Tag Archives: troll

When Keeping It Real Goes Wrong

“They don’t gotta burn the books; they just remove ’em”
-Rage Against the Machine, Bulls on Parade

Friends,

Today I lost someone dear to me.  After months of online back and forth he finally unfriended me on Facebook after countless appeals to me to censor myself proved ineffective. I am kind of ambivalent; on the one hand I no longer have to scroll through my newsfeed and see his posturing as an intellectual and the subsequent overpowering urge to question the logical flaws in his arguments, buuut, at the same time his world just became a little more insular and he has less people to challenge him.

To be clear, in my view there was nothing I said that was particularly insulting; rather there is a history of both IRL and OL animosity which made it difficult for our online interactions to be amicable.  Case in point, by this morning I literally could not even present a separate point of view (on the topic of placenta-eating of all things) without him deleting it (deletion being his common recourse to my comments as of late). However, I don’t want to talk about who was right and who was wrong and who said what because it would be impossible to sift through and really it doesn’t matter.

What I find to be infinitely more interesting are the broader implications for online conduct.  At what point do we delete comments?  At what point does a comment become so offensive that we must alter history to read the way we want it to?  I think the only empirical answer is that either all comments are okay or none are okay; any limit on conduct based on personal taste will only (can only) be arbitrary.  That said, there are politics involved in which comments and points of view we allow  to be visible in our online profiles, because like it or not, people will judge us based on what we allow.

Or will they?

To be sure, certain people might make assumptions about you based on the company you keep, but its folly to believe that any of us are so important that worlds will come crashing down if someone gets wind of the fact that some of our friends have fringe ideas. For example, I have some Islamophobic friends who occasionally (not recently) posts xenophobic anti-immigration stuff or pro-military jingoistic crap on my wall.  What does one do in a situation like this? Well, I’m gonna go out on a limb and say that if its hate-speech of any kind there is usually a logical way to quickly point out that it is little more than bigotry and prejudice with no empirical value.  So I point out that lack of logic. Mind you I try not to do this in an antagonistic way, but I instead I ask them to substantiate their positions with well-reasoned arguments. This does two things: One, it lets anyone who might be paying attention know that I don’t co-sign hate; and Two, more importantly it shows that I am secure enough in my own position and online persona that I don’t need to block ideas that I feel might reflect negatively on me.

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Ultimately, if you conduct yourself well, someone posting bull-jive on your profile is making an ass of themselves, not you.  The court of public opinion will quickly correct the situation.

I think this idea should serve as an example of how we deal with the inevitable posts that we don’t like. I have never been a fan of censorship and I acknowledge that it starts in the most inoccuous ways.  For example, we would all feel justified in deleting comments that were racist in some way but when it comes down to it, that is censorship.  This is why I much prefer the upvote/downvote model adopted by Reddit; nobody can pretend to be an authority on what constitutes offensive comments as they are weeded out by the groupmind which might be moving in a different direction that the commenter or the would-be censor.

It’s not a perfect system, but until people stop being so easily offended by words on the internet, its about the best I’ve seen.

Best,
-Andre Guantanamo

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Anonymity & Identity

My Friends,

   Been doing a lot of facebook debating as of late.  I mean its one thing to write a blog and hope someone reads it, but if you comment on someone’s post I find it is more engaging; people are more willing to discuss things that they brought up in the first place by posting them.  I would like to think it is always a mutually respectful discussion, but sometimes things are misunderstood, or points aren’t made or someone gets frustrated, or someone makes a joke without putting LOL at the end and things devolve rather quickly.  This is an unfortunate limitation of text-based discussions.  
   Now, between the ongoing discussion I have been having with a friend of mine for over 3 weeks (it started when I implied stated outright that Obama and all other president’s were ineffectual), and the more recent thread I started on the FB group “Veterans Against Occupy Wall Street,” (I tried asking them why they were so against OWS and they accused me of trolling and then deleted the thread) I have spent quite a bit of time as of late elucidating on the ills of society as I see them.  What I didn’t take into account initially was that these comments posted on facebook would be visible to my friends.  People started making references to these discussions (positive and negative) and just today my friend posted this…
…on my wall, along with some choice words about how people viewed me.  Insofar as I let myself get caught up in arguments, he is right.  Arguments, even in person are about being right => winning.  However I maintain that there is still merit to discussions, or mutually respectful discourse.  And the great thing about facebook and other social media is that your rationalism or stupidity is there for everyone to see.  It forces you to choose your words a little more carefully because you never know who might be reading their news-feed and see that you were trolling some memorial page for a kid who died from leukemia.
If you troll this kid’s memorial page you are scum!! … never mind why I’m laughing

