Urban Dictionary defines trolling as “typically unleashing one or more cynical or sarcastic remark on an innocent bystander, because it’s the Internet and, hey, you can.”
The anonymous nature of the Internet provides people with a sense of power and excitement so they choose to “troll” a friend or, more likely, a stranger.
I bring this up because recently, U of T administration was made aware of some threats against feminists written on a public blog. This resulted in the school increasing security on all three campuses. Some classes were even cancelled. Have we taken this threat too far?
As a person who’s been using the Internet from an early age, I have seen “trolls” at work on almost every website you can think of. A simple YouTube video can create an entire web of more than 50 people angrily replying to a troll post. Futile death threats over the Internet, in my opinion, are actually pretty normal.
But as we talk about the situation at U of T, I think we’re taking a good course of action. As I researched about the threats, I saw the following post: “Next week when a feminist at the University of Toronto tries to ruin your life with false sex rape allegations, rent a gun from a gang and start firing bullets into these feminists at your nearest women’s studies classroom”.
Just reading this makes me cringe. The comments encourage violence without remorse. I feel that the university is currently taking the right course of action; after all, your life should be worth more than your mark in a class. This type of trolling affects the entire university community even though it’s targeted to one specific demographic. The university’s actions tell us where it stands on issues like online harassment and misogyny.
As students, we have to have a balance. We can’t take threats like this too seriously. We shouldn’t live in fear; that’s what the people behind these threats want. It’s why they chose to write these comments in such a public place. That being said, we should be careful and take the necessary precautions. Trolling can be fun, but it should never be taken so far as to threaten the safety of a particular person or group. If the post can affect almost an entire university in a very violent and harsh way, then you have crossed a line.