Internet trolls suck. Trolls can make the internet really fun.
Both of those opinions have some truth to them, like most things in life. So, what does Arizona want to do? Screw’em all and start making it illegal to troll on the internet in any way, shape, or form, simply because someone might get offended. They’re doing this as a part of Arizona’s new “We Don’t Understand How The World Works And We’re Frightened By Change” initiative that aims to make Arizona the perfect state for old people that think ethnic people were born out of the bacteria crapped out by white people and the human race should have stopped innovating when we created the telegraph.
Both the state house and senate have passed a bill that would make it illegal to post messages online that “terrify, intimidate, threaten, harass, annoy, or offend.” The problem here is, those first three are noble and should be stopped, even though doing it via state mandate is an iffy prospect, at best. The fourth is understandable, but kind of vague and can be interpreted as many different things and would also be difficult to police. The fifth and six words – fuck you. There’s absolutely no way any governing body, state or federal, will be able to stop people from being annoying or offensive on the internet. Being annoying and offensive on the internet are some of the inalienable rights passed down to us from above by Keyboard Cat, Cthulhu, videos of dudes getting hit in the dick, and the rest of the polytheistic pantheon of gods that lord over the internet.
Does it suck to be trolled? I’m an internet writer, so yeah, it does. I know from plenty of firsthand experience. It is my humble opinion that you’ve never actually seen the true face of the internet until you’ve A) created something and posted it on the internet, and B) have been called a “nigger faggot, or something along those almost cartoonishly offensive lines, because of it.
For better or worse, that’s what the internet is. It’s free speech that always exists on the edge between acceptable and dangerous. The beauty of the internet exists in the power of the users and the people running the individual sites. Every website that allows for some form of open discussion is like a little digital country with its own laws, ethical boundaries, and moral codes. Some websites are run by ruthless dictators that will ban people left and right for any little thing, but users will only be arrested if, for the lack of the better word and phrase, shit gets too real. It’s all just 1s and 0s anyway. The internet isn’t even a real place. Very few internet interactions are meaningful, on the grand scale of things. Most are forgettable, even if you’re being called a “nigger faggot” but some regressive, hateful chump that, most of the time, wouldn’t have the balls to say that in public, let alone to your face.
That’s what ends up being the biggest problem with most laws regarding speech on the internet. The internet, far more than out in the real world, is self-governing. Also, it’s very difficult to punch someone over the internet, mostly because human arms are not long enough and Ethernet cables are too thin to comfortably fit human appendages. And the parts of it that get out of hand, the parts that lead to dangerous real world consequences, can easily be avoided by showing some signs of intelligence. For example, it probably isn’t a good idea to try to kill someone because they talked shit about you online. Many internet users already know this. Many of us don’t take things that far because we know it’ll make us look petty and stupid.
The internet doesn’t need government watchdogs, ready to pounce whenever someone’s feelings get hurt. Again, the idealism behind the bill is nice, but there’s just no way it can be implemented without a lot of people getting falsely accused in the process. But, hey, that doesn’t matter, right? This is Arizona we’re talking about!
Arizona: Come for the hate, stay because our views on the world haven’t changed in over a century.