   I remember one time someone posted a link to a group for sexual abuse survivors.  I think it was called “Sexual Abuse Survivors.”  I saw this thread started by this middle-aged overweight female sexual abuse survivor and saw her attention-whoring about how she was a sexual-abuse survivor.  I made it clear in no uncertain terms that by posting all this about herself on an open forum she was making a great sacrificial lolcow out of herself, and that some troll could easily come and milk her for her delicious lulz.  
Lulz: Where’s Your Mustache?
My warning was interpreted as a troll and it became a bad scene real quick.  I aborted and when I returned to my home-page I saw that the news feed showed like five different posts about how I posted on the sexual abuse survivors group. 
   Bricks were shat.  I didn’t want people to think I was a sexual abuse survivor looking for support, but I especially didn’t want them thinking I was trolling the group.  And that’s probably how it would have looked too; after all I didn’t have to go there and point out their attention-whoring ways.  In fact, my advice was unsolicited and so I kind of looked like a jerk.  This incident made me very cognizant about which arguments were worth getting into on facebook, or at least made me realize that I could change the settings which notified people about where I was posting.  In that regard it helped me to see that if someone is sufficiently pathetic, you can always be in the wrong if you get caught pointing out how pathetic they are acting.  So don’t get caught.
   Then, at some point in time, I discovered 4chan.  Its simply a bunch of different image boards, the most popular one being the /b/ or “random” board which has no rules about posting except that you can’t post illegal things (child porn, how to get child porn, etc…) or else you get banned.  The great thing about 4chan is that posting is done primarily anonymously (although so-called “namefags” can elect to fill out the name field) so the rules you might adhere to on facebook go out the window.  No sexual abuse survivor or leukemia baby is safe.  No pun intended.
   In spite of what you may be thinking, this is actually a good thing.  Not the leukemia trolling specifically but the consequence-free anonymity which enables it.  Sure you can see the ugly side of people but barriers are also torn down.  I guarantee I have been more honest on 4chan on average than I  am in daily life because I know it will never be pinned on me.  The bullshit goes out the window and you see that people, although they have a definite sadistic streak for those who have it coming, are really deeply feeling and fucking hilarious when they don’t have to worry about people poking fun at them personally.  Sure someone may tell you to GTFO or call you a fag, but they’re not calling you a fag, they’re calling anonymous a fag, so they are calling themselves a fag(s).
   Now one April fool’s day a few years back, 4chan’s administrator added a new field to the the established submission field.  It was called “Facebook Connect” and it had a little box to check that would post your 4chan submission (pic & comment) on facebook.  The lulziest part was that the box was checked by default, so if people didn’t notice it was there, then whatever invective, vitriol, faggotry, goatse, heart-warming or noble thing they were posting on 4chan, got posted to their facebook wall.  
   Shit was hilarious.  All of a sudden threads popped up with people submitting screen-caps of their FB profiles with the offensive post displayed, talking about how all of their friends now knew what a racist, sexist, Islamophobe they were and how their lives were ruined.  Thankfully, the admin took it down but it hammered home the point about how your anonymous life and your internets persona but be kept separate and distinct.
   Now you might think, “Good, it taught those guys a lesson.  There shouldn’t be anonymity.  Then people will just behave poorly with impunity.”  I think you would be wrong in this line of thinking; anonymity is the one way we can get away from the pressures of maintaining an internet persona.  You don’t have to post a picture of yourself flexing your muscles, or partying with friends or dressed up nice with the right lighting because no one cares, no one is judging.  Its actually kind of a relief.  
   But its not one or the other: Just as anonymity allows a certain freedom of expression, the accountability which comes with a posting on FB or Twitter is also important because it teaches people what is acceptable in the context of internetting.  For example, anonymity may allow you to express creativity and vulnerability, but it won’t teach you to rebut a differing opinion with anything more than “OP is a fag!,” or “GTFO faggot!”  Likewise, you may learn what is socially acceptable on social networking sites but I find they don’t afford much inspiration or lulz.
  We want an identity but we want anonymity as well.  There is nothing pretentious about the former and nothing cowardly about the latter.  And since I continue to post actively as both myself and anonymous, I have to remember to keep my fb discussions civil or risk becoming a Special Olympics gold-medalist.
Stay Thirsty,
-Andre Guantanamo
   

