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Pepe Lepew On November - 23 - 2009

547px-Transcription_using_cylinder_phonograph

Why do we blog?

Nothing very political in this post. I’ve given a lot of thought the last few weeks about why I blog, about why many of us blog, about what we are looking for, what we’re hoping to accomplish.

Here’s how I personally got started in it. I started blogging a few years ago. I lost my dad to lung cancer when I was a kid, and my mom suffers today from COPD. I grew up with asthma and chronic bronchitis — all the result of their heavy cigarette smoking. After my mom was hospitalized a few years ago for the umpteenth time with pneumonia, I was deeply depressed about it; about all the damage I had seen tobacco do to my family. So, I started up a blog … about how much I hate tobacco and how much I hate the industry. It was very cathartic.

Well, that blog is still around. I don’t update it as much as I used to, maybe a couple of times a month, but that modest blog turned into so many things I never expected it to. I personally raised more than $1,000 this year for the Lung Association. I get lots of newsletters about tobacco issues from other advocates around the country and have spoken to well-known authors who have exposed the industry’s lies. I became addicted to learning more information about the issue and consider myself now a “lay expert” in tobacco and smoking issues. There have been massive changes to smoking and tobacco laws and regulation over the past five years, and of course, I’m not egocentric enough to think that I effected those changes, but I like to think I was involved. I was definitely in the midst of it.

So, that drifted into Topix blogging, which is incredibly counterproductive and oughta be renamed “Toxic.” It’s really ugly.

So, during the 2006 election, I drifted into HuffPost. I really liked it a lot at first. I was heavily invested in the election of Jon Tester and that was a special night when he and Jim Webb won.

I drifted away from HuffPost, mostly because an old computer of mine couldn’t handle the new forum format, but I started coming back this spring after I got a new computer. Of course, one of the big changes I noted from the old days was the prevalence of the trolls in the forums. There had always been trolls (I seem to remember an old one called “Angry Vietnam Vet”), but never like this.

But, there were also a lot of smart, nice people, too. Not real friends, of course, but the comfort of typing with friendly people is real. I started realizing that many times I was learning much more from the posters than the actual articles. For instance, 9 or 10 months ago, I honestly wasn’t clear on the difference between “public option” and “single payer.” Reading the forums made it clear to me the distinct differences between the two. I see so many smart and talented people with so much knowledge to share and I feel honored to be accepted by them because sometimes I don’t think I’m that smart.

Well, since then, the “trollology” of HuffPost has gotten even worse. The bannings, the “timeouts” (I’m currently serving one), the never-ending nastiness gets to me sometimes.

But, I have a confession to make. I actually enjoy tangling with the trolls sometimes. I get caught up in “going monkeyshit on their asses” so to speak. And what scares me is that I’m actually pretty good at it. I’m good at pretending I’m crazy. This isn’t me. I’m not that angry driver on the highway honking his horn and flipping people off for going 5 miles an hour under the speed limit.

And I absolutely know why. There’s no mystery to it. Because I really, really hate bullies. I really see trolls as the online equivalent of schoolyard bullies and I want to “get them.” They literally make me a little crazy. The old 5-foot-8, 165-pound hockey player who had to act “a little crazy” to play against goons 80 pounds heavier than me takes over.

Of course, I realize it’s utterly silly. I’m not stupid. The blogosphere is not the real world. Of course there are real people at those keyboards with real feelings, but trolls aren’t real. They’re actors. They’re playing a role. Maybe they’re paid, maybe they work for HuffPost, maybe they just get off on making people mad, who knows? It’s not important. I’ve become increasingly convinced that HuffPost is infested with a handful of trolls, using multiple sock puppets to look and sound like more people, with countless other minor trolls buzzing around. I’ve seen the “patterns in the chaos,” so to speak. One troll leaves, another one enters. It’s consistent. It’s all a game. A part of me is fascinated by it all. By the psychology of what drives these people. I’ve actually read articles on the psychology of trolls. I’m weirdly fascinated by what their objectives are. Attention? To undercut others’ morale? A paycheck? It’s unhealthy, whatever it is.

