Friday 21 May 2010

The Keyboard Warrior

All hail the Keyboard Warrior.

The Keyboard Warrior is great.

The Keyboard Warrior is fantastic.

The Keyboard Warrior is cool.

The Keyboard Warrior is a total arse!

Some of you may wonder what I am talking about. Allow me to enlighten you.

If you browse internet forums, write a blog or, perhaps, are a member of social networking site like Facebook, then the chances are that you have encountered or certainly will encounter a Keyboard Warrior at some stage in your online life.

And you will certainly know when you have.

What is a Keyboard Warrior?

It is basically a person who chooses to remain anonymous and travels around cyberspace, disembarking from their luxury browser onto a web site that allows feedback, comment or communication of some kind and then, rather than being civil, explodes in a fireball of rage and writes cutting, cruel and sometimes vicious things, taking out their pent up anger on poor innocent fellow internet travellers who might have written something that in some tiny way offended them.

Or he may just do it for a laugh.

I have been a victim of such a person although this particular Keyboard Warrior chose not to address me directly. I wrote a blog post about how Mr Hugh Laurie, currently a serious actor in a very popular American series called House, was once a comedy actor. Basically, not being a fan of House, I exposed his earlier works to a global audience (well those people out there who may have stumbled unwittingly on my blog) and said that, to me at least, he will always be “Stupid Prince George” from Blackadder. You can read it here

This didn’t go down very well in Russia. I didn’t exactly unleash a major international incident but I did seriously annoy a Russian Keyboard Warrior hiding behind the pseudonym Swallow. Basically Swallow said that I was a moron and that he/she hated people from my country (“I hate you Brits”). Whatever I wrote made Swallow “shake with indignation.”

I have also suffered a little on other forums. Occasionally, I have posted something that is slightly controversial, usually veiled in humour, and then been assaulted using words that I certainly cannot repeat here.

On one occasion, I commented on an American blog, where the author had written a fairly nasty post President Obama. I was flabbergasted, so, foolishly, I said something along the lines of “Don’t be so hard on your new President; he’s better than the last one.” There was nothing bad in my comment at all.

However, the response I received was full of pure venom; I was accused of “breath-taking arrogance”, accused of being a “f****ing communist” and told in no uncertain terms that I should “rot in my f***ing socialist state”. I was tempted to reply but that would have made things much worse.

I have read blog posts written by people that have, for one reason or another, attracted absolutely incredibly vicious comments from certain Keyboard Warriors who have quite simply misunderstood the point of the post or just decided to lash out for reasons best understood by themselves.

I moderate comments on my own blog and now I am glad I do.

The reason I did that initially was because I was paranoid and thought that my friends would discover the blog and perhaps post something embarrassing about me or reveal other things I did not want the whole world to see.

The truth is rather more bizarre; I have ended up revealing enough embarrassing things about myself to make anybody blush. I have been my own worst enemy.

Since seeing how other bloggers have suffered, I reckon comment moderation is probably a good thing. I do try to allow every comment but have discarded a couple in the past because they have been from Keyboard Warriors.

One particular comment that I discarded said something like:

“This blog is f****ing terrible. It is poorly laid out, badly written and utterly pointless. If I were you, I would scrap it and do something worthwhile. It is totally shit”.

My first reaction was to laugh out loud. I assumed it was a mate trying to wind me up, but then I checked who had visited the blog and worked out that the comment came from America. I don’t mind criticism but something like that simply didn’t deserve to be aired – although I have done just that – D’OH!!!

Imagine receiving a comment like that when you had just started out and were looking for constructive comments? It would potentially be soul destroying. If you are just starting out on the road to blog heaven and require some feedback then a nasty comment will almost certainly make you reconsider. Worse, it makes you question yourself and possibly make a rash decision to abandon your blog, based solely on the terrible opinions of an anonymous Keyboard Warrior who, for some insane reason, has it in for you.

If the comment I had received had said something like:

“This blog could use some improvement. First of all, the layout is a bit bland and you’re writing could also be improved. What I would do if I were you, would be too reconsider the layout, perhaps putting in a few pictures and taking a little bit more time on your posts, rereading them and refining them rather than rushing them out.”

I certainly don’t want to censor any comments at all. In fact, I would prefer people to offer constructive criticism – and preferably not anonymously.

