midweek madness: some amusing light-hearted bitchiness

Recently, I found an offshoot of one of my favourite sites these days, the BeautyBash Board (BB). Now, BB is itself already a most instructive site; often in all the wrong ways, but still. I’ve learned a lot from it, for which I’m grateful. The (anonymous but BB-associated) Ballad of Anna Kate adds some useful materials about the mechanisms of contemporary older-female-trolling.

This here post also features a hypothesis about the rise of the LOL and suchlike 🙂 and two exemplary cases of trolling.

[UPDATE August 2013: a message specially for you visitors here from MakeupAlley’s Café board: this blog and these issues are still very much alive and well, and there’s updates specially for you at the end of this post 🙂 May we all live happily ever after! Yes, even trolls, if rehabilitated and reintegrated harmoniously into civil society. While there’s life, there’s hope.]

[back to original post]

See, online back in the early ’90s, not only the trolls but pretty much most people were young and male. This changed and opened up a bit, over time. But most trolls I’ve met online, in my various avatars and in various venues, have been male and either teenagers or middle-aged. Female–or at least feminine-voice— trolls of the kind who aren’t really involved with tech or feminism (or basically other classically-nerdy activities)–they’re quite a different species.

You may recall my saying, way back when, that this here blog is amateur and non-commercial. It’s OK, that’s still true. But I come across a lot of material online that’s highly relevant to my work IRL. Increasingly so. It’s quite exciting–I’m wondering if and when the two will converge.

In the meantime, I find things like BB genuinely interesting in a way that I’m guessing most people just find weird. I feel like a cross between an anthropologist and a xenobiologist? It’s probably a little hyperbolic to put makeup-obsessing and beauty-bashing on the same level as Ursula K. Le Guin’s worlds. The latter feel less alien to me. MUA-trolls and BBers are providing fascinating and valuable research-materials. A living laboratory… though I can’t publish anything directly, for ethical reasons re. consent for experimenting on human subjects.

If that’s not over-intellectualizing everything, I don’t know what is.

There is over-psychologizing, though.

Ladies and gents, I offer you—with apologies for presumptuousness, on behalf of its anonymous lost writer—The Ballad of Anna Kate.

Box of chocolates in the post to anyone who can transpose this charming gem into actual ballad form, to my satisfaction.

Also, this is a good excuse for some pictures of lady trolls. In all shapes, sizes, and temperaments.

c/o Sorority Life, “Sisters” Forums. A real geek would, of course, bite their nasty little heads off. More cute troll images in that there thread, it’s a good one.

Do excuse the smiley–I’m starting to think this might be understandable, or understood, as an Americanism and a sign of cultural difference.

A DIGRESSION ON “LOL”

That thing they call “British humour” on this continent –especially south of the border–is distinct, and representative of a cultural distinctness: for one, it doesn’t need LOLs or smileys to signal “joke.”

Well, at levels above lowest chavvery anyway. Inhabitants of the Western Atlantic Archipelago would of course distinguish various forms of mainstream and indie humour, styles popularized by Footlights and the BBC and music-hall and working men’s clubs, plus a cornucopia of national, regional, class, ethnic, and special-interest varieties. But the point is, that even back in the 18th century, when there were such things as American and British (and Scottish) high intellectual cultures–without the range of verbalized-and-recorded culture we have today–there’s already noticeable differences in humour. Take any satirical pamphlet (or more recent equivalent) written in English and you can tell if it’s American or not. Unless it’s more recent, of a hipster persuasion, and/or has otherwise has suffered the indignity of BBC radio & TV comedy influence.

As with so much across the border, for good or for ill, I’d side with Tocqueville and blame the Puritans. Oh, OK, and the rich array of descendants, of the flesh and in the spirit: inbred rednecks, survivalists, fundamentalists, nutjobs and godbags, high financiers, crass capitalists, consumer(ist)s, [insert your American stereotypes here], etc.

LOL. Not.*

As it were.

I should apologize: you see, not being an American, this sort of thing doesn’t come to me naturally. But a first step in learning a thing is to practice it, modelling one’s copies on the masters. Practice makes perfect–then once one’s achieved mastery of a technique, one can progress to actually doing shizz with it. And you’ll recall anyway, boys and girls, that imitation is the highest form of flattery.

