Trolls Live Under the Bridge

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This post will be part housekeeping, and then some exposition of the housekeeping.

First the housekeeping. Under our new system here, comment moderation is managed according to the folkways, mores and customs of Disqus. This system is now necessary because right around the same time I moved to my new theme, the number of comments that required moderation exploded. I have not yet identified which was the chicken and which the egg, but it doesn’t matter actually. What matters is that there are times when I post something, and a couple hours later there are hundreds of comments. Now when words are many, sin is not absent (Prov. 10:19), and when there are that many comments chugging along the chances are good that somebody is misbehaving.Trolls

Now I get an email for every comment that somebody reports, and here is where it gets a bit more complicated. Sometimes a comment is reported to me, and for the life of me I cannot figure out how that comment could be in any way offensive. I don’t think your sainted Aunt Millie could find a problem with it. And then sometimes the comment seems innocuous enough, but it is phrased in such a way that it is possible that the thread it came from provides the context that makes it offensive, but I don’t have that context, and it would be a pain to track it down. Then there are times when the reported comment is simply disagreeing with me, and I assume that a fan of mine is being overly-jealous for my reputation. My general practice is to clear all such comments.

Then there is the comment that really is a stinker. The offensiveness of such offerings ascends in proportion to the pseudonymery involved. I really appreciate (and depend upon) those who report such comments. I routinely delete these comments, dispatching them to Internet Sheol, there to lie down in the shadows with Assyria, Elam, and Meshech-Tubal.

Now here is the exposition, trying to explain why I do what I try to do. What is the thinking behind keeping some trolls or borderline trolls on the premises as long as I do? Keep in mind there are three realities operating.

The first is when I refuse to answer a troll according to his folly because I don’t want to become like him (Prov. 26:4). Sometimes his comment stands with no answer because I want people just to see the comment. Sometimes if the comment is really egregious, I simply delete it without answering it.

The second category is when I answer a troll according to his folly because it would be bad for the commonwealth if such an one became wise in his own conceit (Prov. 26:5).

The third is when I don’t answer a troll according to his folly because I am a techtard who is (too) slowly learning how to run his own blog machinery, and who very busy with other pastoral responsibilities as well (Prov. 32:1). You have no idea how time-consuming it is to run an empire of heresy and lies built on the suppressed voices of the dispossessed.

The first verse from Prov. 26 should indicate that “don’t feed the trolls” is a scriptural sentiment. But it is also a scriptural sentiment to point out that the next verse says that it is really not that simple.

Sometimes the troll is growing wise in his own conceits, and that is sufficient reason to take him down a few pegs. But other times the troll is not simply a disgruntled and disconnected soul with time on his hands — mom’s basement not being nearly the happening place he thought it would be. Sometimes trolls are well-connected, have regular ministry jobs, and other responsible people, some of them clothed and in their right minds, are affected by the conceits. So sometimes trolls are not standard-issue misfits — they are Christian men with families who love them, and who ought to be heartily ashamed of themselves, and who one day will be. And even if they do not come to repentance, some of those who were unduly affected by them will.

This means that the trollery cannot be simply evaluated on the content of the comment alone. Why did you delete DN but not PK, when they both said essentially the same thing? Well, one of the reasons, to make up an example, would be if PK is a high poobah down at the National Association of Evangelicals. His comment deserves to be axed, as DN’s was, but his position requires us to give it the time of day. This is actually one of the signs that our cultural leprosy is pretty far advanced — when craziness is tolerated at higher and higher levels.

In other words, in these degenerate times, no one person is in charge of who should be taken seriously. I wish I were, even though that means there would be a lot less to write about. For example, the fact that I don’t think Donald Trump should be taken seriously as a presidential candidate doesn’t mean that circumstances might require us to take him seriously.

In the same vein, as with all troll problems, some of those involved here are undoubtedly miserable losers. But others of them are miserable winners. You can chase a lot of metaphorical ambulances, and make your pile, but, as U2 found out, still not find what you are looking for.

So, taking one thing with another, I take full responsibility for what I write in this space, and take general responsibility for what appears below it. I built the bridge at a scenic bend in the river and sometimes trolls come and try to live under there. I do what I can, and so you may consider this a posted sign to warn those picnickers who stop by for a little Sunday afternoon edification. From time to time, I regret to say, a guy runs through naked, spitting and yelling.