Then again, I find crazy people you bump into in the street or at the bar fascinating. I’m drawn to divergent personalities.

Ultimately, what I have discovered, however, is that if you attack the trolls, it’s futile – as much sick fun as it might be. Even if you blow one up, two will simply take their place. They are a permanent fixture of HuffPost now. I see the abject futility in that. I honestly do. And not what I started out to do when I began blogging, that’s for sure. Like someone here said, it’s just Internet paint ball.

So maybe I go looking for other places in the Internet Wilderness to drift to … friendlier places and more thought-provoking places.

Categories: Featured, News & Politics

131 Responses so far.

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  1. escribacat says:

    Adlib, I think that old bug is back, where if you click on a comment from the right pane and the comment is in the Older Comments section, clicking the link doesn’t bring you to the comment.

  2. kesmarn says:

    nellie, I wouldn’t presume to speak for Pepe, but I love this image. In a former era, as a child, I worked with a diabolical machine called an addressograph. It looked something like this thing. Given the choice of the rack, the iron maiden or the addressograph, I think I would choose anything but the latter.

    This graphic reminds me of how good it feels NOT to be there.

  3. nellie says:

    Note: Pepe, I changed the image because I was having trouble uploading this link to facebook. (That application has been having some major problems lately.) I hope you like this one — I think I prefer it to the keyboard. If you have another preference, just let me know. :-)

  4. bitohistory says:

    For anyone tempted to go to HuffPo and vent your anger, may I offer you an alternative. Read this post on “Poverty- Remembering those Less Fortunate” @ http://pr.thinkprogress.org/

    Then go to Bill Moyers Journal and watch “Lessons on a Quagmire” @
    http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/index-flash.html

    Then come back here and share your thoughts on your Thanksgiving and the situation in Afghanistan.

  5. javaz says:

    What a thoughtful piece, Pepe.

    PPOV has become the only site that I enjoy blogging, but I do visit other sites and read comments from the right, left, the UK, and everywhere in between.

    With our media as it is, which imho, is not very trustworthy, I feel that I get a better idea of what is really going by reading people’s insights into stories.
    I’ve learned a lot from bloggers and it’s a good way to gain an understanding of what Americans are feeling and what others from around the world are feeling towards their governments and ours.

    Hope you have a safe journey, Pepe and a very Happy Thanksgiving to you!

    • kesmarn says:

      Safe journey, to Pepe!

      And--OT, I know--to javaz: so glad to see your name again. Missed you for a day or two there, and I was very much hoping you hadn’t been “run off.” I always enjoy your contributions.

  6. PepeLepew says:

    Well, I really should go. We have to catch a plane in (sheesh) 6 hours and 20 minutes. Gahh, what idiot books a 6 a.m. flight?
    … Oh, wait…
    I will be back in a week.

  7. PatsyT says:

    Pepe,

    So glad you put this together, I can truly relate.
    I did not have Parents, I had Smoke Stacks.
    Tarytons, ugh, anyone remember “I’d rather fight then switch”
    I am convinced that my parents would be alive today if not for the smoking.
    They would be able to see how wonderful their grandchildren are becoming.
    Once, out of the blue, my youngest burst into tears saying, “I don’t have any grandmas or grandpas”
    You just can’t have any good answer to that because you want to cry yourself.

    It is interesting to hear about what brought you and others to blogging.
    A little over a year ago, I started on HP with Obama and Prop 8 in California, it was exciting.
    I had been reading HP and other sites for sometime and always looked forward to the comments.
    The Comments were so FUNNY!
    So much raw truth and humor came across with such an economy of words.
    I used to wonder if some of the posters were out of work writers.
    Also, it was helpful to find so many interesting links.
    Then Healthcare started cooking, my big issue.
    I think I learned more from the comments them the original posted story.
    When dems started getting resistant to healthcare reform.
    I wanted to scream
    I kept posting links to Natalie Sarkisyan story
    and saying-TELL THE STORIES.
    I hope it helped.

