Be adults, not trolls

Trent Baer, Staff Reporter

A quick glance through the online comment pages of The Landmark brings up two points. The first is that local parents and taxpayers are very concerned with the current referendum. The second, unfortunately, is that many of the people commenting are “trolls.”

I am not referring to a little monster that lives under a bridge and steals your goat if you don’t answer his three questions, and I’m not talking about the kind in caves either. Trolls, in this context, are (possibly green and hairy) people who lurk in the anonymous shadows of the Internet, plastering forums and comment sections with their unfiltered, and often untrue, opinions. Trolls can write what they want without having to be held accountable for the repercussions of their words.

To some, this is freedom of speech, while to others, it is a license to shove an opinion in others’ faces, completely forgoing etiquette, proper use of grammar, and correct spelling.

The reason the Landmark is so disturbing to me is not the presence of trolls, as anyone who spends any time online has had sufficient exposure to their kind, but the identity of these trolls. Because it’s a local paper, we can be sure that the trolls prowling around The Landmark are local as well. This sheds uneasy light on the previously dark faces of our trolls, revealing that they are our parents, neighbors, and bosses.

The example being set for us by our elders is that it’s ok to argue a point while foaming at the mouth or completely belligerent. Vicious ad hominem attacks and CONSTANT USE OF CAPITAL LETTERS are not the debating standard our parents should be setting in place for us, but sadly, it appears they are.

The point of this piece isn’t to support or condemn the referendum, but rather to urge the parents, grandparents, neighbors, and bosses in the area to take a step back and examine the way in which they conduct themselves online.

At its core, the lesson being taught here is that character isn’t important if you’re not wearing a name tag. Maybe local trolls are the ones who need to be involved with the “Character Counts” program here in the building.