By Chet Yarbrough
Antisocial Online Extremists, Techno-Utopians, and the Hijacking of the American Conversation
By: Andrew Marantz
Narrated by Andrew Marantz
Andrew Marantz (American author, staff writer for The New Yorker magazine)
Marantz researches social media trolls in his book “Antisocial”.
For those who are not familiar with the meaning of media trolls, they are people who use the internet to create discord by writing or saying something that is controversial.
Of course, what is said in the media does not have to be true. The difference is, the measure of success on the internet is an increase in the number of clicks one receives and the number of follower’s gob smacked by the messenger. It has zero to do with truth.
The internet lists 8 of the greatest internet trolls of all time. Their media names are irrelevant, but their followers are legion. All hide behind the rubric of a free press.
What makes internet trolls a societal cancer is their distortion of truth. Some trolls believe “buyer beware”. Like in any sale of product, the truth of speech (to a troll) is the responsibility of the individual. If a viewer or listener cannot separate the truth from fiction, that is the audience’s problem. A troll feels no compunction for lying, misleading, or stretching the truth. A committed troll argues that everyone should have the choice to believe or not believe.
Trolls argue truth is fungible because of inherent bias in the messenger. At best, trolls view their role is to mitigate corporate and government brain washing; at worst, they create a forum for massing hate and discrimination.
Say anything is the terrifying thing about social media. The irony of America’s free speech is its only defense is free speech.
Marantz interviews numerous trolls that believe all media communication is good, or at least useful communication. Marantz explains trolls argue media has historically distorted the truth.
Marantz notes the fallacy of the Troll’s argument is in the release of white supremacist and hate-filled speech that aims at changing the norms of society.
Trolls say the unsayable for wealth and notoriety; not for the betterment of humanity, or the search for truth.
White supremacy becomes a flag around which a small minority of society can join to become a political force.
The drive for wealth is nothing new in American society. However, the monetization of lies and overt discrimination are licensed by media that reaches the worst prejudices of society.
The risk to the American electorate from media trolls is that they create a disillusioned and apathetic public that doesn’t know who or what to believe.
In the book “1984” Orwell showed how media control is dangerous. Marantz shows how no control is equally dangerous; particularly in the internet era.
Marantz makes listeners realize how dangerous internet trolls are to America, and any nation trying to improve the quality of life for their citizens.
Twenty first century American democracy seems particularly at risk. Americans believe in the critical importance of freedom, but American freedom has always been qualified by rule of law in “doing no harm” to others.
The infancy of the internet needs regulation. The government must fight the hijacking of the American electorate by internet trolls. The internet is driven more by popularity and money than morality and truth.
Marantz convinces a listener that American freedom of speech is not a license for anarchy.