It’s polite to try to speak someone else’s language, and try to bridge communicative and cross-cultural gaps. It’s a great way to enrich your own vocabulary, too. So: yes, I will LOL from time to time, when circumstances dictate, context suggests, or indeed if I am actually, you know, laughing out loud. Ditto for falling off chairs onto floor, etc.

LOLing is also a great defusing and calming device. Good for moving discussion in a different, more positive direction; or just to change tack and divert attention.

On which:

Look!

Here’s me!

Me, in a few years’ time, when I’m post-ginger. Uncanny:

EXAMPLE OF OBVIOUS TROLLING

BeautyBash message board:

BB poll time: Which SCB hag do you want deleted into oblivion?- Your choices are…. 09:32:55 08/21/2011

godfuckingdamnit hannebash i told you to add like seven other names to this list you’re fucking pissing me off not following instructions check your PM on MUA STAT -aurevoirlesenfants 15:51:07 08/21/2011

Godfuckingdamnit jetfan or avironneur! I know one of you posted this. Guess what bitch/faggot? I’m the OP and I’m neither hannebash or aurevoirlesenfant! Surprise surprise! – Lotsa people don’t like you on skincare board. Look at yesterday’s board – IPs were shown and guess what? People all over the US don’t like you! LMFAO 21:02:39 08/21/2011

NOTES:
(1) primary-school style of language, behaviour, concept of what’s insulting, and value-system;
(2) lack of useful (or: any actual) statistical information or analysis;
(3) “all over the US” includes the slough of despond that is the middle of that country. ‘Nuff said?;
(4) reminder–just in case: these are BB-names, not necessarily MUA-names, other-online-names, IRL-names, etc. Just making that totally clear.

For a more elaborate take, see the BBAvengerPublic Service Announcement for All Sane Bashers” blog (before my time; 2008-11). With screenshots. A wealth of historical data.

Meanwhile–my thanks to one of my MUA regular correspondents for this:

Do a skinboard only search for the word “lotsa” (since this is an incommonly used incorrect contraction of “lots of”) and tell me what you find 🙂

Curious, isn’t it?

Here’s what you find: bearing in mind, again, as ever, that these are online, fictitious identities and bear no necessary relation to the real world…

  • 32 occurrences of <lotsa>
  • aurevoirlesenfants = 26
    hannebash = 1 (café regular, possible associate, some evidence of at least troll-lite behaviour)
    TooLitteInfo = 1 (café regular)
    lolilea = 1 (almost all hair; a/c since 7/2009, board activity since 05/2011)
    fuzzybluelogic = 1 (mainly a makeup board regular)
    pandalvr = 1 (recent account: mainly skincare board, also some fashion, makeup, hair)
    shimmersweetie = 1 (mainly makeup and hair)

Comparative searches mark this as an individual, idiosyncratic lexico-stylistic usage. An aberration. Deviation from the norm. Sticks out like a sore thumb. That obvious pattern does not reappear on other boards:

  • lotsa on café board = 3
    Hummingbirdy = 1 (mixed activity: café, makeup, fashion–not an obsessive regular)
    imitation = 1 (member since 11/2009; café bar one post on fragrance; only active since 08/14/2011)
    giggitygoonotgone = 1 (mainly café; some fashion; some others)
  • lotsa on all boards: mixed use, all boards; the term is most used on the makeup and nail boards.
  • lotsa on makeup board = 102. Range of users.
    Earliest archived use (on all boards) = VivienneLynn, 2/24/2011 6:18:00PM.
    Early adopters and frequent users = Naadia, heechul; also cadabeijos, leeleebell, muppetmayhem (all TTBOMK plain old regular MU board regulars).
  • lotsa on nail board = 100. Range of users; Love8Brain the most frequent.

NOTES:

  • “aurevoirlesenfants” (“lacombelucien,” as I prefer to think of her) has subsequently (2011-08-23) been deleted.
  • none of the uses on boards other than SC were by lacombelucien; ex. the three café users of the term seem “normal” and unrelated.
  • a gap between start of account and start of activity sometimes corresponds to a dormant account, with multiple account being set up at the same time.
  • sometimes that’s for trolling purposes.
  • sometimes it’s not. Sometimes it’s someone who got an account so as to use MUA passively, as an information resource.
  • it can take people a long time before they start posting on boards or otherwise move inot active / interactive MUAing. Ex. I started reading the site, passively, in about 2004; only started an account in 2007; started posting on boards quite a while after.
  • while “lotsa” may be  poor English–barely acceptable if used in a comic, parodic, or satirical context; or for levelling / didactic purposes–its use does not indicate that the user is a troll.
    That would be a LOGIC EPIC FAIL FACEDESK ALERT.
  • Yes, for the record, of course I can be as bitchy and snarky as anyone else. I’m human, FFS. And being human is the point.

