FriendFeed: Trolling for Trouble?

Social media can be a wonderful experience.

As anyone who looks at this blog with any frequency knows, I have been extolling the virtues of FriendFeed for some time.

Friendfeed is  a “lifestream aggregator.” What that means in “non-tech-speak” is that it is a place you can bring together all your various feeds. As Wikipedia astutely noted:

“Friendfeed consolidates the updates from social media and social networking websites, social bookmarking websites, blogs and micro-blogging updates, as well as any other type of RSS/ Atom feed. Users can use this stream of information to create customized feeds to share (and comment) with friends.

But it is more than that. So much more.

THE GOOD

FriendFeed is a place populated by a diverse group of individuals, some extremely intelligent. Not a day goes by where I do not learn something new about technology, arts, sports, literature and current events. And almost always I learn these things hours if not days before the mainstream media gets around to discussing the topics in question.  So FF is indeed a place to learn.

FriendFeed is also a place to interact. There are some truly complex, thoughtful, warm and witty people on there. For some, FF has become a  very strong community.

THE REALLY GOOD

A great example of this was the recent birth of a beautiful baby girl. So many people were so excited about the pregnancy and the birth – which the father actually twittered but still, FF was kept apprised. And there was genuine rejoicing over her entrance into the world.

And if people have connected through FF for a long time, they have developed shared jokes, common interests and a genuine concern for each other. There’s even been an FF-sparked romance between two really funny, smart, spirited and lovely individuals.

Why then am I thinking of leaving this community if it is all lollipops and rainbows and kittens? [LOL Cats to be more specific.]

THE BAD

It may be the phases of the moon or growing pains or the fact that the discussion of politics can bring out the worst in people. But as of late, many pockets of FF have been filled with drama and sniping and comments that are clearly designed to provoke people.

In the darker corners of FF, the  trolls have been out in force. For those not familiar with the term, here is a very good definition of a troll from a public-domain document known as The Jargon File:

An individual who… regularly posts specious arguments, flames or personal attacks… for no other purpose than to annoy someone or disrupt a discussion. Trolls are recognizable by the fact that they have no real interest in learning about the topic at hand – they simply want to utter flame bait. Like the ugly creatures they are named after, they exhibit no redeeming characteristics….

Most of the time I can ignore such behaviour. As the mother of a crafty, clever 4-year-old, I’ve been well-trained to do so: Tantruming wee children and trolls are not all that different. They both want attention and they want it NOW.

At least the children are cute.

THE UGLY

Common courtesy has become an oxymoron it seems. (Or maybe morons just don’t know how to be courteous? )

Right now on FF, many people seem to have lost the ability to agree to disagree or to debate things they don’t see eye-to-eye on civilly.

Today I reached my limit during a discussion of the Inauguration of President Obama. There has been a lot of excitement and hope generated by the Obama over on FF. And apparently trolls don’t like hope.

In response to a series of primarily positive comments I made, someone suggested that I go do something rather nasty.

That’s usually not a problem for me except what they suggested — an action that could be thought of as somewhat benign — was in fact the method used by someone I loved to end their existence. And having to relive that- to plummet to that kind of despair after having been so full of hope and joy – was too much.

The final straw snapped.

CONCLUSION

But please don’t take this as a condemnation of FriendFeed. With exceptions, it is a magnificent and lively group of  intriguing, intelligent souls. You just need to have infinite patience to deal with the few vile and insistent trolls oozing out from under that particular community’s bridge.

Alas,  my patience has reached its limits – and thus, regretfully, my time on FF likely has too.

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1 comment so far

  1. abbymartin on

    To the FFers who have stopped by and left comments – and you know who you are- THANK YOU for your kindness and your support. I chose not to publish them as they were of a private nature for the most part. As I said in the post, the GOOD in FF is REALLY GOOD. [Particular thanks to my fellow Canadian and his amazing American girl- both of whom I like very much. Also to someone who utilizes “stupid” in her handle and is 1000% so not that. She’s pretty amazing too!] Bless you guys.


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