Cruising with it now. This is generally the thought process:
- See preposterous flamebait argument posted somewhere;
- Immediately think of solid rebuttals;
- Think them through to their conclusions;
- Remember that it doesn’t matter and think about something else.
It’s quite liberating.
Anyway, I was going to talk about the channels.nl forum today and it seems apt because it has an unusually high ratio of trolls to ordinary posters and it represents, I think, the moribund state of phpbb and similar thread-based boards in the second decade of the 21st century. It’s atypical because it seems to represent the far end of the demographic bell curve of static messageboards: the average age of its users is undoubtedly higher than the internet average, its subject matter is a city that has historically been a haven for the controversial, a fountain of unconventional ideas but which is now hardening in its attitudes and is prey to the same (neo)conservative forces that have overtaken Europe and the world in the last couple of decades. Its subject and selling point is that it’s a resource for information about Amsterdam.
Or rather, it once was.
The board seems to have become the property of assorted trolls and tinpot political extremists (it even has its own resident Jesus who drops in now and again) and only occasionally fields questions about Amsterdam. Go there now and compare the number of posts in the politics and bar forum with the number of posts in the Amsterdam, RLD and coffeeshop fora. Go on. have a look; I’ll wait. remember that the Bar section is relatively new. It’s an unusualy week where there are five genuine queries posted there, and almost all of them are answered by the same two or three posters.
The board is prime trolling territory for several reasons. Firstly, it’s a phpbb board which makes it accessible to people who don’t really ‘get’ Google Plus or Twitter and it’s as anonymous as the user wants to make it, so none of your ripe political comments or tawdry, crackpot theories are going to make t back to your ‘real’* friends.
Secondly, the readership is – or was – relatively diverse. Amsterdam attracts all kinds: sightseers, older people on a canal-boat-and-tulips orgy, sex tourists, stoners, political activists with faith in Amsterdam to again become what it once was: a borderline-chaotic mixture of ideas and types where virtually anything goes. One result of this is that it’s not uncommon to find hardcore stoners who support the Republican Party, a party dedicated to eradicating all forms of enjoyment of which it does not approve. And yes, I know that the Dems, and almost every other world government, do it too, but no-one but Nixon invented the War on Drugs.
It was the Channels forum that initially led to my treaty with the net. Containing a self confessed ‘racist and proud’ bigot-homophobe, several Republican stoners, a couple of Wall Street shills and a man so confused by language that he doesn’t know what a question mark is, it was always going to be prime flaming territory.
*as real as Fakebook friends get anyway.