The artefact could have taken a different approach and focused on a different aspect of trolling, for example: how easy it is to send an offensive anonymous message and the amount of damage it is capable of doing. Another potential flaw is that people who troll are all different; some do it just for the hell of it or do it for the enjoyment of watching others suffer. Whilst others might do it as a form of revenge because they are powerless to do it outside of the virtual world that is the internet. I do wonder if I made my trolling side of the artefact a little bit too amusing to the audience (because they did laugh at some points) and whether this was side-tracking the audience from the real meaning. Have I shown power in my artefact? I was worried about the answer. By showing the troll being powerless in real life because he was either bulled or taken advantage of by others made him seem much more powerful when he was in a trolling state at his computer – but would the audience know that is was the same person? Hence what anonymity was about – the fact that the trolls face was hidden behind a mask (the troll face mask ironically) demonstrated that he could be anyone to do whatever he wanted. On a technical note the artefact was the first time I had shot anything on a DSLR and with split screen in mind. Overall I think it was a good piece, but difficult to pull off; many people do not know why trolls abuse others and my piece shows a potential reason for why, they are sometimes victims themselves. Additionally most internet trolls do not get discovered because they are much more careful, but when they are caught one can see the damage they are capable of.
The shot list was simple, easy to follow and due to the potential offense that could be caused by trolling I chose to imply that trolling had occurred. With this in mind, no trolling occurred during the making of my artefact, even though it appeared that it might have (just carefully edited and manipulated).
Some acts of trolling had to be changed however, for example creating a forum or board specifically designed to troll people was deemed too offensive and trolling a couple would be difficult to portray as there are would be more than one victim.
The biggest piece of feedback I received from the group seminar sessions was that the audience would focus solely on one side of the screen – the side where the troll was posting abusive messages. From start to finish the left side demonstrated the troll in real life, and right side demonstrated him trolling on a variety of social networking sites. The trolling sequences were somewhat amusing and interesting, and due to the nature of my camera work the audience would need to focus a great deal on the screen to see what was going on. This was intentional to demonstrate the furious, ruthless and unending nature of the troll. To combat the issue from rough cut to final cut: I kept switching the left and right parts of the artefact after the very first troll. This somewhat confused the audience at first but worked better for two reasons: the viewer would get a glimpse of the troll in real life before switching focus to him trolling over the internet. Secondly, since the audience was left to deduce the fact that the troll is doing the actions on both sides of the screen, the switching gave the audience more of a clue that they are the same person demonstrating that whilst you are anonymous, you can be anyone.
My biggest challenge was to get the split screen working in unison, otherwise it would be just two random videos placed next together with no effect. The fact they were both contrasting in the sense that one was in the digital world and the other in the real world, yet both abuse made it comparable.
The message at the end ‘Do not feed the troll’ was a last minute thought, but I believe that it has as very strong message when understood. It means that no matter how someone insults you online – ignore it, a troll feeds on your reaction and anger. By responding to an insult you are merely making the troll succeed. Finding a free music track was easier than I thought thanks to the creative commons section on Soundcloud – a fast paced track matched the quick pace of the artefact and gave it more depth with its technological/robotic feel. It was only easy because my artefact only required one good track, maybe not so much if I needed multiple.
My power artefact is based on the power of being anonymous presented from the perspective of an internet troll. I believe that it is the anonymity that gives trolls the power to do what they do online; having their identities hidden grants them a greater amount of confidence to do so. Ideally I want to focus on one character (the troll) by showing the audience what he does and why whilst drawing upon inspiration from the media. Below is a potential shot list idea for the production of my artefact. Since the artefact will be split into two screens each column will represent part of the screen.
|Troll – the power of being anonymous over the internet
|Troll over the internet|
|Walking down the street, alone, head down with a complete and total lack of confidence
|Troll sitting in front of the computer wearing a troll mask – camera pans towards the screen – screen with 4 windows open – Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Google +
|He sees a couple walking down the street – troll instantly feels jealous and angry
|He finds the couple online via Facebook and tells them that they look crap as a couple and should stop seeing each other, also tells the boyfriend that he cheated with his girlfriend
|The troll’s only ‘friends’ rip him and make fun of him
|The troll sets up a forum or group that aims to help bully victims but instead has the intention of making fun of them
|At work, his employer shouts at him for ‘being useless’ and ‘less performing’ than any other worker
|Troll photoshops his employer’s picture to make him look humorous with the intention of defaming him and uploads it|
|A group of people walk past the troll and intimidate him by shoving him off the road
|The troll finds a video on YouTube and posts a ‘death threat’ video response -> death_threat.mp4
|The troll’s parents shout at him for being useless and that he should move out of the house
|The troll mocks a tribute page of a recently deceased young person|
|The troll plays a game of football and gets tackled and destroyed throughout parts of the game
|He sends a very offensive message to a footballer on Twitter saying that he sucks, his football skills are terrible and that his family are not proud of him
My research demonstrated that trolls themselves had been affected by some kind of abuse or pressure in real life with little or no way of dealing with it. Similarly my character will be faced with light abuse and consequently troll online due to having a sense of power.
