Internet Self Defense and Locust Trolls

Every so often a post I write gets picked up by one of the 800 pound gorillas of the internet.

It’s almost always a very simple post that took no effort to write and which has, at most, one idea without any nuances or development.

I’m still quite new at this blogging stuff, so my opinions about it are forming, not formed. One of my forming, but not quite formed opinions is that if you want mega huge traffic numbers, you need to dumb your writing down.

I’m not going to do that, mainly because I don’t care about mega huge traffic numbers. That has nothing to do with the purpose of this blog. I don’t want every reader. I want readers who are interested in building a community of people who want to stand up for Jesus.

That said, whenever one of these internet gorillas links to one of my posts, I first become aware of it by the sudden influx of profane, foul-mouthed insults that appear in my com boxes. That’s what happened Saturday.

Two of my posts got picked up by other blogs with large followings. One of them was just another blogging colleague. But one was a major news service who keeps their numbers up by trashifying their coverage.

It didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out what was happening. I literally sat and watched the comment numbers tick up, one after the other, 44, 45, 46, 47 … 200, 300 …, just about as fast as the little meter could register them.

The two posts that got this loving attention were the humorous one where I compared atheists to vampires and the not-so-humorous one where I said that President Obama’s The First Time ad demeaned women and was beneath the dignity of his office.

I let any comment that I thought would lead to some sort of intelligent discussion through. I deleted comments that attacked Christians, Christianity, cursed, called me names (there were a lot of these), or which advanced arguments that I’ve learned are just come-ons for circular agenda-stealing, blog-destroying verbal wrangling that has no end.

The result: only a smattering of comments made their way through, and my trash file is blushing from shame about what I dumped into it.

I’ve learned that when I get one of these nasty-comment storms, the easiest way to delete is to use my cell phone. That way, I can just use my thumb to touch that little trash icon and send the f-bombs and you are a (insert misogynist name for a woman’s body part) away to virtual oblivion.

These surges of nut case comments don’t usually last too long. These people aren’t actual readers. They’re more like plagues of locusts. They fly through, destroy your blog if you let them, and then fly on, searching for somewhere else to behave like abusive wackos.

Before I went to bed last night, I studied the various stats from these two particular locust clouds. The Obama locusts almost all flew in on a mobile device, primarily either an iPhone or an iPad. The iPhone had by far the highest numbers of all the devices they used. I own both these gadgets. In fact, I used my iPhone to delete these little darlings. I’m not making a connection between Apple and internet nut jobs.

What I am thinking is that these are most likely internet savvy people. They evidently read internet news services on their mobile devices and then one-off a few foul-mouthed assaults in what appears to be an almost reflexive manner. I’m guessing that most of them don’t even remember making a comment on Public Catholic.

I think the atheist-vampire locusts are a much older crowd than the Obama locusts, and also much more intentional. They tend to fly in on their computers, and on Internet Explorer. Again, this has nothing to do with Microsoft. I think it’s more of a generational thing.

The Obama locusts focused almost exclusively on sexual thinking, which is not surprising, given the nature of the ad I wrote about. Their language was what you’d expect. A number of them were women. Most of their comments were focused on me personally. About the nicest thing anybody called me was “prude.” It went downhill — waaaayyyyy downhill — from there.

The atheist locusts came in with angry diatribes against Christians and Christianity. Some of them referenced their many victories in the courts limiting Christians’ freedom of speech and expression (not that they called it this) and angry comments about how vile they found the symbolism of the cross. None of them that I can remember actually attacked the Lord Himself. And most of them weren’t aimed at me. So far as I can remember, they were all male.

I don’t remember an atheist who called me any of the ugly names our society uses for women, which is certainly more than I can say for the Obama locusts. Instead, they gave full vent to their hatred of Christianity.

The Obama Locusts just buzzed in, dropped their load of insults and flew on by. The atheist locusts stayed to argue. When I deleted their comments, they circled back with insults and threats demanding that I undelete them. A couple of them went over the top with this.

All in all, it was an interesting exercise; my own little laboratory for the study of internet trolls in action. I’m not saying that all Obama supporters or all atheists behave like this. Obviously most of the members of both these groups were out enjoying their weekend. I’ve written other posts that got me zapped from Christian trolls who just flew in to quote canon law and tell me that I’m not pro-life enough.

The internet gives people a cloak of anonymity that lets them behave as they really want to, rather than as they feel they have to. For most people, that doesn’t mean much of anything at all. But for some, it’s a ticket to verbally act out their lower passions without regard for consequences. I also think that for some of them trashing other people on the internet is their primary recreation.

When I study the comments on other blogs and talk to other bloggers, it rapidly becomes apparent that Christian blogs are a primary — not exclusive, but primary — target of these attacks.

I’ve never seen a blog where a man gets called the kind of names that I get called. Of course, we are such a misogynist society that our language doesn’t even HAVE those names for men.

It’s no surprise, really, that two of the primary targets of these foul-mouthed internet attacks should be women and Christians. After all, our politically correct society has limited the targets. Who else can you call filthy names and be intolerant of except women and Christians?

My point is that we don’t have to let internet trolls take over our conversations, destroy our on-line communities and keep us from accomplishing what we want to accomplish with our blogs. We can stop them.

All we have to do is use that delete button.


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