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#1 Edited by GravityProof (298 posts) -

 Confessions of a Troll: A short essay about why I'm quitting the Internet. 

 They say you know you’re an alcoholic when you try to go a week without drinking just to prove you can. When I caught myself doing the same thing with the Internet, I knew it was time to quit. I should clarify that, when I’m talking about quitting the Internet, I don’t mean I’m going stop using G-mail, NYTimes, or Amazon - the sites for people who use the Internet. I’m talking about message boards, forums, and any site with a community focus - the sites for Internet users

It’s easy and maybe a little trite to the draw a comparison between Internet use and addiction. I lived with an alcoholic for 12 years, and I’ve seen first hand that it’s a debilitating disease. This isn’t that, but like alcohol, unhealthy use of the Internet has had a number of adverse effects on my life.

I’m paraphrasing here, but I remember reading about some philosopher who said, “The biggest challenge we face as individuals is to realize that other people are the protagonists in their own stories and not just supporting characters in ours.” I try to be mindful of this and act in an according manner, but I find it almost impossible to do online.

The reason I find it so difficult is because I feel what happens on the Internet has no connection to real-life. When I connect to an online community it’s like I’m an actor playing a better (or worse) version of myself, and I usually think that other people are doing the same. Whenever I read about some kid who just overdosed on Benadryl and Listerine or some guy who pulled the perfect prank on his co-workers by sneaking dog shit into their PC towers I’m always suspicious that it’s just some second semester sociology student conducting an incredibly contrived social experiment. What’s the incentive to keep honest when you get to be your own biographer and everyone has to take you at your word? That’s the Internet to me - just a bunch of nobodies playing pretend.

I don’t think it’s healthy to interact with people this way, and I do way too much of it. I know how arrogant, self-serving, and insecure it all sounds (and you could argue that I embody those characteristics), but from the first time I joined a forum I never missed a chance to try and prove I was smarter than somebody else. I used to troll for sport, but now I don’t even enjoy it. The other day I spent an hour arguing with some guy over the definition of ‘illegal’. I should have stopped when he tried to tell me that the dictionary was subjective, but I didn’t. I’m not a morose person, but I can list the things that make me truly happy on one hand and having a moronic argument with a faceless cretin isn’t one of them. After one of these e-arguments, I always come away angry and frustrated and I carry it over into my real life, the one where I interact with real humans and try to do the things that make me happy.

I could go on, but this is already so long that most people won’t read it. I guess I’ll just end this by saying that I know there’s a lot of goodness and generosity out there on the net, and I don’t mean to disparage any of it, but it might be good if we all took a minute to look at how we’re using the internet and what it really brings into our lives. Are the connections that you’re making online actually meaningful and/or honest? Does spending time online really make you happy? I’m not trying to say one way or the other, but for me at least, the Internet really is like alcohol - it’s possible to have a healthy relationship with it, but I’d probably be better off if I used it less.

(P.S. I’m curious to see what, if any, response this will get. I’ll check back on this post for the next few hours, and then begin closing my accounts. So long and thanks for all the gifs!)

TL;DR – Maybe don’t be a troll, or whatever.

Avatar image for mutha3
#2 Posted by mutha3 (5052 posts) -

no one cares

Avatar image for intro
#3 Posted by intro (1276 posts) -

The title ends with "why im quitting the..."

I thought this thread would just say "game."

Avatar image for handsomedead
#4 Posted by HandsomeDead (11853 posts) -
@mutha3 said:
no one cares
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#5 Posted by TaliciaDragonsong (8734 posts) -

Thanks for the write up, t'was a nice read.
Have fun out there.

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#6 Posted by Saethir (377 posts) -

@CaLe said:

Like my profile says: I'm always serious because life is too short to not always be serious. Thank you.

Why so serious?

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#7 Posted by PeasantAbuse (5098 posts) -

Good read. 
I hate the internet so I don't even know why I'm still here.

Avatar image for colin
#8 Posted by Colin (709 posts) -
@PeasantAbuse:  Because... porn?
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#9 Posted by Wraxend (616 posts) -

Alcoholism isn't a disease ... oh god I'm trying to prove how smart I am, CURSE you internet!!!

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#10 Posted by WickedCestus (3781 posts) -

If you know who to ignore, the internet is fucking awesome. Especially Giant Bomb. 

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#11 Posted by Tim_the_Corsair (3053 posts) -

I'd suggest just being yourself online and remaining low-key and away from arguments, but your life.