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Rob Steele
Rob Steele
5 years ago

Apt comparison that, trolls to the Gadarene demoniac. Insane, irrepressible, full of evil. I suppose they also make the best evangelists once they’re saved. We need a cyber-exorcist.

Carson Spratt
5 years ago
Reply to  Rob Steele

Here’s one. Dogbert will help.
comment image

Rob Steele
Rob Steele
5 years ago
Reply to  Carson Spratt

I can feel it … working!

JakeJ
JakeJ
5 years ago

Glad I wasn’t drinking coffee when I read, “You have no idea how time-consuming it is to run an empire of heresy and lies built on the suppressed voices of the dispossessed.” My keyboard might not have recovered.

Jon Swerens
5 years ago
Reply to  JakeJ

Ah, but he missed a chance to drop a “Princess Bride”-esque “I’m swamped!” at the end.

Nord357
Nord357
5 years ago
Reply to  JakeJ

I was… It went about as you would expect.

timothy
timothy
5 years ago
Reply to  JakeJ

I wanted to send him all my money!

Valerie (Kyriosity)
5 years ago
Reply to  timothy

That’s how the cult is funded, Timothy.

jigawatt
jigawatt
5 years ago

In the same vein, as with all troll problems, some of those involved here are undoubtedly miserable losers.

Yep, yep, uh huh, there it is. He just said that EVERYBODY who disagrees with him is a miserable loser. Said it right there in black and tan, er … white.

David Oestreich
David Oestreich
5 years ago

How can the leprosy be advanced when things are getting better and better (couldn’t get no worse)?

Also, not sure how long this post has been up, but no one yet rueing “techtard”? Tsk.

Valerie (Kyriosity)
5 years ago

Leprosy causes nerve damage so you can’t feel the pain.

David Oestreich
David Oestreich
5 years ago

So are things getting worse? Our leprosy, mind you.

Dunsworth
Dunsworth
5 years ago

Some things are getting worse.

Bro. Steve
Bro. Steve
5 years ago
Reply to  Dunsworth

You guys are totally harshing the postmillennial mellow.

Dunsworth
Dunsworth
5 years ago
Reply to  Bro. Steve

No, I’m not harshing my own mellow. Postmillennialism does not and never did say nothing would ever get worse and everything would always get better.

Rick Davis
Rick Davis
5 years ago

I don’t know any postmillennialist who says that the future is like a line graph going up, and up, and up. From the first time I started learning about postmil, everyone I read said that exegesis by newspaper was a bad idea. Even if all the news in the paper is bad this day, or this month, or even this century, that doesn’t nullify the idea of postmillennialism. Our eschatology should come from the Bible, not current events. It’s expected that the kingdom comes slowly, like leaven. There may be ups and downs along the way, but the general trend… Read more »

David Oestreich
David Oestreich
5 years ago
Reply to  Rick Davis

Yes, let us not compare revelation to reality.

And, yes, revelation is realer than reality, but, if your revelation dictates a certain reality, then, at some point, actual reality must live up to it.

Wesley Sims
Wesley Sims
5 years ago

I think the argument would be that it has, David

Wesley Sims
Wesley Sims
5 years ago

What I mean in that other comment is this: You say, “And, yes, revelation is realer than reality, but, if your revelation dictates a certain reality, then, at some point, actual reality must live up to it.” Well, you’re NOT going to persuade anyone with that line of argument because it’s missing the point. If you declare that this Revelation *reveals* what reality is, but I perceive reality to be different than what this Revelation *reveals*, then I must concede that my perception is wrong. Conceding that the Revelation was wrong means that I never believed that Revelation in the… Read more »

David Oestreich
David Oestreich
5 years ago
Reply to  Wesley Sims

And the counterargument would be that it has not. Bully. Everybody wins. And Doug still reigns in Moscow.

Wesley Sims
Wesley Sims
5 years ago

But the question is not how you perceive reality, but rather what is *actually revealed* by Revelation. Your perception of reality will flow from the Revelation.

Revelation is not “realer than reality.” Revelation tells us what is *actually real*.

To be straightforward, does Scripture point in a post-mil direction or in some other direction? Our perception of what reality is and how we think the world’s doing is secondary to what we believe Scripture to be telling us.

The problem regards exegesis rather than current events. Pull some proof-texts; explain hermeneutics; tell me what Revelation reveals.

lloyd
5 years ago

Look at the church now. Look at the church 500 years ago. Look at the church 1000 years ago. Imagine the church in 5000 more years. I imagine something unimaginably great. Let’s build it. Post-mil.

