Popular Culture Has a New Responsibility, Whether it Likes it or Not

Star Wars Protest

In the age of Trump, millennials, a generation raised by popular culture, have been looking to it to draw meaning and make sense of the world. Everything that happens these days is apparently just like that one moment from Harry Potter, every time someone gets fired it brings to mind a shocking character death on Game of Thrones, every government official is just like that villain from Star Wars; even that horrific Charlottesville march and the President’s equally horrific response to it reminded people of that one time this character did that thing in this book/movie/TV show. We can argue until we’re blue in the face about whether or not this is a dumb way to look at the world, but it’s the way things are now for a lot of people. As we begin to isolate ourselves through technology and media, those things become enormous influences to us. The irony is that pop culture has become less explicitly didactic, TV creators these days aren’t interested in teaching word for word blatant lessons of the day, and more writers are content with trusting audiences to figure things out for themselves. We have such a diverse group of people consuming media in these increasingly confusing times, and in a lot of cases, people are taking the wrong lessons.

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The ‘Le Reddit Army’ : A Case Study


Ever read that phrase in a Youtube video? Or see an internet caricature along the line of Berta Lovejoy, or some variation of a fedora wearing atheist posting some inane top-rated comment on a video? Well then, you have encountered a member of the greatly despised “Le Reddit Army”, a group of redditors on the internet who band together to post obnoxious messages on youtube and upvote their fellow soldiers. As I mentioned in a previous article, these guys are a relatively recent brand of troll who operate by impersonating internet stereotypes and inspiring rage from people who fall for their act, proud redditors who don’t want to be associated with them, and anyone who just doesn’t like seeing obvious trolls getting top comments. Who are they exactly, what should you be doing in response to them, and what does their presence say about the internet community as a whole? By the end of this article you will at least have some understanding of these internet trouble makers and then you can decide for yourself whether or not they are worth getting worked up about.

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Everyone has Butts: A Guide to Understanding Criticism on the Internet

Have you ever heard the phrase “Opinions are like butts”? It refers to the fact that everyone has one and it hints at the tendency we have to not be as accepting of ones that do not belong to us. After all, other butts tend to stink, and at the same time the stench of our own is a foreign element to others. The way it could be received on such an expansive platform like the internet is really anyone’s guess, and that in itself is source of the problem. Since so many different people have access to the web, a huge array of conflicting perspectives on things are going to clash. It is no exaggeration to say that there is no such thing as a subjective thought that someone on the internet does not disagree with. No matter how obvious and self-evident a perspective seems to you, there is definitely going to be someone out there who vehemently disagrees with it. Chances are on the web that if someone disagrees with something you said, they’ll let you know in the least graceful way possible. Often, this will lead to what we call an internet argument (you don’t want that, trust me). People on the internet have unfortunately gotten so used to being harassed over their opinions on things, that they have resorted to throwing out the pointless phrases “in my opinion” at the beginning of their statements and “but that’s just my take” at the end. We know it was in your opinion, the assumption that it wasn’t came from being on the internet too long. In a world where everyone is ridiculously self-conscience about their thoughts on things, we are now used to this fear of being ostracized for them. And fear is what it really comes down to on both sides.

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Musings & Trollisms: A Guide to the Trolling Mindset

[Fibbing Intensifies]

Trolls are people who spread negativity on the internet through deception. This broad description of them is fitting because there are many different kinds of trolls. There are trolls who deceive people by deliberately saying something naive or stupid (EX: “How does this video have 10 million views, there are only 7 million people on the planet?”), and there are trolls that take on an unusually aggressive stance on something that really didn’t need one (EX: “Anyone who STILL believes in God is a confirmed idiot!”). Recently, a newer “roleplaying” type of troll that originates from the “Le Reddit Army”, who invade youtube comment sections and masquerade as stereotypical internet personalities like the “fedora-wearing-neckbeard” and the “angry feminist”. These trolls are meant to incite anger within people in two different ways. The ones gullible enough to actually buy their charade are offended by their patheticness, and the ones that can see through them are annoyed by the sheer volume of them that exist. Trolls often fight with meaningless nonsense, but they rely on their victim’s reaction for their “reward”, so in the end, trolls are only as effective as you allow them to be. On the other hand, there are those who enjoy harassing people, sending threats, saying explosively racist and offensive things, and telling others to kill themselves. These people are often identified as trolls, when in reality they are more akin to legitimate criminals and cyber bullies. Identifying someone that openly sends death threats as a “troll” downplays the seriousness of his or her actions. Actual trolling is like a balancing act, a line between legitimate and fraudulent, entertaining and disheartening, funny and sad; a line that must be carefully balanced upon. In the end, trolling is a performance, and the difference between a skilled troll and an artless basement-dweller is apparent. Before going any further, the question of why trolls troll must be addressed.

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In Your Opinion: A Guide to Arguing on the Internet

A cookie to anyone who recognizes the reference being made.

Arguing on the internet is an exercise in futility. No one wants to compromise, no one likes to lose, and admitting you’re wrong goes against one of the key pleasures of the internet: Anonymity. The knowledge that no one knows how you look or sound like is a hugely important factor in deciding what one is capable of saying. You are able to be as cool and confident as you wish you could be in real life, but when someone comes along to shatter that illusion, you can’t help but clutch onto that semblance of power as tightly as you can and this often materializes into what we call an “Internet Argument”. Internet arguments are often started by simple disagreements over petty things like movies or video games, but they are sustained by clashing egos. Eventually, way past the point where the argument should have been logically settled, individuals will continue to hurl progressively longer and longer posts until one person stops due to a mix of boredom and frustration. The “winner” for a lack of a better term, is the person who gets the last post in the argument, but after a certain point it starts to seem like everyone is the loser. The anxiety of checking if your opponent responded, the huge amount of time wasted cycling through repetitive arguments, and the knowledge that you’ll never have peace of mind until you’ve buried the “idiot” that disagrees with you is a situation one definitely should avoid. As a veteran arguer of the internet myself, I have a wealth of knowledge and experience I would like to impart to my dear readers that I’m sure will prove useful to you one day. As far as credentials go, I can tell you that I once spent a month arguing with the same person over two separate threads about whether or not “X anime character would beat X other anime character in a fight”. Eventually it got to the point where we would need to post 3 times in a row because there was a limit of 1000 words for a single post. Needless to say, even though I got the last word in, I did not feel like a winner at all. That’s why it’s important that you pay close attention to my first tip.

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