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The Cancer That’s Killing Facebook

My Friends,
   Pardon me for the tongue-in-cheek title of this post, but its a reference to a commonly-used phrase on a website whose name the first two rules of the internet forbid me from mentioning.

Now that you have absolutely no idea what the fuck I am talking about, let me reassure you that facebook is (mostly fine), but I did spot a post from my sister which caught my attention.  It was a CTV report by Lloyd Robertson (evidently from a few years back) which talked about the use of a cheap chemical called DCA which was showing success in curing cancer but whose efficacy was for some reason being denied by the Canadian Medical Association?? Canadian Drug Administration?  Well, whatever the Canadian equivalent of the FDA is anyhow.
   The posting of the video sparked some enmity from two of her friends, one a microbiologist and the other a cancer researcher (its funny how people who post online are always the undisputed experts of whatever topic they are talking about.
   Ian (the cancer researcher) posted first:

Ian: I don’t even have to watch this to know it’s fake. I work in cancer research – anyone claiming to have ‘a cure for cancer’ doesn’t know what the hell they’re talking about. Cancer is hundreds of different diseases, not a single condition that has ‘a cure’. It’s like saying “I have discovered a cure for disease”.

Then:

Ian: Yeah, DCA is an old story. For some reason it keeps popping up despite the fact that it’s been shown to be based on terribly shoddy science over and over again:

http://scienceblogs.com/

insolence/2011/05/

the_dca_zombie_arises_again
.php (I never checked out the link)


I love a good argument, especially with someone who seems to have so flagrant a conflict of interest, so I had to chime in.  But alas I was at work and a calculated response would simply take too long.  So I waited…
   When I got to the computer half an hour ago, the microbiologist, Jas had said his piece:

Jas: Yup, this video is nonsense and dishonest

There was some banter back and forth between Jas and my sister and then I decided to weigh in:

Me: Ian, if cancer is “hundreds of different diseases” why are you even researching it? surely you must see the hypocrisy… 
As well, the venom with which you attack the video (before watching it no less) betrays an interest in not seeing alternative medicines work Cancer research is big business which carries both fortune and prestige for the researchers.

I am unfamiliar with DCA (the video is playing as I write) but I have heard of Dr. Stanislaus Burzynski and his antineoplastins which have had amazing success in Texas but have been brutally suppressed by the FDA and the American Cancer Association (http://www.youtube.com/

watch?v=1qG_ZWs04es). I suppose he is a quack as well?

I will agree with you that in the broader sense cancer has no simple cause or cure: Removing asbestos from a worksite for example does not solve the greater structural problem of an exploitative labour-market system which will negligently subject workers to the next harmful substance with impunity until specific legislation is passed to prevent it.
There is a definite tendency to look at causes and cures too reductively and not consider the socio-economic factors which contribute to the proliferation of diseases.

However, what makes the formal institution of cancer research (the institution I assume you work for) so different? Do you, in your work, address the social factors or look at the more localized (i.e. physiological aspects?) If so, wouldn’t that be no better than someone claiming to have a cure?

