Positive piece on comics = 0 comments. Negative piece = 136 comments. This tells editors what to commission folks. http://t.co/eMabpBmxwv
— Laura Sneddon (@thalestral) February 18, 2015
Every time you respond to a troll, his dick grows.
Laura Sneddon commented on this last night and she was referring to Christopher Murray’s Comics studies has been undervalued for too long: we’re fighting to change this, but it could also have referred to Comic-book heroes deserve better than a trashing her response to Jonathan Jones’s po faced When did the comic-book universe become so banal?. Sneddon’s “Comics are good!” piece got so little comment I didn’t even even hear about it until I was checking her twitter stream for the above tweet. All three pieces were published in The Guardian, a generally left leaning UK paper that has had a lot of comics coverage in the New Era. But if you have any doubt that we all got punked, and the punkings will continue until morale declines, check out the shares and comments on all three pieces:
Jones: 3528 shares, 157 comment
Murray: 1093 shares, 8 comment
Sneddon: 130 shares, 5 comments
A pretty dismal showing for rationality, I’m afraid.
Of course, we’re all prey to the “outrage-o-meter” syndrome. Unfortunately, it’s human nature to be more aroused by outrage than nodding your head in agreement.
A 2013 study, from Beihang University in Beijing, of Weibo, a Twitter-like site, found that anger is the emotion that spreads the most easily over social media. Joy came in a distant second. The main difference, said Ryan Martin, a psychology professor at the University of Wisconsin, Green Bay, who studies anger, is that although we tend to share the happiness only of people we are close to, we are willing to join in the rage of strangers. As the study suggests, outrage is lavishly rewarded on social media, whether through supportive comments, retweets or Facebook likes. People prone to Internet outrage are looking for validation, Professor Martin said. “They want to hear that others share it,” he said, “because they feel they’re vindicated and a little less lonely and isolated in their belief.”
This simple fact of human nature has led to our amygdala-based headline culture, political polarization and the constant stream of bad news, leavened only by pictures of young Kurt Cobain holding a kitten.
Kurt Cobain and Cat pic.twitter.com/z8MgNnSU1a
— ClassicPics (@History_Pics) February 18, 2015
And the trolls know this, and live off outrage. It’s the triumph of Diplo. And he’s absolutely right: we may rail and shake our tiny fists at him for being an insensitive sexist asshole, but he’s the one having sex with Katy Perry and producing tracks with noted feminist icon Madonna. All with his giant, outrage pumped hard-on.
Jonathan Jones is laughing as well. Having upset the apple cart and prompted thousands of hits, he’s already moved on to wondering if tattoos are art—the answer, is of course, yes!
This reveals something fascinating about why tattoos are not treated as “serious” art. It is not because they come from the Pacific. Works of art from Hawaii and Easter Island are museum treasures. But tattoos were taken up by the European lower orders: thus they got a plebeian, even criminal, reputation and are still seen as disreputable by some, despite becoming more and more popular now.
Sneddon gets to the heart of the matter. Outrage fuels discussion, social sharing and traffic. It works. Believe me, I could get a ton more traffic and attention by trolling and stoking the outrage fires—and indeed I’m often chided for not being more outraged—but I’d rather go the way of attempting to be informative and offering positive information. The internet has gamed humans need for outrage in a very negative way—and I often see people defending their response to trolls as a personal decision to offer the other side of the story, wasting even more time. It’s the flip side of “the need for balance” that positions climate change deniers as somehow equal to 90% of the world’s scientists.
Anyway, next time you see someone trolling, stop and think before you hit the twitter button. Are you REALLY doing good or just ensuring that trolls have giant dicks? The internet’s secret of penis enlargement has indeed been found, and it’s outrageous.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.