So yesterday I banned someone from my blog for the first time, though hopefully not the last. I mean, what a rush, right? To finally have the opportunity to exert my unilateral will over another person and exile them from my domain, to be filled with the joy of embracing my masculinity in a confrontation. No, to wield my digital dominance makes me more than a man – truly, for one moment, I was as the kings of old, elevated by my glory, less a man… than a god.
And, of course, by doing so I prevented myself from being exposed to any more of the dangers that this commenter posed to my own self-satisfied sense of righteousness and wisdom. My whole identity is wrapped up in being certain that I am always good and right at all times, and everyone else is a half-thinking monster. Brave truth-tellers who challenge my ideological declarations could undermine my certainty and thus send me spiralling into an abyss of horror and shame as I could no longer hide from the fundamental realities of the world, in whose shining surfaces I must see myself as I truly am: weak and without principle, fearfully scraping together flimsy rationalisations to convince myself that my failings are somehow pathetically virtuous.
In the words of Socrates: lol no.
I’m not going to write up a formal policy on commenting or banning, because I don’t think it would be a good use of my time to create it or anyone else’s time to read it. I’m not interested in rules-lawyering with anyone about the definition of ‘polite’ or ‘constructive’. If I want you gone, you’ll be gone, and rapidly forgotten for anything except the horrified amusement you may have brought me during your visit. Cries of ‘freedom of speech’ will not move me.* Claims that I am an ideological dictator will not faze me.
Here is a useful fact to understand, if you are the type of person whose behaviour often gets described as ‘trolling’: you don’t matter to me. As yesterday’s comment thread illustrates, I will certainly discuss issues with people who disagree with me, in a manner corresponding to their own civility. But I am far too cynical to imagine that somehow my blog will be the one thing that finally turns you around (if I think you’re misguided) and your continued self-inflicted suffering, while perhaps tragic, will not tug at my heartstrings. I have been clear and honest on this matter before: I am not nice. I do try to be good (true story, I saved a lost old blind dog wandering in traffic yesterday and returned it to its owner), and I attempt to simulate ‘nice’ when it seems appropriate, but I would have to think you’re worth the effort. And it is so, so easy to decide that trolls aren’t worth the effort. My base level of caring is low.
Chances are good that the only purpose this post will have in the long run is that I might link to it when I next encounter a troll that I haven’t decided whether to ban or not. Guess we’ll see. If you are a troll looking to maintain a long career, do pay attention to what finally resulted in yesterday’s banning: not disagreeing with me, not advocating for dudes’ rightness in ignoring other people’s personal decisions and agency – the banning was for using a slur after being told not to (and being told what the consequences were).
For reals, don’t do that. (Or do, and feed my hunger for power and validation. A god, I tell you.)
*Also, in Canada, we have this thing called the ‘notwithstanding clause’ (section 33) in our Charter of Rights and Freedoms which, essentially, says that Parliament can ignore most of the really good freedoms and rights whenever it feels like it, as long as they acknowledge that they’re doing so and they vote again in favour of it once every five years.