You can’t even cry make a cry of “misinformation” at this video, because normal people (me and Tanya for example) are incredibly UN-informed. These alternative medications which presume to threaten the formal institution of cancer research get almost no airplay in mainstream media and that’s no accident.
Unfortunately, people are getting fed up: Years of research and all you guys can offer us is radiation and chemo?
“No” you say? There are other treatments available? Well to the initiated researcher those cures might be known but for the lay-people (again, me and Tanya) you cancer researcher types don’t really have a leg to stand on when it comes to protesting alternative cures until you show & prove.

Best of Luck.


I linked this video.  Please watch it and pass it to your friends.

Jas shot back:
Jas: You know what they call alternative medicine that works? Medicine.

Then me:

Me: No. “Medicine” is the name for solutions which can be patented and sold for a profit.

The (dis)qualifier “alternative” denotes a more democratic, less profitable solution.In much the same way, solar, wind and geothermal are all “alternative” sources of energy.


Then Jas again:
Jas: Well, you’re right about wind and solar being less profitable, and wrong about “alternative” meaning the same thing in both cases.

“Medicine” is any substance or therapy that has been proven to improve patient outcome. This is why there is no such thing as proven alternative medicine because at that point it becomes medicine.The first sentence you wrote on this thread is ridiculous btw – nobody sees the hypocrisy but you. Cancer is hundreds of different diseases and we will never find a cure in our lifetime. This is obvious to anyone who’s spent a moment learning about it.


Finally, me: Nobody sees the hypocrisy but me? Story of my life…


What I was implying is that someone who gets paid to research cancer in the economic paradigm in which we live has an interest in not seeing other cures taken seriously. I don’t mean to imply that Ian is knowingly lying to anyone, but I would suggest that by being so immersed and ingratiated in any system, one would be inclined to disregard information which falls outside of the realm of approved knowledge. i.e. Einstein was probably considered crazy at first by scientific minds who had made their careers as champions of the Newtonian physics paradigm

Call it overly suspicious, but why would the heads of international cancer research give up willingly the profitable racket they have eked out for themselves by supporting a cure? Like you said, “we will never find a cure in our lifetime.” Imagine that, a perpetual source of income and access to all the research funds you could want. Damn it feels good to be a gangster.

I’m not sure where you got your definition of Medicine (a textbook or dictionary I will assume) but I mostly agree: medicine at its core should be benevolent. With regard to the appellation “alternative,” it is simply a disagreement on what constitutes alternative and we will have to agree to disagree.

I’m hurt by your last comment which implies I have never spent a moment studying cancer; I read all of your posts in their entirety.Be well


   This is where the conversation rests right now and I am not entirely certain that Jas will respond (I just posted that last bit like literally two minutes ago).  I figure once people start attacking your credentials they are preparing to bow out while maintaining the illusion of superiority.  
   Now I should say that I did relish the chance to get into an argument (I’m kind of a dick sometimes), but its not like these guys didn’t deserve a check.  Science has to be held accountable and a scientist who does not wish to have to explain himself can very easily attack his opponent’s ability to understand the esoteric concepts with which he deals.  But that in itself is an admission of failure, failure to perform his prime social responsibility as a scientist: to demystify complicated concepts and communicate his findings to the masses.  Not simply attack another voice. That shit seems mad suspicious to me.  
   As well, oh wait, more posts—
Jas: I just don’t think you understand science or the scientific method. All research on cancer is available via published articles and all hypothesis are hotly disputed until the best answer becomes the model (until a better model emerges). Ian is doing cancer RESEARCH, which simply means that he is attempting to elucidate the signalling pathway or mechanism for whichever one of hundreds of cancers he is studying and simply gain understanding. He is not directly researching a cure, or at least, not at all directly.


There is no world conspiracy to suppress knowledge of disease – no entity has that kind of reach.


Me: It sounds like you are at least trying to be more reasonable and fair here and the effort is appreciated. Perhaps if Ian had taken the same approach from the outset my spider-sense wouldn’t have tingled. But he didn’t; he flamed a video and divulged his credentials at the same time. This made it look very suspicious considering that however you look at it his livelihood right now depends on DCA not being effective. You at least see that don’t you?