    Well, I have seen the increase of these troll types, but now they spread like bad weeds
    and not the kind you can smoke.
    I do wonder, tho
    Should intelligent, creative, progressive voices just walk away?
    Who could blame anyone for never wanting to look back. Who wants that abuse?
    There must be progressive type newbies and they mean well, they may
    ‘think’ they are at a progressive site
    and all of this -barry talk- is some new norm.
    I hope that anyone drawn to the progressive side of things
    can see through a scam and they will put two and two together.
    Those trolls have formula which makes me believe that most are coming from one source.
    More often, they do seem to travel in packs.

    One thing I must admit to is my own little humble campaign to bring-don’t laugh-
    Classical Music to that site because of the high traffic.
    Having a daughter going into that world I want to help her in any way I can.
    People just may not know how good this music is unless they give it a listen.
    So I give them an opportunity or two.
    I have posted all kinds of music but I am heavy on the Classical.
    It is the one area I feel a little confident about.

    At the HP it’s much like driving the 405 near the LAX airport during rush hour, not even the car pool lane helps.
    Back here, at the Planet, it feels like your are driving on the Pacific Coast Highway, refreshing & free.

    • Khirad says:

      I remember when I was new to the game -- I’d always thought it was a progressive site -- and seeing comments that I took at face value. One that had me perplexed was someone claiming to be a mental health worker complaining that most with mental health issues were faking and freeloaders. I politely corrected them…

      Oh, how far I’ve come from my na

      • PatsyT says:

        Thats just it K, new people are going in there thinking this is the Happening progressive site and if they wander down to comments (they used to come up at the very end of the story) It’s Barry this and Acorn that what garbage.
        Anyone remember the day that some one let the F word fly everywhere, for hours
        whats up with that?
        And I can’t tell a neadertroll to shove back to the stone age?

        • Khirad says:

          The day I will forever remember in infamy (it was a weekend) is when someone with the most racist and sexually explicit Barack/Michelle/Daughters monikers (’cause they’d keep coming back) posted the whole Constitution for two-three hours and went generally full melt-down mode apeshit! I to this day have not seen a troll that literally unhinged. Like worse than Bachmann, actual hospitalization material.

          I also remember a few occasions with Stormfronters (and no, I’m not kidding, I think they really were). And the early occasions of the more devious trolls trying to convince me they were really a lib but defending the witchdoctor thing of Obama: I shredded them a new one for such specious apologetics.

          Me though, I was pretty quick to the game in figuring out that any mention of ACORN means conservitroll!

          • PatsyT says:

            I think I remember those black hatefest jokers.

            I sent emails to the writers of the posts and C&P ed
            some of the stuff.
            You know I will have to look for those
            That was epic.
            I got responses

            • Khirad says:

              Were you there for the Africa trip? I remember that being pretty bad.

            • escribacat says:

              There is a link at the bottom of the comments where it asks if you’re having problems with comments. There use to be a Report Abusive Profile button but it only shows up sometimes now.

            • PatsyT says:

              That may have been it.

              Well, if one of the authors has an email address I use that- like for this Arthur Delaney, his email address was right there next to his name.

            • PatsyT says:

              found it
              Subject: Re: Abusive posters
              From: [email protected]
              Date: September 1, 2009 2:25:01 PM PDT
              To:

              Good lord! Please do flag those, and I’ll alert a tech person.

              On Tue, Sep 1, 2009 at 5:24 PM, wrote:

              I

            • nellie says:

              I posted to facebook what was going on at HP and announced I was boycotting the site because of it. I got a few people to join me.

              Publicity is the way to stop that kind of nonsense.

            • escribacat says:

              I remember those, Patsy. There was someone posting crap like that over and over, then they’d get banned, then they’d be back five minutes later with a different name,posting the same thing. There was a lot of obscene stuff about Michelle. Gawd, that was awful.

            • PatsyT says:

              I took my name and email off of that.
              That went on for more then half a day.

              They used AH name as the poster
              and that was on e of the mild ones

            • Khirad says:

              BTW, how do you report someone now?

