Trolls – those keyboard warriors who do everything from offering “helpful” suggestions and advice about endeavors they’ve never actually engaged to threatening and berating people who, for better or for worse, are out in the world actually doing stuff – they’re everywhere.
Wikipedia describes trolls thusly:
In Internet slang, a troll is a person who sows discord by starting arguments or upsetting people by posting inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages within an online community (such as a newsgroup, forum, chat room, or blog)…
Trolls occupy all places and spaces throughout the internet AND come from every single social class imaginable – from the fanciest of fancy to the most educated of educated, you can find yourself some trolls. Because when you strip away accountability, the human capacity for jerk behavior is pretty much universal.
When I first learned about this *super secret* site, it was back when I was still in grad school. The SJMR forum was a place where people could go to anonymously post updates about academic job offerings and – more significantly – movement occurring within said jobs’ hiring processes. So if, for example, you had an offer from University X but what you really wanted was a job at University Y, ideally someone with news about Job Y would post it, providing you with helpful information to make the best decision possible about Job X.
At that then-grad student stage in my life and professional development, such nonsense was far too terrifying and stressful for me to even think about, so I clicked away immediately. The forum hadn’t crossed my mind since…
For reasons that have nothing to do with me personally, I found myself reacquainted with the SJMR forum this past weekend. All these years later, it’s still a place where sociologists (people with Ph.D.s), professors (people with Ph.D.s), and graduate students (people trying to get Ph.D.s) post thoughts and discussions under dry, anonymous handles. The forum is filled with useful, professional threads about publishing, p-values, and CV polishing. But it’s also rife with juvenile, sexist, and downright asshole discussions about who’s the hottest sociologist, other sociologists’ lives outside their respective departments, and “the biggest tards in sociology.”
Now, I get it – it’s fun to talk about hotties, and sometimes we all need to blow off steam about our colleagues and peers. *HOWEVER* in a world where sociologists are supposed to be the arbiters of looking at humanity from a supposedly scientific standpoint, one that’s ideally informed by social justice and a concern for equality, I was more than a little appalled by 1) what these “scholars” were concerned with and 2) how they expressed themselves… just as soon as they could hide behind the anonymity of the interwebs.
I spent several hours down the SJMR rabbit hole, and from the vicious attacks against other sociologists (who may not be doing things perfectly, but at least were trying) to the types of downright crass and baseless discusions I’ve seen roundly dismissed publicly… well, it was like a super religious person railing against porn while having a stack of it under their bed.
I came away from this experience with only one real conclusion – that academics and scholars are no different from everyone else (which I already knew). Take away accountability and even the most lofty-seeming among us are really just a bunch of trolling fkkks.
Gross. Hypocrites. #fail
To wit, I challenge every one of you spineless jerks to start voicing your opinions in conjunction with your real name. Until then, the only “tards” worth discussing are yourselves.
Chauntelle Anne Tibbals, Ph.D.*
*not a pseudonym
(pictured: this is what you get when you Google “troll”)
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