Troll, Troll, Troll your boat.
If you’re a follower of Mike Freeman on twitter, you’ve heard that phrase before. This morning Freeman tweeted out a link to a story by a Dublin man named Leo Traynor. Mr. Traynor tells his tale of being on twitter, being harassed and threatened, first online and then at his house. It was a chilling tale, a real tale.
In the end Mr. Traynor was able to track down his troll and confront him. When asked why, the Troll replies, “it was like a game thing…”
Internet bullying is a game.
After the debacle a week ago Monday, many Packer players took to twitter to vent their frustration. Now internet famous, Packers guard, T.J. Lang broke a twitter record for most retweeted tweet and gained over 90,000 followers with his postgame tweets.
The game is over. The team has moved on. But twitter has not. A quick look into Lang’s timeline and mentions and one can find comments that range from friendly jabs to hate speech.
What crosses the line? Is a fan calling Lang a douchebag okay? How about one who says, “Discount double check is for queers #allpackerfans”?
And what about the responses? To the douchbag comment, Lang makes a funny jab back, “you spelled badass wrong.” Yet to someone who said the Packers got owned by the Seahawks, Lang makes a comment about the person’s weight and seems to mock lesbians.
And it is not just Lang or the Packers. Search any player after a loss or bad play, almost a sure bet that there will be one or two “Trolls” commenting away. Some funny, some dumb. Some harmless, some rage filled. Players have received threats; their family members have received harassing tweets all because of a game.
When did frustration over a game turn into vile for a person family? When did it turn into seeking out people to harass them? When did differing opinions turn into sending mail, finding out home addresses? When did it mean, even 8 days after the game and tweets, people still need to continue the conversation?
Football is just a game.
This morning T.J. Lang tweeted the following:
So far his mentions have been filled with kind words, prayers, condolences. The good of the social age we live in. And yet, at some point, there will be the inevitable troll who takes a tragedy and plays with it.
Internet bullying is just a game.
Last Sunday, I sat at my computer and watched a group of people, some that I had met and some that I may never meet tailgate for the Packers versus Saints game. The bonds that we can build over the internet can be real and life changing. I wouldn’t be here, writing this now, if it weren’t for twitter. If it weren’t for making random connections, Throwback Weekend would never have existed.
And yet, these connections, this forum to say whatever we want, to whomever we choose, can also be used as a weapon. From name calling, to bullying someone off of twitter, to sending ashes to someone’s house.
Football is just a game and so apparently is internet bullying.
Jayme Joers is a writer at CheeseheadTV’s Eat More Cheese and co-host of CheeseheadRadio. She also contributes to Pocketdoppler.com and brentfavre.com. You can contact her via twitter at @jaymelee1 or email at Jaymelee1@gmail.com.