Tag Archives: ideas

The Age of Trickster: How Trolls are Saving the Internet

The internet troll, a harbinger of jibes, trickery and absurdity, has long been characterised as a perverse blockage, obstruction or intrusion on the normal flow of debate on the internet. But what if the troll was not a troll at all, but a voice of absolute necessity in times when internet discussions proliferate with censorship, vicious commentary backlash, and even harassment from the radical left and the suffocating clingfilm presence of political correctness?

Now let me be clear, when I use the term troll, I am only referring to the internet presence that will roll over and duck under the comments of opposition, the magicians who raise the diametrically opposed opinion from the grave, play devil’s advocate, obfuscate, deflect and reverse public discourse online. We’re not talking about the harmful and evil presences on the internet who will hurt people, find where they live and ruin their personal lives. These people are destroyers. They are not trolls, they are actively malicious, disturbed and dangerous people who quite honestly should be held accountable for their behaviour.

No, the internet troll is a trickster, a devil and a God, a master of reversal, everyone’s fool and everyone’s master. We’ve all been talking about serious topics online and then someone comes into the fray and blows a ridiculous, silly hole in the discussion and everyone is losing their minds ‘you must be a troll, nobody can be that stupid’ they say. The conversation is very often political and sensitive to many. Feminism, racial tensions, transgender pronouns to name a few hot topics. Then, out of nowhere, when all prevailing discussion is comforting, safe and settled, BANG! ‘Men deserve maternity leave, the woman should get back to her job after having the baby’, or ‘I don’t know why transgender rights are an issue, I’ve been called worse things than the incorrect pronoun for my gender’. The troll has dropped a payload that has wrecked serenity, bastardised the unwritten rules of civility and defiled decency of discourse.

Naturally, people react with contempt, with loathing and hatred, some with dissolution, some with confusion, but some will see it for what it is, disruption. And ok, most of the time, people don’t get it, they reject trolls as if they are merely flies to be swatted and disposed of, but is a fly so easy to kill? Famously we have all seen the fly in a movie or cartoon that totally destroys the set up. Take for example Looney Tune’s Bugs Bunny conducting a symphony orchestra in one of many episodes from the franchise, a grand and serious affair. One fly flits and buzzes about, so insignificantly, yet, so crucially. Bugs loses it and proceeds to smash cymbals, puncture drums and feverously swat at the tiny thing until the entire ensemble is in ruins and the show, completely derailed.

Image result for bugs bunny orchestra

‘Bugs Bunny at the Symphony II’ A single fly brings a pompous event to its knees.

It’s the trickster troll’s resilience, evasiveness and ability to wreak inadvertent catastrophe with nothing but a whisper (or a buzz) which deserves our respect and attention. And we should look back to where the trickster came from to find out why he does the things he does. Carl Jung, a pupil of the most famous Psychologist in history, Freud, came up with the archetypes, including the archetypal trickster. He states, using the example of ‘Mercurius’ (The Roman God Mercury) that the roman God embodies most strongly the trickster in ‘his fondness for sly jokes and malicious pranks, his powers as a shape-shifter, his dual nature, half animal, half divine, his exposure to all kinds of tortures, and last but not least – his approximation to the figure of saviour’[1]. The motif is prevalent and recurrent. Apollo the messenger was also trickster, the Native American Coyote, and the figure of the shaman who deals in dark arts have all come to signify the archetype.

Trickster permeates popular culture too. For example, Dr Facilier from Disney’s ‘Princess and the Frog’ is a trickster figure who manipulates spirits but ultimately ends up at their mercy when he fails to fulfil the contract he agrees to gain their command. Daenerys Targaryen from the phenomenally successful Game of Thrones series makes a deal with a female witch doctor, Mirri Maz Duur, her child’s life for her husband’s (Drogo) restoration from a fatal wound. The female witch doctor tricks Daenerys and she ends up with a shade, a dribbling fool and a baron womb. Mirri Maz Duur dupes Daenerys but ends up being burned by fire just before we witness an even greater miracle of birth, the three dragons, thought to be long extinct. In this way, though the trickster plays tricks, the new trick deployed always backfires and trickster becomes the one in the firing line.