I'm fascinated by this idea of playing a character online, either being a hero or being a villain, and I just have never understood the appeal. I've gone fir a beer several times with guys I've met online, and the one comment I've always gotten is that I'm "exactly the same dude", for good or for worse.

If I want to pretend to be someone else, I play an RPG. I'd be curious to see if you had any additional comments on why you got so wrapped up in it.

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#12 Edited by PeasantAbuse (5098 posts) -
@Colin said:

@PeasantAbuse:  Because... porn?

I meant the internet as in forums and communities like the OP said.  I haven't felt the need to join any porno message boards yet. 
@Wraxend: I'm pretty sure most addictions are actually classified as diseases. I could be wrong though.
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#13 Posted by manicraider (148 posts) -

I understand just how you feel. Not for the same exact reasons but definition for being addicted to the internet when there's no much more I could be doing with my time. I'll quit when I'm strong enough not to want to come crawling back.

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#14 Posted by MrKlorox (11176 posts) -

@HandsomeDead said:

@mutha3 said:
no one cares

Oh, you're so hip.

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#15 Edited by louiedog (2391 posts) -

The idea of trolling seems to utterly worthless to me. I also don't understand why people will feed trolls. If you're arguing with someone online give them just 3 or so posts for the argument to advance beyond where it was at the first post. If it doesn't you have to admit that either A) you're both unwilling to budge on the issue B) one of you is too stupid to understand the other's argument or C) the other person is trolling. It doesn't matter which it is, but at that point you need to just bow out and move on with your life. It's just not worth continuing and nothing good will come from trying.

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#16 Posted by James_ex_machina (1067 posts) -

Trolling is a disease. My doctor diagnosed me with Restless Trolling Syndrome so it's real!

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#17 Edited by Dunchad (752 posts) -

Not a bad idea. Hope it works for you.

I rarely take part in arguments and when I do, I'll just say my piece and let it go - I don't feel the need to educate others or convert them into my way of thinking. So internet is fairly relaxing experience for me - I'm a leecher. I suck up all the enjoyment that's available and contribute almost nothing back.

Sometimes some discussions might irritate me enough so that I write a wall of text - and then don't post it. Because at that point I'll have sorted out my thoughts/feelings about the issue and realized that I don't really care enough to click the 'Post Reply' button - then I just go on my merry way and watch some more entertaining videos.

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#18 Posted by KarlPilkington (2824 posts) -

Oh internet, you.

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#19 Posted by Subjugation (4993 posts) -

@Intro said:

The title ends with "why im quitting the..."

I thought this thread would just say "game."

Same thought.

GL;HB duder.

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#20 Posted by Origina1Penguin (3527 posts) -

You'll be back. Just when you think you're out, it pulls you back in.

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#21 Posted by nintendoeats (6222 posts) -

I have often thought along these lines. Unfortunately, I don't know any people who like video games as much as I do. So here I shall stay.

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#22 Posted by Brendan (9215 posts) -

I'm just myself. You'd have to be pretty insecure to need to free yourself of, well, yourself.

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#23 Posted by Rawrnosaurous (811 posts) -

Wait, who are you and why do I care? 
The internet is a great place to hangout you know unless you want to be a giant cock to everyone. Then i can see why you feel as though the internet is bad. Cause your a giant cock!

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#24 Posted by TheDudeOfGaming (6116 posts) -

Are you trolling now? Or are you serious?

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#25 Posted by crusader8463 (14797 posts) -

When one falls a dozen will come up to take it's place.

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#26 Posted by dudeglove (13751 posts) -

If this is the OP's idea of trolling, he needs to go back to troll school. Not even any mention of girl advice.

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#27 Posted by StaticFalconar (4918 posts) -
@GravityProof said:

 They say you know you’re an alcoholic when you try to go a week without drinking just to prove you can. 

No, you're an alcoholic if you go through Delirium Tremens without alcohol. 
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#28 Posted by allworkandlowpay (928 posts) -

@CaLe said:

@Saethir said:

@CaLe said:

Like my profile says: I'm always serious because life is too short to not always be serious. Thank you.

Why so serious?

Because life is too short to not always be serious. Thank you.

Life's too short to always be serious.