EXAMPLE OF CLASSIC TROLLING

Here’s a splendid stellar example of trolling. Also featuring board-hogging and thread necrophilia. (Update to update: the whole thread has subsequently been removed from MUA by the administrators. For just reason, as you’ll see…):

Fair question. Received honest answers. Various. Then:

Necrophilia exacerbated by bringing up irrelevant past history. The two key trolls in operation here have activity-patterns that coincide historically with an increase in trolling activity on MUA’s skincare and green boards. The former: account started 11/13/2006, first board activity 2/21/2011. The latter:  2/11/2009 and 3/12/2011. That February-March period seems to be the critical one for this year’s troll-wave; with another peak in mid-May (school out?), and another towards the end of July (overheating brains?).

I emailed admin right after I’d said “thread gone off-topic: peeps: a reminder of the rules? the last two comments are flag-worthy.” Because I’m a goody two-shoes. And that’s exactly the sort of thing I’d have done the last time I met this kind of silly behaviour: that was when I was a schoolkid. From primary through early teens I was bullied, and I told teachers. The other thing I did was write satirical pieces in school magazines. Plus ça change. Eventually the bullying decreased: more c/o ex-bullies’ themselves enjoying satire and growing up, than c/o teachers.

[Ed. UPDATES: August 2013]

This post has received a lot of traffic from MUAers on the Café board, possibly because it appears high on Google searches for “beautybash messageboard.” That data appears in this blog’s stats, in the form of the URLs on MUA from which traffic has come to this here blog. These stats stay here for ever. Because WordPress is good like that.

Hello there http://www.makeupalley.com/m_161083994 !

Good news, visiting MUAers: beautybash would appear to be dead.

If that’s bad news to you… Well now: Why were you looking for that dross? Life must be dull if BB was entertaining to you; that’s sad, and I’m sorry you have a shitty life. Were you missing BB? Were you a regular there, who’s been cut off and set adrift in exile? Sorry. That is, I’m sorry but I have no sympathy for you. Get a fucking life, and while you’re at it, have a long serious look at yourself and a long serious think about whether you’ve been a troll, harassed people, and a bully. That’s despicable, but—as the fine movie Despicable Me shows—it’s never too late to change.

If this is good news to you because you’ve been harassed (be that minorly, like me; or majorly):

  1. (((hugs)))
  2. HAPPY DANCE!!!

Don’t take BB’s kind of crap. It’s unacceptable.

Don’t engage with the bullies either.

One “third way” solution: blog about it, somewhere else, but that’s public. Writing can be good for you, stress relief. If you manage to be witty and funny and write good satire, that’s good for others and for the web by increasing the sum total of human happiness. It might also help other people who are bullied. It could give them some practical tips on what to do; or, in my case, usually what not to do. It could give them strength, to see they’re not alone. Even if your situations are very different (while online bullying can be horrific and lead to tragedy, even low-grade meanness is still dispiriting), showing solidarity is a good thing. It might make someone else feel better and happier, it’s almost guaranteed to do so for you too, and it makes the web a better place.

Pink Manhattan was trolled badly—mocked, bullied, stalked, threatened—but responded by writing most excellently about her experience, its aftermath, and her reactions and reflections: “The Dark Side of Makeup Forums” (2012-07-11). It’s a great piece of writing: poignant without moping, angry without being bitter, open, and strong without losing an ounce of humanity. I wish I’d read it when I first encountered the Beautybash Board; or that we’d been able to compare notes. Alas, I was first trolled by BBB (including this post here, one response to the BB crap) before PM’s time. Which is a shame for both of us.

I would very much like to give PM a hug. Consider this comment a virtual e-hug.

(((hugs)))

See also (from August 2013):

Image at top: MySpace 

* Post on irony in the works: yes, there will be Plato. DONE: set of three Socratic posts.

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