It may serve to let people know how old I really am but I remember the first tranche of chat rooms. These chat rooms were the embryonic beginnings of social media; they were the first places where we could connect with others in real time. The idea was that we could all connect and chat like some Star Trekesque utopia. The reality was much more stark and illustrated that we are closer in social graces to a drunk chimp than we are to Dr. Spock and his friends.
They were horrific. Like a never ending, first day of big school. The black canvased, colour-splashed houses of lies and untruth. You entered with a brave heart and a false personality. The user names were vicious. DeViL 666KiLler was the type of thing you would meet there, asking you to chat in a private room, “Eh, no thanks.”.
These chat rooms formed the basis of the “trolls” we see today. The difference was that in 1999, Trolls ruled the social web! It was their world and ordinary decent people were not welcome in it! Troll hierarchy was easy to figure out –
King Troll – the guy who knows more than three people in the “room” and offers opinion as fact in a 6 paragraph diatribe which starts with, “Well, whenever I was in the navy……” . Invariably he is 14 years of age and socially dysfunctional.
Everyone’s Favourite Troll – ironically named because he tends to wait until someone says something vaguely controversial before eviscerating them with some acerbic commentary. 21 year old philosophy student, every time.
Fake Troll – Says “Fake” to any opinion or fact put forward. YouTube was a godsend to these people and they now all live on the Isle of Man.
Homophobic/Racist/Violent/Sexist/Criminal Troll – Writes like a protégé of Goebbels and lives of everyone venting their spleen at his hatred. Will more often than not make assumptions about your parentage or sexual orientation. Delight. Usually a Young Conservative.
Then came the rise of the social networks. People started to break through the glass wall of fake online identity and put their online views forward as their offline self. Once I put my identity online and connected it to my real friends, I could not communicate as a pseudonym. Rather than Stud BoY 89 writing his views, it was now Philip Macartney. My views had to become more honest, my profile had to be more honest too, because Philip Macartney, was connected to Philip Macartney’s real life friends who would take him to task if they caught him exaggerating online, “Eh Phil, Ford Mondeo is not spelt F-e-r-r-a-r-i”. Social media had grown up in to transparency and accountability.
Once I had profiles out there, they followed me. If I want to comment on rubbish written in The Daily Mail or Fox News sites, I am generally signed in with Facebook using a service like Gigya or Janrain. My views are held to the account of my self and my reputation. Just like in real life.
Dating sites are the exception to this rule. In a dating site we want to put forward our best foot and not give anything away. While the dating profiles have evolved from the “Troll Years”, they haven’t reached full social maturity. The dating world is human kind at it’s most animalistic, feathers are boasted, chests are puffed and rears are shaken. It’s a sexual jungle and people want to hunt or be hunted. People share the bare minimum but what is shared is designed to attract a mate. You put surfing as a past time, even though you have only done it once, in order to attract hot surfing girls/guys. It’s digital Darwinism at its best, the more honest you are, the less likely you will be to find a mate. Those poor souls who wade in with an honest profile, soon churn out with a feeling of rejection and inadequacy. Yet, the person who skillfully passes himself as a “Modern Day Don Draper”, feasts on date after date.
Citysocializer is trying to bridge the gap between online and offline. We want our community to build up a rapport online before meeting round an event or social offline. We want digital social connection to be a seamless tool in human interaction. Our platform is designed to help converge the two worlds. Our mobile apps make that convergence faster and more natural.
Trolls will always be there. I have seen some epic trolling and to be honest, I hope it continues. The guy on Youtube who trolls everyone and has about 40 different careers, “I was in the marines for 20 years..” etc is brilliant. Bu there are times when I want to communicate with someone real, someone who is not just going to scream “fake” etc. Social accountability and transparency means that I can now reach out and do that and platforms like citysocializer mean that I can reach out to someone I don’t know, make a digital friend and meet them for a pint. Wouldn’t it be funny if they turned out to be a troll in real life?