Trolls Derailing Trains of Thought


(An expansion of some thoughts I had a few years ago.)

There is a troubling phenomenon, familiar to many of us, that recurs frequently in internet discussions (although it’s by no means unique to them: I’ve experienced a similar one in a classroom setting as well, as I will discuss below), where an individual will make a disruptive, discordant comment on a text (of whatever length, from paragraph to blog entry to journalism article to academic paper) wherein they studiously ignore the content of the text, in order to express what is quite apparently one of his or her pet peeves, which often and usually has, at best, tangential relevance to the subject matter.

Often it seems that it’s the presence of certain trigger words in the text (or better yet, in the abstract of, preface to, or reposter’s comment on the text, so that the disruptor need not have…

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About kaimuse

Kai Matthews is a musician, composer, and philosopher-in-training (with degrees in both fields, to the extent that that means anything.) As a 12th-generation American and 8th-generation Canadian, but born as an ex-pat in Germany and feeling more European in outlook, he feels at once both a deep rootedness in and a critical reserve toward his culture. He feels most comfortable being a little out of his milieu - that is, being uncomfortable and challenged. He's a cisgendered hetero white boy who's lived in a gay neighbourhood in San Francisco, and is a middle-class WASPy anglophone living in a poor, multi-cultural immigrant 'hood where most people's first language is neither French nor English. He was a rock and roll hippie getting a classical composition degree at a jazz school, and is a perpetual beginner student of North Indian classical music, in which his Western training is less help than hindrance. In philosophy, he naïvely wonders why the perpetually feuding analytic and Continental traditions can't just get along...

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