While surfing the internet I have landed on some truly dreadful blogs but I have resisted saying that I hate them, for the simple reason that it would almost certainly offend the person who wrote the blog. Why would anybody want to do that?

If you don’t like the blog then don’t read it. It’s simple really – it’s not rocket science.

While the Keyboard Warrior might use his internet browser as a warship, sailing on a calm internet sea, attacking anything he can with his nasty weaponry, he should perhaps consider the effect he has on those he is aggressive to.

I know of at least one blogger who has considered giving up because of constant attacks from anonymous and cowardly Keyboard Warriors. I have also heard of instances where the Keyboard Warrior’s ferocity has had a physical effect causing the victim to do something even more extreme.

Such things amaze me. I am not a nasty person at all and I simply cannot fathom how anybody can write such awful things. If I disagree with a blog post, or the sentiments in a blog post, then I will either ignore it or engage in a form of dialogue by posting my thoughts in a friendly and constructive way, with a little humour, while at the same time, posting details of my blog so that the person in question can pop along and see where I am coming from.

I will conclude with this thought.

If I were being vindictive I would say that a serial Keyboard Warriors is simply a coward. My theory would be that most of these people haven’t got the courage to identify themselves and face the consequences of their words. I could, for example, imagine a spotty little nerd hiding in a quiet little room all alone, angry that he has no friends and lashing out at anybody and everybody in order to get a warped sense of satisfaction at hurting an unknown person’s feelings. Perhaps he is bullied and rather than standing up to the bully he lashes out at innocent bloggers.

If you are such a Keyboard Warrior, and my theory is correct, then imagine the horror if a victim of your nastiness somehow managed to find out who you were or where you lived. You might actually crap your pants when you think of the consequences of your actions.

Of course, I may be wrong; the Keyboard Warrior may simply have anger management problems or have had a bad day at the office.

If you are tempted to be a Keyboard Warrior, folks, please reconsider. It is much better to express your opinions in a civil manner without the need to resort to maliciousness and vitriolic comments. Take a deep breath, ponder the post that has annoyed you and walk away from the keyboard.

You will feel better for it and everybody will be happy.


Kath Lockett said...

Ah yes. Your Keyboard Warrior is my Anonymous Anal - or 'troll' in wider cyberspace terms.

I once wrote a very negative review about a very, very bad Aussie film for the local paper a few years ago and got attacked for all kinds of reasons *other* than due to the excrementally awful nature of the movie on my blog.

I decided to write a post similar to yours and asked the Anonymous Anal to identify themselves - after all, I'm pretty open on my blog, my full name is in the paper etc. Never heard a word from 'em since.

Plastic Mancunian said...

G'Day Kath,

There is no way Anonymous Anal would ever reveal themselves because, if my theory is correct, he or she is a coward.

I like the term "troll" - I'd heard it but never quite connected it with a Keyboard Warrior.




Pegasus Kelly said...

I recently came across a blog regarding a controversial American issue that one of my favourite authors had inadvertently become a temporary focal point for. As I read the comments it struck me that anyone who had something constructive to offer to the topic was using a real name. Anyone who was making a personal attack on the author (who was not at all at fault) was hiding behind a pseudonym.
As you say, these people are cowards. They can bully and attack with no fear of retribution, often hiding behind that American vehicle of bigotry "free speech" while trying to deny that right to others.
The Keyboard Warrior is a total arse! Hear hear.

River said...

Damn. I've just timidly launched my own little blog. Now, should I worry?

Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi PK,

That's totally true and I've found the same. It would be easy for me to comment on blogs as "anonymous" and be abusive but I simply culdn't do it.

OK, "The Plastic Mancunian" is a pseudonym but I am traceable and also willing to reveal my true identity.

I say that you can totally disagree with people's points without being abusive - my recent post on Shakespeare proved this, where I invited people who disagreed - and people arrived and told me why but were totally civil about it.

And that's exactly what I wanted.




Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi River,

Of course you shouldn't worry. But you may encounter a Keyboard Warrior or "Troll" (I love that term).

The best bet is to either ignore them or shame them. I would certainly back you up.

Now then, where's this blog of yours?




Scars Beneath The Skin said...

I get so few comments on ANY of my 3 blogs I'd probably welcome the attentions of a Keyboard Warrior!

Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi Andy,

I don't think you would - but I shall pop over to your blogs and comment if you like.




bingkee said...