Kevin Bratcher
5 years ago
Reply to  lloyd

Look at your church. Now look at mine. Now back to yours. Now back to mine. Sadly, your church isn’t like mine, but if it stopped using preposterous praise and worship music and switched to old psalters, it could at least sound like it’s mine. Look down. Back up. Where are you? You’re on a pew in the church your church could sound like. What’s in your hand? I have it. It’s a book, with 150 Psalms to that God you love. Look again: The tunes are now Genevan! Anything is possible when your church sings from the Bible and… Read more »

lloyd
5 years ago
Reply to  Kevin Bratcher

The word “strange” comes to mind.

wisdumb
wisdumb
5 years ago

David,
Ask yourself if there is a time period in which you would have rather lived.

David Oestreich
David Oestreich
5 years ago
Reply to  wisdumb

1689.

wisdumb
wisdumb
5 years ago

Where? China, Mexico, England?
Do you enjoy a shower every day?
How many years would you expect to live? Is 35 -40 enough?
Would you enjoy a 10 hr day of hard labor and drudgery?
Would you want to give up your education?
Do you appreciate this here internet?
Etc, Etc…

David Oestreich
David Oestreich
5 years ago
Reply to  wisdumb

Modern conveniences are. I would hope to be content in God, my portion.
Daily showers. Please.

"A" dad
"A" dad
5 years ago

Prov. 15:23.

A person finds joy in giving an apt reply; and how good is a timely word!

Ok Wilson, we get it, you are so blessed with an abundance of trolls, that you share them with us as a vehicle for apt replies!

Thanks for being so generous!????

Flipov Sirylo
Flipov Sirylo
5 years ago

Serious question for you, Doug…

This is my first and probably only comment here, but I’ve wondered this for several months now and just gotta ask. Considering how often your comment threads turn into vile mud pits, why not simply disable them? Done.

bethyada
5 years ago
Reply to  Flipov Sirylo

No!

Registration if you really must. But leave the discussions going.

Dunsworth
Dunsworth
5 years ago
Reply to  bethyada

Absolutely. Anyway, until a few months ago, the discussions here were, on the whole, edifying and stimulating. We just need more consistent policing — (unnecessary disclaimer) not of those who challenge or disagree, but of those who disrupt, misdirect, and slander.

jillybean
jillybean
5 years ago

My only question involve the definition of trollery (trollhood? trolldom? who knows?) What separates the troll from the person who sincerely but absolutely disagrees with a stand Doug Wilson has taken and who expresses himself forcefully? How do we differentiate between a persistent person acting from good faith and someone who is simply trying to spread rumor and contention? Is trollery like pornography in that it can’t be defined but we know it when we see it?

From my experience on other boards Doug gives people a boatload of rope before cutting them off.

Rob Steele
Rob Steele
5 years ago
Reply to  jillybean

There’s a spectrum of trollery from mild snark to “did God actually say?” Satan’s question looks innocent on the outside but is full of poisonous presuppositions. The easy to spot stuff is less dangerous precisely because it’s so ugly.

Christopher Casey
Christopher Casey
5 years ago
Reply to  jillybean

From wikipedia: “In Internet slang, a troll is a person who sows discord on the Internet by starting arguments or upsetting people, by posting inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community (such as a newsgroup, forum, chat room, or blog) with the deliberate intent of provoking readers into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion, often for their own amusement”

Dunsworth
Dunsworth
5 years ago
Reply to  jillybean

I think the noun form for the practice is “trolling.”

Nord357
Nord357
5 years ago
Reply to  Dunsworth

Trolldom being the community of Trolls and trollery is to trolling as thievery is to thieving.

At least that’s how I’m going to say it. :)

Wesley Sims
Wesley Sims
5 years ago
Reply to  Nord357

Public transportation is the primary means of getting around Trolldom…

I think you can fill in the punchline..

jillybean
jillybean
5 years ago
Reply to  Dunsworth

Why didn’t I think of that? My 65th birthday has done little for my brains.

Dunsworth
Dunsworth
5 years ago
Reply to  jillybean

To be fair, if I wasn’t so used to seeing it used, I might not have come up with it either.

lloyd
5 years ago

MAKE THE INTERNET GREAT AGAIN.

(Caps-lock not stuck)