‘Internet trolling’ is a fairly new phenomena that has been appearing more and more often in the media. Whilst its definition varies across news articles, the most accurate definition of an internet troll is “One who posts a deliberately provocative message to a newsgroup or message board with the intention of causing maximum disruption and argument” (UrbanDictionary.com). However, trolls can reach out to almost any part of the internet, including popular social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook. Looking at recent events in the news – what trolls have done and why.
Notable cases include the Twitter troll Reece Messer who taunted the Olympic diver Tom Daley with the messages like: “you let your dad down i hope you know that.” Once these tweets were brought to the attention of the public, the troll was forced to apologise. Whilst Tom Daley is a celebrity and has the power of his followers to expose this troll, other users are not so fortunate. Messer was described as a “product of a broken, dysfunctional upbringing” living an isolated life, constantly getting into trouble and surviving on many state benefits.
Then there was Sean Duffy, a Facebook troll who was jailed for mocking multiple teen tribute pages. He posted offensive videos on YouTube taunting the dead and their families, photoshopped offensive pictures and even created fake tribute pages in their name. Duffy was described as an individual who lived an isolated life and had been bullied himself at school and work, and was given a prison sentence due to the severity of his trolling.
Recently a Reddit user was unmasked as ‘the biggest troll on the internet’ for posting and moderating disturbing content on a variety of Reddit sub-forums. The content was vile and kept gaining notoriety until Michael Brutsch was exposed as the man behind it all. What’s interesting for me is not what he did, but why he did it. Using his anonymity, writing offensive messages and encouraging others to do the same enabled him to deal with the stress of working as a computer programmer. He also got the biggest thrill from setting up web forums with sinister names and posting controversial content into them. ‘I do my job, go home watch TV, and go on the internet. I just like riling people up in my spare time.’ He said in an interview, and that he needed to keep his anonymity to protect his ability to express things many people think but hardly anyone says.
All of these trolls have one thing in common: once they are discovered, named and shamed all their acts of internet trolling suddenly stop and of course: apologies. Their power of anonymity disappears once they are discovered.
Adrian Chen. (2012). Unmasking Reddit’s Violentacrez, The Biggest Troll on the Web. Available: http://gawker.com/5950981/unmasking-reddits-violentacrez-the-biggest-troll-on-the-web. Last accessed 1st Nov 2012.
BBC. (2012). Facebook ‘troll’ Sean Duffy sentenced for offensive Sophie Taylor image. Available: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-north-east-orkney-shetland-17385042. Last accessed 1st Nov 2012.
Daily Mail Reporter. (2012). Internet troll behind Reddit ‘Creepshot’ forum where users post sexual pictures of unsuspecting girls fired from his job after his identity is revealed Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/arti. Available: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2218204/Michael-Brutsch-Internet-troll-Reddit-Creepshot-forum-fired.html . Last accessed 1st Nov 2012.
Paul Cockerton. (2012). “You let your dad down”: Twitter troll taunts Tom Daley about dead father after diver misses out on Olympics medal. Available: http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/tom-daley-twitter-troll-taunts-1190741. Last accessed 1st Nov 2012.
Steven Morris. (2011). Internet troll jailed after mocking deaths of teenagers. Available: http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2011/sep/13/internet-troll-jailed-mocking-teenagers. Last accessed 1st Nov 2012
Establishing an idea for a power artefact has been rather challenging due to the immense broadness of the term. However, the artefact must feature split screen or compositing which allows one to think more specifically. For me, split screen means showing two things to the audience at once efficiently. So I could look at opposites, different meanings or viewpoints to a specific thing or action or a fancy artistic way of presenting footage.
I have come up with three potential artefact ideas that revolve around different concepts of ‘power’:
The power a drug dealer has over his addicts and the power drug addicts give to him. For example, the dealer relies on the addict for a constant supply of money and the drug addict relies on the dealer for his constant source of addiction. One party needs the other, and vice versa to be able to function. Left – the drug dealer counting his money, his contacts, his expensive lifestyle; right – the addict scavenging for cash, in his trash surroundings. The exchange itself when both parties meet merges together in the power artefact and then splits again when the addict walks off and administers the drug and the dealer counts the cash.
The power of being anonymous over the Internet, presented through the viewpoint of an online troll. It could show the power the troll has whilst using social network sites like Facebook/Twitter/YouTube and the immense confidence that he has whilst online. The fact that he does not need to show his face or reveal his identity gives him strength and power to do anything he wants on any website. On the other hand it could show him having almost no confidence in the real world and acting like a coward in various situations. Left – the troll posting offensive comments, right – being bullied himself in real life.
The universal symbol(s) of power and what they relate to. For example, the literal ‘power symbol’ (and its variations) used on almost all electronic devices and equipment. Maybe the use of the ‘high voltage’ symbol around electrical equipment and power stations, warning people of the danger of electricity or the universal nuclear power symbol. Left – the power symbol, right – what one button can achieve.
After much consideration I have decided to focus on the second idea. Internet trolls are being more and more common with the rise of social networking sites and internet forums, but what is their nature in doing so. I want to explore the concept of anonymity in a negative way – what one can achieve if his identity is hidden. The first idea is a sound one, but it just seems cliché and unoriginal by the amount of publicity drugs get. Whilst the third idea is a good one, it is too simplistic in nature and does not really capture the essence of true ‘power’ for me.