        • escribacat says:

          I thought it was a progressive site for the longest time. Then I began to think it was irritating that AH spent so much effort in self-promotion. “Watch AH talking to Keith.” Watch Arianna talking to Rachel. Watch Arianna talking to herself…Gawd. How narcissistic can you get (and can’t she see it?)

          And then the campaign to destroy Geithner began…and went on, and still goes on. I don’t know if Geithner is a good guy or a bad guy but I haven’t seen ANY evidence that he’s a bad guy except he screwed up on his taxes and he’s associated with people on Wall Street. Well, of COURSE he’s associated with them. How else could he know what’s going on? Anyway, it’s a smear campaign as far as I’m concerned. I do have my own issues with Summers because of his past comments about women, but I don’t know whether he’s competent in his job or not.

          I have noticed something I consider very good though…that there are enough of us on these threads saying, Hey, wait a minute. That headline isn’t accurate. This is sensationalism. This is a witch-hunt. There are enough of us saying that, that the pitchforking tone of the thread often turns around now. I think that is a very good thing. I’ve seen this over and over lately.

          • PatsyT says:

            Thats a good point, there is a lot of calling out going on.
            Even from some surprises.
            I thought they put Timmy G in there to battle the crooks like Roosevelt put Kennedy Sr. in that position when it was created.
            I think I have that right ??
            Well that may be a bad comparison but I thought you need someone who knows that stuff because that stuff is so over the heads of all but a very few.

            • BigDogMom says:

              Hey Patsy, I too think they put Getner in there like Roosevelt put Joe Kennedy Sr. in, it takes a thief to catch a thief…Getner has the credentials and the knowledge needed, unfortunately he does not have the forceful personality that Joe Sr. did.

            • PatsyT says:

              BDM You got that right, TG is more like someone you want to take care of, soft spoken and all.
              It just shows how hard all of this financial voodoo truly is.

            • Khirad says:

              Yeah, that’s what I thought too, but he hasn’t turned out so well on that strategy.

              In any case, “mirror mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of them all” Queen Arianna needs to get over herself.

              I can’t believe there was a time when I mildly liked her (is it okay to confess to that?). Now I just see her as a yellow journalist and opportunist.

      • escribacat says:

        Yes. For example, the main thread over there right now. I took one look and left.

        • Khirad says:

          I got sent to pending for adding a x2 to a simple ‘No’ to the ridiculous question.

          Honestly, why does the queen need to moderate so heavily on her own sensationalism? Maybe she should mod her own blog entries first!

    • escribacat says:

      Patsy — I remember Tareytons and that commercial! Wasn’t there a person with a black eye? Gawd…that was a long time ago. I liked your post. I think you make a good point about the similarity between the trolls. I’ve just assumed that it’s because they all get their talking points from the same sources: primarily, Limbaugh and Beck. You can always tell when one of those two guys has come up with a new routine — the trolls are all spouting it the next day. BTW, health care is my main issue too. I’ve been going back and forth between feeling optimistic and dejected about its chances. Unfortunately, I’m feeling dejected right now — I suppose it’s because of azzhole Lieberman. Ugh. What’s wrong with our country?

      • PatsyT says:

        You know It has been bleak before but I will not be afraid.
        How did that Lieb turn out to be such a Capital L Loser ?
        And to think I cried when he and Gore were ripped off.

        • escribacat says:

          Yes. That is the right attitude. I swore to myself about a month ago that I would not let the negative health care headlines upset me, that I would make my judgment about the quality of the reform on the day that I signed up for my own insurance.

          • PatsyT says:

            I try to take that energy and make more calls or write more letters and or send around more petitions.
            Or just clean house and make a healthy, yummy dinner.

  8. Dreamers101 says:

    Say! where is the comments are waiting section on this thingy :-)

  9. AdLib says:

    Wow, what a piece, Pepe!

    I’ll probably write some snarky joke later but just wanted to say in my serious voice how pleased we are to have you blogging here at The Planet.

    Cheers!

  10. Dreamers101 says:

    I guess I need to spend more time over here because I tend to get a little angry at the trollz and even some Lib’s that act like trollz.

    I feel like that they’re some real friends over here and not baiting me into a fight.

