Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Wise Men Dare Trek There...Internet Trolls and Politics

It's almost December everyone and we all know what that means! Christmas! Er...Holidays, wait that might be part of some pseudo Illuminati conspiracy and Justin Trudeau is bringing refugees around that time so our way of life as we know it is coming to an end!

Sound familiar? If it does, then you most likely have visited an internet forum or like any other human being, joined an online discussion regarding one or many of a multitude of possible topics.

The most recent federal election showed us an example of how old can become new again with the Red Wave bringing "real" change to Canadians and ousting long past his best before date Stephen Harper and his Conservatives. With it though, many Canadians witnessed the odd and often annoying power of the Online Troll, the agitator, keyboard warrior or plain and simple son of a bitch!

Trudeau brought back the 90's with the Liberal Red Surge

Urban Dictionary defines an Online Troll as:

A person whose sole purpose in life is to seek out people to argue with on the internet over extremely trivial issues. Such arguments can happen on blogs, Facebook, MySpace and a host of others.
The best thing you can do to fight an internet troll is to not answer..or report them.  

During the election, we all witnessed a strong and confident Thomas Mulcair with what looked to be a continuation if not tsunami forming from the previous Orange Wave. Then something happened, Stephen Harper took his traditional anti-liberal attack ads strategy, put it into a corner and dialed in the number for the "football", which we would later be discussing as the great Niqab debate of 2015.

What started as a campaign against the darkness, fighting to liberate Canada from a Prime Minister and his party of corrupt and deranged ministers, very quickly became a YOU VS. ME match regarding Canadian values and the apparent rebellious stance of a Muslim woman, who up to that point was as much of a nobody as you or I!

Hark! Hark! The Trolls be coming...and with that we witnessed a storm of discussion that not only kept people up at night, but brought out everyone's darkest fears and attitudes. All because of a piece of cloth utilized by a minority. Never mind that Canadian children go to bed and then school hungry, never mind that those same kids have a higher than ever chance of dropping out and living a life on the system. Or you know..that the world around them is heating up due to man made climate change and that everything as we know it is rapidly changing for possibly the worst. No, never mind all of that because instead we had to worry about a piece of cloth that someone decided not to take off during her citizenship oath and in doing so, destroyed the chances of our best bet from being elected.

Instead, we allowed ourselves to be overcome by the words of the few online and in the media, who brought out our worst fears and allowed us to run away from imaginary monsters. It was almost as if Canada experienced a group think similar to the Rwandan genocide (Thank God it didn't escalate to the same level). Neighbor's and family members turned on each other as they discussed political stances and what was perceived as the appropriate Canadian value that explained why the Niqab debate was either valid or invalid.

My thanksgiving much like many others involved a heated discussion on the stupidity being witnessed during the election and the proper solution to it all. What eventually came from this debate is strategic campaign tactics that took a fresh face selling change, while in reality putting a new face on a familiar and old dynamic in Canadian politics. Canadians voted for change, but simply fell for the same old back and forth politics that have plagued this country for generations. And unfortunately, it will most likely lead to many once again becoming apathetic about the politics process if the elected kid doesn't really watch out and stick to his promises (Which, so far he has to a certain extent).

This discussion really emphasizes though the power of the changing world we live in. No longer is the media the most influential source for news in our society as we have social media in general and Facebook specifically giving us information that can directly impact our stance on important topics. What I have found during my time reading over comments is that it often does not require much effort on the behalf of an Online Troll to bring out the emotion in others, which in turn can lead to very illogical and drastic responses, example in point being the sudden fear of refugees because they are all terrorists and will bomb us. Another good one is the: We need to bring back the death penalty because these criminals don't deserve to be considered human! 

With society relying more heavily on social media and the internet, one has to wonder how our election process will change in the near future. Will politicians in the making need to remove their personal lives from the internet as a whole? Or will we be seeing a new level of glossy, presentation oriented and fake candidates emerging as their glass house becomes much larger?

More importantly, how will the perception of the electorate change when the information they are utilizing on a daily basis remains vulnerable to the wills of Online Trolls and political agitators? While social media and the internet has allowed people to become more informed are they really well informed?

Only time will tell...

Until Next Time!