And your use of the “C” word is not appreciated. Implying someone is a conspiracy theorist is like calling someone crazy. Its dismissive and attempts to invalidate their argument without refuting it. You, as a scientist, should be able to do better. I expect better from my scientists because I put all of my faith in them.Without divulging my credentials, which are modest, I will say that without having the specialized knowledge of you and Ian, I do have a knowledge of science and the scientific method, we simply have different vantage points.


I was going to write a last paragraph but I think I think this last bit of banter will suffice.  Besides, I forgot what I was going to say.  Trust, it was going to be good.  If more posts come up I will use my discretion to see if they warrant posting  and either add to this post or start a new one.  In fact I think I will link this post to the thread.
Stay Thirsty,
-Andre Guantanamo
   





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So Many Identities…

My Friends,
   Right off the bat I gotta say that leading a double-life is hard.  You might recall in a previous post (“Identity Crisis,” 21 march 2012) I discussed creating a new online identity using my actual name for the purposes of job-huntery.  The plan was not only to eschew all excesses of jackfoolery tomassery I indulge in as my rad internet self, Andre Guantanamo, but also to go to the opposite extreme and present myself to potential employers a ruthless, power-hungry opportunist all-too-ready to sell his own grandmother into prostitution for capital gain.  But alas, this endeavour proved to be too daunting; when I finally got around to making the actual profile (under my real name) I couldn’t bring myself to portray myself as the huge douche that the idea would have called for.  It is my name I would be besmirching after all…
   Then I had to add a bunch of people who were already friends with me on my original profile and they kept remarking about my “new profile” and “alter ego” on my wall.  If an employer saw this they would know something was amiss.
   Finally, I had to create a new email address for the account.  I then decided I wanted to standardize both FB accounts with gmail addresses instead of hotmail addresses cause “g” sounded slightly more professional than “hot,” so I created another gmail address for “Andre Guantanamo.”
   But since I mostly check my email on my phone during the day and its a pain in the ass to switch between two gmail accounts or two hotmail accounts I decided that one of my gmail accounts and one of my hotmail accounts would forward to a second hotmail account under my actual name which would allow me to rapidly check all my mail from my phone without re-entering passwords.
   As you can imagine I am rapidly losing track of which account is forwarding to which and which account I should be giving out as my “primary personal,” “primary business,” “secondary personal” and “secondary business.”
   This whole experience has taught me that leading a double-life is not for the faint of heart.  I have heard that a prudent man should set up a completely separate identity (email, name, business card, etc…) if he wants to successfully be adulterous.  I can’t see any vagina being worth the frustration of it all.
   Ironically, Ayn Rand, whom I had meant to quote extensively in my douchebag professional profile, had an interesting opinion on lies.  Her view was that lying is self-abdication; as soon as you lie you become the slave of the person you lied to.  All your efforts go toward maintaining the deception you have wrought.  I am feeling it now.  Its so tiresome having 2 lives.

   So instead I will have 1.5.  Let me explain: it occurred to me that while an employer may do a google search for my real name, they wouldn’t find Andre Guantanamo, I have seen to that.  However, what they do find does not have to be a Facebook profile.  Instead, I have been crafting a Linked-In profile.  Linked-In is optimized for business anyhow and its different enough from Facebook that it doesn’t constitute a double existence (its weird when FB suggests that you add your other profile as a friend because of all the friends you have in common).
   One sticking point is Twitter.  Andre Guantanamo does have a twitter account (@dreguan … follow me and I will show you truth you won’t be able to unsee) but my real self should also have a twitter account linked to my Linked-In account.  Due to twitter being much less encompassing of all aspects of a user’s life, I think this is a dual existence I can endure.
   And so ends the tale of what was to be the ultimate FB troll account.  I will close it in the next few days and if Facebook’s separation anxiety regarding closing accounts is as bad as I have heard (basically, you can never leave) I may have something else to write about in the next few days.
Stay Thirsty,
-Andre Guantanamo
 
   

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