    Thanks Pepe I’m glad to see your off timeout…

    • escribacat says:

      Hey, Dreamers…Welcome. No baiting here.

      • Dreamers101 says:

        I know escribacat but like many others I do enjoy debating with trollz Repug or even Lib trollz you know they do exist?

        • escribacat says:

          Absolutely. There are the far-far left who want to execute all republicans. I’ve gotten into a lot of scraps with them. I actually get more upset with their Obama-bashing than with rightwing trolls. I haven’t figured out why yet. Then there are some libs dressed up in troll socks. That’s very annoying.

          It is interesting that you can see the whole political spectrum represented over there. I’ve learned a lot actually.

          • PatsyT says:

            Internet Astro turffing perhaps?

          • Khirad says:

            Yeah, they can be a bit much. They don’t realize that they often represent the same things they decry.

            I, for instance, got annoyed with all the criticism over GOP purity tests, and then the same behavior on the left by the same types of people.

            • escribacat says:

              The “Obama is a traitor” crowd drives me nuts. My number one nemesis over there is marcospinelli. I got so pissed at her the other day I told her she reminded me of Pol Pot. That was after she said I acted like the “Bushies.”

            • Khirad says:

              Yes, KQuark. I have no friggin’ clue which campaign THEY were watching. I think they just sort of started seeing what they wanted to see in him; whereas I paid attention, read about him, and never had any illusions about who he would be. If anything I’ve been disappointed with some bone-headed appointments, and other strategic blunders on policy, but the ones that freak me out are the ones who seem to have completely forgotten his stance on Afghanistan and thinking he’s betrayed them by not pulling troops out! That and many other things that aren’t grounded in any reality whatsoever. I think they just climbed aboard the hope express, nothing wrong with that, but I admit to being a cynical Obama voter, who simply saw him as the lesser of all evils who could actually get elected.

            • escribacat says:

              KQuark — I agree, Obama’s driving force is always to find common ground. I think that is how he approaches everything. I think many on the left saw a black man up there and assumed he would be what they wanted him to be — a radical leftist. But I think it was his “common ground” approach that got him elected.

            • KQuark says:

              Candidate Obama never campaigned to be hyper partisan or very liberal. I read his books and he’s far from a radical. His vision is progressive but he’s also the ultimate pragmatist. Yet people on the far left and far right still expected him to be radically left. Hell the right is still calling him radically leftist.

            • Khirad says:

              Yes escribacat, that is the one. May have the best of intentions but they are insufferably misguided.

            • escribacat says:

              Posts a lot of pro-Amadenejad stuff? Is sure the three hikers are spies and the protesters are drones for the evil west.

            • Khirad says:

              Oh yes, now I know exactly what type you’re talking about with that example. My nemesis on occasion like this has been the one with the fairy wing avatar.

        • Khirad says:

          You mean like the PUMAS?

          • PepeLepew says:

            Not necessarily PUMAs, but “Obama’s no better than Bush” and “Obama sold us down the river on the single-payer.” There’s about three or four of them I get pretty tired of. I find it childish.

            • escribacat says:

              I agree. I want single-payer too but the reality is, it couldn’t pass this congress. And maybe we’d have better bargaining positioning if it had been on the table at the beginning. But to post nothing but “Single-payer or nothing” over and over at this point is hardly helpful.

          • escribacat says:

            Those people I can’t figure out. To me the difference between Hillary and Obama is fairly insignificant. If anything, I’d put Obama to the left of Hillary. I voted for Hillary in the primary in fact.

            • Khirad says:

              Well, actually, I shouldn’t say left with them. Our resident PUMA went to Palin after Hillary. And no, there wasn’t a significant difference, not as big as one that they played up, at least. In any case, as a Dem I would have voted for whoever won the primaries, and I have to really wonder about those. After all, the Greens had a woman, and they didn’t go for her!

            • escribacat says:

              I find it utterly impossible to follow the logical path from Hillary to Palin. It can only be a one-issue voter (must have a female president). I do know someone like that in Boulder.