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#29 Posted by Ketchupp (707 posts) -


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#30 Edited by JJWeatherman (15101 posts) -

Interesting. I actually felt, well, similarly just recently. I haven't ever considered myself a troll, and I can appreciate the genuine people behind the avatars, but sometimes like you said, it just becomes an addiction. It feels like you're doing the same thing every day. Not because it's fun, but out of habit almost. At least that's how I felt. I was constantly finding myself angry just doing simple things like reading tweets or skimming threads here on Giant Bomb. That obviously wasn't healthy. I took a break for several days though and I found that to be pretty refreshing. I hope you haven't deleted ALL of your accounts, because that's something you may regret.

Are the connections that you’re making online actually meaningful and/or honest? Does spending time online really make you happy?

I'd say in general that yes, the internet has made me happier. I've had a lot of fun using sites like Giant Bomb, and even--somewhat surprisingly--met some great friends. There are negative aspects of the internet, but overall, I enjoy being a member of a cool community, like this one for example. Do what you've gotta do though, man. Good luck with everything post-internet. I hope you're happier. :)

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#31 Posted by JoyfullOFrockets (1206 posts) -

I find it hard to take the Internet seriously when I can't even do so with real life.
Sure, life is short, but can't that mean it's short enough that you can't take seriously?
Whatever. Just go with your groove/flow & etc.

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#32 Posted by Winger (157 posts) -

At first I thought I thought you were secretly that dude posing as a 10 year old Xbox fanboy who can't type correctly.

I read it and I agree completely, I generally act like a dick to anything that ticks me off because you're free to do so, and in an argument there is usually no meeting in the point you're making, everything stays one sided.

It's a waste of time if i'm not going to actually come to know some of you and instead every now and then give a little help and then diss some dude for making a street fighter video.

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#33 Posted by JBird (582 posts) -

The people writing "No one cares" are the exact reason why the internet sucks. Although it also sounds like you were one of the people that made the internet suck!, so I'm really glad that you've got some perspective! I'm sure this will work out really well for you and when you come back I look forward to speaking with you.

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#34 Posted by KillyDarko (1991 posts) -
@Saethir said:

@CaLe said:

Like my profile says: I'm always serious because life is too short to not always be serious. Thank you.

Why so serious?

I think the answer to your question is staring at you right above your question.
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#35 Posted by McGhee (6128 posts) -

I actually pretty much agree with you. So am I giving up the internet? HEEEELLL NO.

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#36 Posted by HandsomeDead (11853 posts) -
@MrKlorox said:

@HandsomeDead said:

@mutha3 said:
no one cares

Oh, you're so hip.

I'm so 3008, you're so 2000 and late.
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#37 Edited by Zabant (1544 posts) -

I only feel the urge to act like a human being in places like facebook where my name and face are tied to what I say, because I know people will also do so in kind. Anywhere else and it's a motto of "Everyone is an asshole on the internet, expect the worst of people and give no quarter"

This rule applies even more when dealing with gaming communities.

Edit: Dont get me wrong, this isn't what I want, i'm all for a tron style future internet where people are responsible for their actions and what they say. It's just not going to happen soon.

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#38 Edited by k9 (692 posts) -

I once used to think that the step to making internet less hostile is to make it more immersive so that people don't use anonymity given by internet to spew out any garbage that pops up in their psyche. But over the years I have come to realize that making internet less anonymous would make it less hostile, but it would not eradicate the problem. "Trolls" have existed since the beginning of humanity but its the democratization of internet that allows them to be so much louder and visible than how they are in real life.

People who willfully make provocative remarks exist offline, but most don't get to have a platform where some kind of audience listens to them. But on internet, where every user is equal, not only you get to barf nonsense but you get reinforced for your negative remarks because many people can't help but respond to emotionally salient language. When everyone is on an equal standing, the quality of dialogue is not mediated by the smartest but the person stimulating lowest common denominator, our emotions. This is true of politics, sciences, and of course, internet boards and chat rooms.

I think we have to teach people on how to identify and ignore these sort of individuals if a particular community is interested in keeping its quality of discourse high. One way to identify these sorts of people is through their unusually high post count. There is no way a person can post dozens, if not hundreds, of messages daily on a board without most of his/her remarks being nonsense. This is not a law where high post count = troll, but a useful heuristic.

Another way is to educate yourself on being able to identify logical fallacies. By that I don't even mean take a college level course on logic 101 but just make yourself familiar to most common informal logical fallacies.

