Griefers and Misinformation and Disinformation
In normal social interaction we need to give each other a lot of slack when we disagree.
By slack I mean we need to assume that the people we are interacting with are honest and well informed and that people of good hearts can disagree even when they share the same information.
So we can negotiate the disagreement without thinking the other is 'bad'.
Often easier said than done, I know.
Online communication has been a big part of my world since the early 1990s. I was online using the Fidonet for a couple of years before I had internet access.
Fidonet was based on sending a message to a local online bulletin board and then the message would be propagated from board to board using only local calls (mostly - I think there were ham radio links too) all over the world. The conversation on Fidonet was interesting and polite.
As soon as I could I got an account with a company that gave me a connection to the internet.
This was before there was a world wide web. Basically you used ftp to log into computers around the world and browse the files that were there.
This lead to email, which is software specialized for sending messages, that uses ftp in the background.
Email enabled a new thing - mailing lists. These were computers that you could send a message to that would distribute the message to all of the list subscribers.
And mailing lists enabled newsgroups which was software that enable conversation about particular topics.
Right away with newsgroups I found their were griefers and a lot of misinformation and disinformation.
Along comes Facebook and Twitter and Second Life et al.
The problem of griefers and misinformation and disinformation seemed to expand exponentially. These are similar in that they are malign behaviors but are different from each other.
For me a griefer is one who uses hurtful speech (in the name of freedom of speech) to drive other people from a conversation. Griefers can be cunning and a pest, but they are a bit dumb. They're like: "As soon as we kill all the animals we'll force them to tell us where the money is hid" (actual graffiti on artschool toilet wall:-)
They assert First Amendment rights in a place (like Thothica or Double Happiness) where those rights don't exist.
Owners of private property are entitled to remove guests who displease them. In SL they just go poof.
Misinformation is information that seems plausible but is false.
Anti-vaxxers provide a current example.
The old creation scientists were an earlier one.
Vaccination has been known to be effective and safe for a long time and has eradicated many diseases. But you need a basic understanding of how the immune system works to get it. It's not something you can see at work. You need to take a lot of that knowledge about the immune system on authority. And without that knowledge the narrative can seem to be magical.
And if you believe in magic then all sorts of magical things are possible; like vaccination causes autism, or magnetizes people, or contains microchips that let the government control your mind.
But I'm prone to misinformation too.
There is war in Ukraine now, a Russian invasion. That is bad enough.
Stories emerge of Russian atrocities.
Not only murdering civilians, but things like getting drunk on stolen liquor and going on rampages of rape and looting.
I must admit I don't like Russia as a country at all.
So I'm predisposed to accept stories like that.
And I know from past wars that similar stories of atrocities have turned out to be untrue.
Disinformation is a different thing again.
Disinformation has two mutually reinforcing aspects.
First somebody speaks some sort of big lie that they know is untrue but they don't care about that. What they need to do is please their 'base'.
Then there is the 'base' - smirking people who delight in sticking it to the man.
With disinformation we get a symbiotic system that combines griefers with misinformation.
So we get an Alex Jones who makes his living spinning false stories about how the mass shooting at Sandy Hook didn't happen.
And he plays to a base that delights in being told that the government is stealing their rights and that everything the government and mainstream media says is a lie.
And of course we get Trump and his deplorable base.
Disinformation works in a way. Trump has raised over $100 million based on it.
I think these problems may fade over time due to internal contradictions.
For instance - griefers are not a problem now in SL because people learned to make them go poof Trump's deplorable base is getting a lot of shit now from the rest of society - literally going to jail for following Trump.
I'd bet they are doing their best to hide their membership in his cult from friends, family, and employer so they may just disappear from the scene.
And in the long run, as Voltaire once said: good ideas inevitably drive out the bad ones in the court of educated opinion. And really - the deplorables are a small minority and their misinformed ideas won't last.
What do you think?