  11. kesmarn says:

    Pepe, you’ve written a very candid and honest article that so many of us can relate to.
    I joined HP in 2008 and found myself very drawn in to the whole debate scene; partly it was because I naively thought that AH might take the best of what appeared there and use it to advance progressive issues. I know…pretty gullible, huh?
    Also the whole fanning thing can be intriguing…even though I was such a fact-bound, stodgy poster I never even broke 100!
    But, like lots of people here, I found myself being more and more frequently sucked into those circular arguments with the trolls. It was one day that I was sitting at the keyboard,actually breaking into a sweat and with my heart rate going up rather alarmingly as I bumped heads with a troll, that I realized that this was not such a productive way to spend my time. I work an extremely stressful job, and here I was turning into an adrenaline junkie on my “down time”!! And not a happy junkie, either.
    It was when Arianna proposed that Joe Biden resign (and tried to look as though she were serious when she did it), that I realized I was clogging up my coronaries with stress hormones for a site run by a cynical opportunist. I knew I had to find an alternative. I’m almost certain it was KevenSeven who posted a link to here, which miraculously escaped the mods, and I never looked back. (Thank you, K7)
    I still occasionally pop over there. (I think I threw out an “‘allo, mon ami” on the night when you got banned.) But I have less inclination to take on the trolls unless I can actually think of some funny way to do it. And I find the place pretty depressing after a while. I hear that there are actual businesses (kind of “rent-a-troll” boiler rooms) that will supply people who will just go on line and post comments for a fee. I wouldn’t be surprised if some right wing organizations aren’t using these services to attack the progressive agenda “over there.” So what’s the point of debating a mercenary?

    From all the comments here, though, Pepe, I would say that there’s one character trait that all of us hold in common: WE ALL HATE BULLIES. Like so many here, I have spent a life time going after them.

    I’ve just--over the years--gotten a lot smarter about how I do it!

    • KevenSeven says:

      Yer welcome.

    • Kalima says:

      Just a small note. Remember OP CHAOS, many trolls at this time actually boasted about how much they were being payed for each nonsensical, demeaning post they had stick there, demeaning Obama. It was enough to make me feel sick.

      Yes there are payed trolls and yes the moderators are the instigators of much of the conflict there by either banning older posters who see through them, pending or scrubbing legitimate opinions, leaving up the s**t encrusted troll posts or as I thought as far back as the end of last year, actually posing as trolls for more clicks for “Miss Thing,”

    • escribacat says:

      kesmarn — It was that Biden should resign thing that brought me over here too.

  12. Kalima says:

    Just a quick Hi to everyone before I dash off.

    Have a great evening. See you soon.

  13. Khirad says:

    Great Trollology. What is to add? And yes, I detest bullies. I developed quite a sharp tongue. With bullies in the real world though, that just makes them frustrated and humiliated, so they have to make up for their intellectual inferiority physically.

    I’m torn too. For the most part I’d rather ignore them, but on occasion, when they’re scrapping with me on a topic I feel really passionate about, I don’t suffer them.

    Ditto on the other ‘friends’ -- it is sorta pathetic to say that, I know -- but I started hanging around in the threads for the same reason. I learn more from them than the article most of the time.

    • SeeknDestroy says:

      Hey Khirad..Good to see you..
      I know what you mean.
      The last several years,I’ve lost a lot of friends…
      I used to have several, now I have a handful…
      And I have made some real, honest to goodness friends online…
      I also have learned volumes from some of the brilliant folks on these blogs…

  14. KQuark says:

    It’s great you started blogging for a very worthy cause to start. My mother-in-law died of breast cancer and I’m sure her heavy smoking contributed.

    My foray into the blog world was much less noble. I started by just leaving a few comments on sports blogs. I really did not start heavily blogging until 2008 even though I’m a huffy member since 2006.

    Like many here I would guess I’ve had allot of similar experiences to the ones you describe. Sure it’s an instant gratification thing to crush a troll. To be honest I’m not usually a confrontational person so you are right I think everyone behaves differently on blogs. I certainly do, so that’s why the blog world will never be the real world.


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