(Fallacies of relevance)

1. Appeal to force: Threatening in order to win an argument

2. Appeal to pity: Eliciting pity in order to win an argument

3. Appeal to the people: Eliciting mob mentality. Appealing to listener’s desire for security, respect

4. Argument against the person: Verbally abusing your opponent. Showing that arguer is a hypocrite

5. Accident: General rule applied to a specific case it was not intended to cover

6. Straw man: Distorts the opponent’s argument and then attacks the distorted argument

7. Missing the point: Draws conclusion different from one supported by premises

8. Red Herring: Leading listener off track

(Fallacies of weak induction)

1. Appeal to unqualified authority: Citing untrustworthy authority

2. Appeal to ignorance: Nothing is known or proved, then draw a conclusion

3. Hasty generalization: Conclusion drawn from an atypical example

4. False cause: Conclusion depends on nonexistent or minor causal connection

5. Slippery slope: Conclusion depends on unlikely chain reaction

6. Weak analogy: Conclusion depends on defective analogy

(Fallacies of presumption)

1. Begging the question: Creating the illusion that inadequate premises are adequate by leaving out a key premise, restating the conclusion as a premise, reasoning in circle

2. Complex question: Multiple questions concealed as a single question

3. False dichotomy: Either or statements that hides additional alternatives

4. Suppressed evidence: Arguer ignores important evidence that requires a different conclusion

(Fallacies of ambiguity)

1. Equivocation: Conclusion depends on a shift in meaning of a word or phrase

2. Amphiboly: Conclusion depends on the wrong interpretation of a syntactically ambiguous statement

(Fallacies of grammatical analogy)

1. Composition: Attribute is wrong transferred from parts to whole

2. Division: Attribute is wrongly transferred from whole to parts

Memorizing a list like this will take hours, at best. And as soon as you see someone making a logical fallacy, point it to him/her. If the person responds by making an emotional remark, just move on. Having some sort of discourse or conversation is no longer within the realm of possibility. Simply ignore his/her remarks.

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#39 Posted by theguy (828 posts) -
@Origina1Penguin said:

You'll be back. Just when you think you're out, it pulls you back in.

Internet... Internet never changes.
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#40 Posted by apoptosis61 (568 posts) -


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#41 Posted by Ksaw (363 posts) -

Typically the only way to win an argument on the internet is by not participating. So yeah, I think you've got the right idea.

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#42 Posted by Cwaff (1317 posts) -

@theguy said:

@Origina1Penguin said:

You'll be back. Just when you think you're out, it pulls you back in.

Internet... Internet never changes.

Or has it changed?

Avatar image for deactivated-5a00c029ab7c1
#43 Posted by deactivated-5a00c029ab7c1 (1777 posts) -

Quitting the internet is impossible it will find you eventually or you will get the shakes and be back.

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#44 Posted by TotalEklypse (982 posts) -

Inability to control one's actions or fall into the addiction category just screams weak minded to me. Not disease.
I got bored half way..maybe less... through the article. Just sounds like web emo to me. Just promise not to start cutting yourself with old floppy disc innards.  
To actually ad something to the discussion I would like to point out that humans are social animals, forums and the internet being a way to interact with other humans (term used loosely) .. So an enjoyment of those interactions is normal and healthy depending on the kind you take part in. You chose to be a dipshit or a troll and now seem to want our sympathies for why you don't enjoy it anymore.   

No Caption Provided
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#45 Edited by mnzy (3037 posts) -

I feel the same way somehow, I even tried to stop, BUT:
There is no way you'll find people that share your interest as certain communities online do. That's my problem. I have friends, I like them, but they barely share my interests. And that really sucks.
I don't want to stop playing crazy games or listen to foreign music and I don't want to not discuss them. 
The internet will probably stay the only place where I can do that.
edit: Oh and I hope you realise the irony of making a thread about it.

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#46 Posted by cribbel1 (73 posts) -

Internet is bigger than that..  I do troll in real life, when im in the bar for example. And i got beat up for doing it to.. Thats why forum is a better place. Why? well because people can say whaterver whenever they want. The only thing you can get is angry and hatefull och glad or what not.. But its only stories words thoughts from someone somewhere.. Dont be so fucking serious about things its not youre way of thinking its someone elses. And thats a great thing that anyone can express that without being knockeddown or threathed for speaking there mind on a bus. With all the politicians trying to put laws on the internet to silence people this is wrong.. Especally to stop hanging out on forums and to be anonymous. More people should be doing it instead of using Facebook.. or as i would say facadebook.  
But yes, its probobly an good idea to interact with real life (if you feel you lack it). But seriously Internet is the way we live, its a new world a smaller world. with no real rules and borders.. google translate its a great instument to explore the web .  
PS. Internet  Is not an addiction its just a part of the new real life