RIP Trolling as Social Critique

The Atlantic
RIP Trolling as Social Critique

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RIP Trolling as Social Critique

RIP trolls, anonymous Internet commenters that post nasty remarks on Facebook profiles, MySpace pages and other human personae of the deceased, claim the whole horrifying practice is a social critique on the way we live our Web lives, according to this new study by Whitney Philips. These characters see the outpouring of emotion on memorial Facebook pages as saccharine and disingenuous. "This isn’t grief," Paulie Socash, an infamous troll who went to jail for his behavior, told Philips. "This is boredom and a pathological need for attention masquerading as grief." But this commentary comes at a very large expense, offending not only the tangential friends of friends who post memorials, but also those close to the dead.

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Let's see what kind of social critiquing these trolls are doing. Here are a few examples from the Facebook memorial page of Georgia Varley, who passed away last October. Media noticed after trolls littered her Facebook with nasty comments. The page has been cleaned up since the incident. But the following trollery remained.

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These appeared below a photo of Varley as an angel on her way to heaven:

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Another photo of Varley provoked this remark:

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At the very bottom, troll Mitchell Villo leaves the trademark troll remark "lulz" at the very bottom of the page, letting the Internet know that he won. 

Socash and others say social critique. We say horrifying and offensive, This isn't to say that some sort of commentary can't and shouldn't be made about the way the Internet responds to death. But RIP trolls aren't proving any points. 

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