Maybe I’m an Internet Troll?

Do you ever wonder if some long held belief you have about yourself is all wrong? Like, for example, maybe you don’t have a good fashion sense? That wearing the same pair of yoga pants and t shirt (you know, the one that says “YMCA Camp Big Elk Creek 2011″ with a hole in the underarm) doesn’t mean you’re flouting fashion trends, it just means you’ve stopped caring? Or maybe you’re not really the nice, kind person you think you are because you’ve been unable to sleep at night since you heard your old college classmate, the one everyone knew cheated on the 19th Century American Literature final (although she denied it), just published a story in The Atlantic?

Listen to me as I disrupt your blog post about dinner at Applebee's!

I’m out there, yammering on your blog.

That’s the feeling I had over the past week as I found myself getting into fights commenting on two separate blog posts. The first was over on Suffolk Scribblings, Dylan Hearn’s blog on writing and music. Dylan had written the post, “The Ten Worst Writing Tips I Received.” In my head, my comment was, “Hey, none of this is really bad advice and here’s why” but instead it must have sounded like, “OMG, how can you be such a fucking idiot as to think any of this is bad advice, you fucking moron!” because that post got 92 (yes, 92!) comments, none of which disagreed with Dylan like I did. In fact, several readers came to his defense which prompted the blogger himself to say

Karen and I have a history of disagreeing on things but I like her all the more for it. She is honest, heartfelt and can often persuade me to change my mind.

I didn’t realize that we had a history but, upon reflection, I remembered offering a few alternative opinions on his blog, most notably in discussions comparing self-publishing to traditional publishing. OK, fair enough, maybe I did have a history of disagreeing on Suffolk Scribblings.

Then along comes this post, “Pornography, Sexuality and the Empowerment of Belle Knox,” from the blog bodycrimes. Now, I most definitely do have a history of disagreeing on bodycrimes, a blog about feminism and female body image, though my disagreements are not so much with the blog’s author as with the commenters on the site. I once found myself in the bizarre position of sounding like I was defending pedophiles (I wasn’t!) in a discussion on sexual consent. So there I was this week, again disagreeing with a comment another reader had made.

I’m not sure who’s worse: those conscience-free sociopaths who state that they would have no problem if their child made that “choice” for themselves, or those who wiggle in their efforts to rationalize their support (and consumption of) porn while feeling uncomfortable with a prospect of their own child “working” in it. At the end it may not matter all that much. I don’t know any (normal*) human child (girl) who dreams of becoming a porn “star” when they grow up.

Hamburger, beef cheese burger with tomato

Conscience-free sociopaths eat cheeseburgers.

And this is what I replied.

A couple of things (I hesitated to even respond to this post, but I’m one of those “sex positive feminists (as if)” you deride, so I feel compelled).

First, I had a cheeseburger for lunch and yet I still don’t want my daughter to grow up to work the grill at McDonald’s.

It is freedom when people make decisions that *you* would not make. That’s exactly what freedom is.

I disengaged from the discussion after another commenter joined in because, appearances to the contrary, I felt that I’m not the sort of person who instigates Internet Fights. And then I started thinking, wait a minute, maybe I am that person! Why else would I get into these two different incidents in the same week?

Good grief, am I an internet troll???

In that moment, I imagined the feeling that came over me must be like what a transgender person feels when they realize they’re living in the wrong body: I felt that I was an Internet Troll trapped inside a Normal Person.

It probably goes without saying that I’m argumentative by nature. An early boyfriend broke up with me because he didn’t like to fight (I was nineteen and addicted to drama). In addition, I’ve always been outspoken and a bit of a pedant (last month I found it necessary to explain the difference between “foment” and “ferment” to a colleague) and three years of law school added the ability to argue both sides of any issue, so there’s a perfect storm fermenting fomenting inside me.

While researching this post, I went back through my recent comments on WordPress blogs. Here’s what I had to say on Sophie, She Wrote.

Very, very funny stuff :)

And on One Awkward Year.

All the trim in my house is now [painted] “Fleece.”

So maybe I’m not an internet troll. It’s not like I fight with everyone, except I do seem to keep running into people who are horribly, misguidedly, incontrovertibly wrong about everything.

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