Image result for daenerys mirri maz duur

Mirri Maz Duur tricks Daenerys into paying for Drogo’s life with her unborn child.

The trickster, Jung suggests, is also exemplified by the ‘’monkey tricks’’, the ‘state of affairs in which everything goes wrong and nothing intelligent happens except by mistake at the last moment’, the preface leading into a connection of trickster with the workings of politics[2]. Again, we have all witnessed our own disbelief at the sheer absurdity, pettiness and childishness of our political representatives, yet the world has not fallen apart and changes for the better still come into being despite the incredible nature of some of the debates we sometimes end up audience to on the internet or from our television screens.

So why does this figure recur and enter so many doors into the human consciousness? Jung argues the trickster is our primitive ‘shadow’, the antithesis of civilisation, a primal entity which antagonises against order[3]. And, it is this shadow that we must never forget though our want of civilisation paradoxically wills us to try.

Nowhere is this better illustrated than in the rise of political correctness across the west, a direct result of our loss of sight of our equalising shadow, the trickster. Remarkably Jung foretold this also in his discussion of the role of trickster in society:

‘The disastrous idea that everything comes to the human psyche from the outside a ‘tabula rasa’ (blank slate) is responsible for the erroneous belief that under normal circumstances the individual is in perfect order. He then looks to the state for salvation, and makes society pay for his inefficiency. He thinks the meaning of existence would be discovered if food and clothing were delivered to him gratis on his own doorstep or if everybody possessed an automobile. Such are the puerilities that rise up in place of an unconscious shadow and keep it unconscious’[4].

So the trickster comes to serve as a reminder of our core subconscious shadow, a force of chaos and instability which is a part of all of us, but that our consciousness will suppress and resist in the pursuit of civilisation.

But, given this necessity of push and pull, the shadow against the light, the light isn’t always good. In fact, when the light shines everywhere and the shadow disappears, we are left blind to our ugly side, but not enlightened or excised of it. As Jung predicts, we look out at a world lit up, anticipating that the shadows lurk outside and can be found, but we forget that the shadow is in us, and we cannot find him always without, but always within.

So, we hate our trickster trolls for their obfuscation, their trickery and ugliness. An era of political correctness asks us to excise the entities which will act against civility by censor and seizure of rights to speak for fear of offence, but if that is the state then why has the internet troll become a mythology of the internet, inextricably tied to it, enshrined forever? The further we punish trickster into hiding, the greater our need is for his presence. The internet troll no better embodies an age of civilisation gone too far. We need trolls more than we have ever needed them, but perhaps if we recognise how trickster impedes us from within, we will not continue to push him into hiding, only to make him stronger.

 

Bibliography

Jung, C. G. n.d. The Archetypes And The Collective Unconscious. 255 – 267

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A voice lost, a lesson learned.

Second year of University was the year things really started to slip. Immense, self-imposed pressure, relentless deadlines, and a growing realisation of the disparity between the actual and perceived experience of University life started spitting over the sides of the cook’s neglected pot. I, the cook, had taken a vacation from everything. I just up and left. Dissociation, I think they call it.

The thing about this dissociation, the really horrible thing about it is how it makes you become transparent. Ethereal, half made, half mad, and half dead, I ambled, no, groped about the campus most days with my headphones in. I watched people silently, wistfully hoping that I would be noticed, desperately afraid of the idea as well.

It’s strange when you are surrounded by so many people, but you’ve never felt more alone. Isolation is uglier when you see the opposite everywhere you go. Students laughing and talking together. I felt shame, and anger, and desperation. I felt like a dying tree with screaming roots. Frantically I flexed my feelers through baron earth. Water never came.

Unsettling above all was how I knew I was all of those things, all of those emotions, and yet, I couldn’t feel a thing. I remember attempting to will myself to cry on many occasions. I knew I needed to, but the rain just wouldn’t come. I sometimes imagined myself in tears. I imagined a version of myself who was screaming, projecting imaginary tears, a continuous white water rapid across an ugly creasing vista, but it was only an image. I could not will it into being.

