Tag Archives: internet

Book Review: Troll Hunting by Ginger Gorman

 

I feel as if I’ve lived under a rock. The revelations this book unfolded for me were not only eye-opening but positively scary. According to the book’s blurb, journalist Ginger Gorman was trolled in 2013. After doing a story she received hateful tweets, including a death threat, and a picture of her, her husband, and daughter appeared on a fascist website. Although terrifying, she began questioning who the trolls were and why they did what they did. So began her incredibly insightful investigation into another world, a world of cyberhate, cyber-crime and a community of faceless trolls.

Gorman talks to a realm of professionals including psychologists, academics, law enforcement agencies, victims as well as the trolls themselves. The motivation behind the troll’s activities is wide-reaching from causing mischief for fun to disturbance, disruption to individual lives or in the wider arena of political spheres. Sometimes their activities have catastrophic consequences. Gorman dips deep to get into the psyche of a troll’s mindset and one troll admitted that when he was eleven he was on the internet playing pranks for hours; “in other words: the internet was my parent.” The troll in question agrees with Gorman’s observation that for some young people, radicalisation into trolling begins at a young age.

The trolls’ backgrounds are varied. There are the women haters, terrorists, ultra-right wingers, and left-wingers, to categorise a few. But mostly they’re men often holding down ordinary jobs, and educated too. It’s naive to think that people like this haven’t been around for years and years. But the difference here is anonymity in a different dimension.

It makes you think about your own online behaviour. Like yelling in the car at the mistake someone’s made on the road, our road rage is often hidden safely behind the confines of the vehicle. Online, does anyone really know who we are? And words can hurt far more than anyone realises.

‘There’s good evidence to show dehumanising speech can lead to sticks and stones. … numerous academic studies … show dehumanisation is ‘associated with an increased willingness to perpetrate violence.’

It’s a hard read with each turn of the page revealing something more disturbing than before. Yet so compelling is it, you find yourself fascinated. I almost reached for my social media apps to delete them all. And that is a real reaction as we wonder how safe we are in the online world.

This book would have been incredibly difficult to write. The depths of Gorman’s own anguish shows through and as a reader, I was right there with her. Trolling can destroy lives and although some have gone to jail, the law enforcement agencies don’t appear to have fully caught up with this epidemic activity, and that’s scary.

I’m in awe of this author’s bravery to have not only conducted incredible research but possibly put herself and her family into danger, physically and mentally. Yes, it’s an eye-opener and if you’re on social media it would be wise to check this book out.

How exactly do I find out more?

State Library of Victoria

State Library of Victoria

So  I knew a bit  about Ocean Island. But if I really wanted to understand what my father had experienced, I would have to read something of that time. Luckily he’d mentioned reading  the “Mid-Pacific Outposts” which had been written in 1945 by  Albert Ellis himself (see my earlier post entitled ‘ Where is Ocean Island?’ for more on him).

Surely my father had kept a copy – I searched through all of his old boxes – nothing  but old school trigonometry books – why on earth had he kept these?

I searched the internet and found it listed but not in stock. I searched bookshops for old and rare books – nothing.

Then I discovered Trove which is the brainchild of the National Library of Australia. What a site! I found articles, newspapers, books, letters, archived for viewing in many cases on-line, dating back to the 1800’s – and mostly for free. It listed the book available in my own State library. The only catch was I would have to go there – it wasn’t available to borrow.

I admit that I’d never been to this amazing place in the centre of Melbourne. Once there, I ordered the book and waited for half an hour while they brought it down from some secret spot in the bowels of the library. I  explored –  there were terminals, a newspaper room, communal desks, people everywhere and books, books and books. It was a busy place. I must have looked like a country hick – mouth open in awe. In truth, I  live only a short distance away in suburbia.

Soon my book, labled with my name, was ready. It  looked and smelt like it’d been in a dark dusty dungeon. I  found a place at a communal table and opened the cover.The last time it had been taken out of its dingy hiding spot was in the fifties – a popular book, it wasn’t.

After ten minutes of reading, I was only up to page 15 – this was going to be slow.  My Ipad was in my bag – so I took photos of the pages I wanted. I glanced around but no-one bothered me or seemed the least bit concerned.

There was great information but if Mr Ellis were relying on reviews of his book today, I’m sure the feedback would not be good.

The internet has been an amazing source of information  and it continually astounds me. But there was stuff in this book that I would never have found on the internet and there are still holes in our information highway waiting to be filled.