy (YouTube will take into account who wrote the comments, +1s, the number of replies, and other signals to surface the best comments). Also, comments can be public or private; if you simply wish to have a conversation about a video with people in your Google+ circle without all the BS, it’s possible now.

For the video creators themselves, they can block certain words, auto-approve comments from fans, and still screen comments before they are posted.

I know this system only pertains to the Google-verse at the moment, but their innovations will surely catch fire in other forums. Websites shouldn’t have to manually read every single comment before they decide to post them; technology is advanced enough to sort out the bad automatically.

Looking through the comments on this article introducing the new YouTube commenting system, ironically there are several commenters angrily pointing out that it’s much more difficult to post anything now if you’re not affiliated with Google. One even referred to this change as “1984” which is kind of funny. Maybe it is like 1984, but as they (Zooey Deschanel!) say, if you can’t say anything nice, then don’t say anything at all. And now maybe you can’t.

Featured image via, cat image via eonline