I have encountered a lot of these cantankerous miserable keyboard warriors-----berating others with their excess trash on to someone under the guise of an alias behind a PC and a keyboard.
Some are not anonymous coz some of them are bloggers like Sheila Sultani of, and some are just using aliases with false email addresses. One even posted comments on 2 of my posts----saying I have bad grammar, and then another comment saying that "I can blog anyway as much as I want to " because it's the internet anyway.....I was more amused than pissed because it not shows how dumb he is , but also because his comments reflect his "angry, mean, hostile nature".....
So many, many, that I had blocked 45 ISP's meaning.
At first, I used to cry, and got down in the dumps but in the end, I learned how to deal with it.
You are right---people like them are not only "miserable and dumb" but "cowards."
But now I like the attention and time they pour on to me-----imagine, they spend time on me while trying to tell me they hate me......hahahahah

bingkee said...

Oh I must add, those people like the keyboard warriors comment as if they are the right----when they did not understand what you had posted.
Clearly, most of my "bashers" do not understand my post---because they don't read the whole thing or read more than what it is written (meaning, read something that is not there and therefore , they add something to it from their imagination), and also because they just read the blog title or the post title......and they conclude.
Recently, I must presume that you read it in my blog , I had encountered a keyboard warrior who posted a whole article about my comment . "As for me , my reading tip is read and read---it does improve writing." He did not agree with my comment and posted a whole new article about it telling his readers that "reading only teaches plagiarism" and bashing me for my comment. What was mean about my comment? What was wrong with it? So I posted another comment that he should not be harsh on me because I am entitled to my own comment and that my comment was just a suggestion, a writing tip.
Then he posted another article again , this time dedicating the whole post in attacking me calling me a backstabber. Me? A backstabber? I'd been dissed and hated because I say what I want to say openly and now I'm a backstabber????Hahahhaah! I learned that the author is a Malaysian 60 year old single (never been married ) man. He acts like he's 12. Hehehehe!

Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi Bingkee,

I am aware that you have been a victim of the Keyboard Warrior and I have been utterly amazed because there is nothing in your posts that I am aware of that deserves such responses - and, of course, there doesn't need to be because some Keyboard Warriors, as I suggested, do it for kicks.

How bizarre to criticise grammar; I know that I make mistakes - who cares? I don't.

Anyway, the best thing to do is shame them or ignore them and, most important of all, do not let them stop you doing what you are doing. They don't have the right to do that.

Keep on blogging Bingkee.




Mind Of Mine said...

This has been one of my favourite blog posts for a long while.

I have not yet felt the wrath of Keyboard Warrior, I look forward to when I do.

Well done on the post.

For the record, I think your posts are very well written :)

Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi Mind of Mine,

To be honest, I look forward to the next encounter with a Keyboard Warrior too - its almost a challenge.




P.S. Thanks for the compliment. :-)

Mind Of Mine said...

I got one today!


drb said...

I am glad that you didn't scrap your blog after that nasty comment.
Your blog is one of the most witty and even made my very discerning half chuckled.

Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi Mind of Mine,

I trust you dealt with the Keyboard Warrior in a suitable manner ...




Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi drb,

I have a thick skin and won't be put off by the Keyboard Warrior.




Nomad said...

I am really rather fond of your blog. I have a long reading list so I don't get around to reading every blog post but every time I do, I have to say that your writing style is so natural and relaxed and your observations are so clever that I rarely notice minor details like grammar mistakes.

As far as the keyboard warriors, aren't they simply an example of frustrated angry people who suddenly find themselves able to spew their own special brand of carbolic acid at people without any repercussions and without taking any responsibility for the remarks? All "faceless" people tend to be dangerous.

If, for some reason, you wish to see the grimy smelly underbelly of humanity, just stop in at any comment section of a news site, like CNN or Huffington Post. I had, on several occasions, had people jumping down my throat about something I had written, only to come back and acknowledge that my opinion was exactly the same as theirs!

Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi Nomad,

That's very kind of you. As I said, I've had a few "brushes" with keyboard warriors - I even met a guy from a message board who had hurled a torrent of abuse dismissing my opinion - and guess what? He was as nice as pie but admitted to being a "wind up merchant". I can't do that. If I have something bad to say I prefer not to say it. I wish certain other folks were more like that.

Thanks for another great comment.




Anonymous said...

Great article, just what I was looking for.