What's evil? Evil is tearing down instead of building, killing rather than nurturing, destroying rather than enhancing, and it's thrust in our faces online every day, in a clever strategy to destroy our nation's strength.
I'd never heard of Web Trolls before reading this article in the New York Times describing "agitators who pop up, often anonymously, sometimes in mobs, in comment threads and on social networks like Facebook and Twitter, apparently intent on wreaking havoc." The writer, Farhad Manjoo, notes "The term is vague precisely because trolls lurk in darkness; their aims are unclear, their intentions unknown, their affiliations mysterious."
They harass, insult, provide graphically horrific images and demean, in comments on all sorts of websites and social media. The article describes Zelda Williams, daughter of suicide-victim Robin Williams, quitting Twitter after trolls posted vile epithets and gruesomely-altered images of her father. Gawker subsidiary Jezebel played "whac-a-mole with a sociopathic Hydra" trying to clear their site of sickening graphics trolls emblazoned with the site logo.
People speculate about Internet Trolls. Some say these are lonely people, seeking the attention available to them under anonymous conditions, on a powerful platform. I don't think it's solely mean-spirited individuals, though certainly these people are out there. I scoff at conspiracies, but think it worthwhile to look at this phenomenon on a broader scale, considering trolls' cumulative damage.
Everyone's heard of corporate espionage, undercover sabotage and political dirty tricks. But these personal assaults and visual affronts are deeper, and worse. Here's why:
Our nation's strength, the factor that sets us apart from all others, is America's founding based on religious ideals. God's Hand on America is consistently discernible, and in fact, my husband is completing a book that details the many awe-inspiring historical incidents that can only reveal God's intervention. Americans, the vast majority religiously connected, are civil, kind, idealistic, altruistic and eschew corruption. Our nation reveres our and others' freedoms to the point where detractors use the term "imperialistic" as an accusation.
These biblically-mandated values are so central to American national identity that many credit our strength and power directly to our larger allegiance to God, and more specifically, our Judeo-Christian orientation.
Nations or movements that seek our harm or demise realize they can weaken us by undermining our values, morals and civility. Trolls make America vulnerable by disintegrating our standards.
Trolls place before our eyes images of gore, cruelty and torture to desensitize us, making us just like them. They take advantage of an open minded culture loathe to censor and restrict--so we end up absorbing and abetting these offensive and shocking images. In the name of free expression, insults, rudeness, crass terms and snarkiness mushroom on the web, and with each view tangibly damage America's spirit.
We are growing less shame-able and shock-able every day we confront trolls' postings, every time we allow these disgusting images and insults to appear unchallenged.
The goodness and decency that encourages God's continued protection and guidance are eroded by these real, though amorphous forces of evil. It's important to scrub them, talk about them, combat them vocally and stridently. If not, we just succumb to their clever scheme to bring down America, one click at a time.