When I came home. When I finally finished University for the second year, I cried for a week. I was a mess. The dam broke, the cork popped, the banks burst, the rain poured, the wave crashed. Out came a half year’s worth of pain in a week. It was miserable, but it brought relief.

My parents were an incredible support during that time. They helped me in ways I cannot explain. My father stayed with me and talked to me when I needed. My mother treated me in her own way, the practical way she knows by checking how my health was and seeing that I was fed. I am incredibly lucky to have a family like this, and I have not appreciated it fully in the past. Reconnecting with them like this has healed me and made us closer. Sometimes it takes a mighty fall to grasp the olive branch that was always there to support you.

After I was well enough, I started to bury my head in books again. I was looking for something and it was as a direct result of coming through the misery I had experienced. Feeling transparent, like a ghost, I had no voice. I had faded completely, become a waif with the power only to observe. I never wanted to feel like that again. It’s like dying without the privilege of blissful ignorance. A privilege (I imagine) the actual dead get to have. Nevertheless, being entombed in silence was revelatory. I knew that I never wanted to lose my voice again, and, in fact, I would spend as long as I needed to make my voice more powerful than it had ever been before.

It has been my journey in the last few months as I recover, to find my voice again. To speak up and thrust myself into the world where it was before so happy to let me exist as the whisper in the wind. We cannot be muted victims of our experiences, we must become criminally loud and make the world hear us when it would rather ignore us. From silent lowlands to cacophonic peaks, I will rally.

And here we are.

Millennials have had a difficult time finding their feet and their voice while the world looks to us in contempt or with indifference, but we have a responsibility to fight back. The litany of structures which impede us are massive. PC culture is pervasive. The left has come to experience the type of crushing silence that nearly destroyed my voice and have retaliated. It attempts to protect victims by censoring and silencing and views itself primarily as a commodity of victimhood.

I can’t allow that to be my destiny. I will take responsibility for my voice, I will push myself to be louder and make myself heard. Marcus Aurelius, the last of the five good roman emperors surmised: The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way..

  • I am not at the mercy of anyone but myself.
  • My voice is always my own.
  • I am responsible for the choices I make.

Now that we’ve arrived at this conclusion, get really damn loud about what you have to say. Let the world know you are here and that you mean to stay.

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Millennial Intent: We’ll be trying for victory, not victimisation.

This is Millennial Intent

Why are we here?

A prevailing sense of apathy, hopelessness and self-mediocritisation amongst millennials has persisted for too long and has been ratified by the media and the preceding generations. MI hopes that millennials will begin to reclaim their voices, their presence in this world, and their sense of pride in themselves. Aside from that broad aim, we are a platform for the discussion of ideas. We do not support Political Correctness or the idea of safe spaces and trigger warnings. Our content will explore some of the dark stuff as well as the light, but the point is that discussion breeds resolution. Censorship is the enemy of our generation, and if we want to bring ourselves into our place in society with power, dignity and kindness, we need to create places where censorship has no power. We hope we can at least contribute to this end by establishing an online community that supports these values and encourages individuals to claim back their often drowned out voices.

What do we do?

We write articles on millennial matters. We are starting off slow, but we want to pick up steam. This is a collective activity, but we want to be clear that we do not support collective mentality. Our articles are aimed at unique, insightful, thought-provoking topics from intelligent and independent authors. Is there a limit on scope? No! We write about anything and everything, but want to make sure it has value and intent towards the largest goal – making millennials mobilise. We want to kickstart hearts and minds with our material and that central idea underpins our creative works.

What can you do?

Because we value the individual millennial opinion, we welcome amateur writers, artists and content makers in general to get involved. We believe in collaboration and growth. If you have an idea that you want to share, we will listen. If you don’t agree with something someone else said, we will let you have your say. If you want to contribute, we will help you find a way to get into that position. What sets us apart is that this is about you, the individual voice in the crowd. So, keep that in mind. If you’re not used to writing, we can give you guidance. We want lived experiences, new insight, creative design. Learning how to put it into words is the last puzzle piece and if we like your unique insight, we won’t hesitate to give you the time and energy to get your words in order.

So, this is where we begin, and we’ll be posting more soon. Start following us to start reclaiming your voice. Let’s change minds and take back our power.

Millennial Intent.

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