Author Topic: Wooden nickels

Wooden nickels
« on: July 20, 2005 »
As I sit here, or rather stand, like Hemmingway used to when writing (we have much in common, including time served as the love slave of Martha Gellhorn), my thoughts turn to the work of the carpenters and masons who built my fortress of solitude.

The bricks are straight and true and the floor is solid oak. I have no doubt it will be here long after the torch is passed to some bright-eyed young thing clutching his or her degree in the hospitality science. Little did the craftsmen know when they picked up their tools to build this combination of mad folly and high tech yet strangely medieval dungeon that not much use would be made of it.

Granted, the mere sight of its foreboding towers is enough to send chills down the spine of most who would otherwise attempt to breach the walls of acf. But what of the innards - my cell - furnished with utility over comfort, empty but for the spare volumes which sit scattered on the shelves? When calling for the contractors, did Mr. Have A Little Faith ever consider what it might be like to actually be the sole breathing inhabitant of The Hotel California? I think not.

So my mind roams, as minds were built to do by their creator, be it God or the Devil. Lately the gray matter has been contemplating the subject of trolls.

Believe it or not I have scarcely given them a synapse worth of electricity, despite my very obvious mandate. I have many other activities to occupy myself, including continuing work on my memoirs, tentatively entitled Casanova Reborn. In this I take my cue from the owner, who has little patience for idle chatter in this regard and none for alarmist fluttering.

Begging his indulgence, I shall briefly shine my intellect upon the topic, then go back to my work at hand, as it were.

What exactly is a troll? Wikipedia takes its usual scholarly stab at it, and they'll get no real argument from me: "In the context of the internet, a troll is a message that seems to at least one user to be inaccurate, inflammatory or hostile, which by effect or design causes a disruption in discourse. The word is also often used to describe a person posting such messages." Their dissertation on motivation, which I won't go into here, is most interesting.

acf has been described elsewhere (not yet wikipedia, alas) as a troll-free paradise. To a large extent this is probably true; given the nature of the site, it is far more secure than its relatives. However, it has occurred to me, and no doubt to others, the concept of trolls as moles: fully visible to the trained eye yet with no obvious intent except to somehow, somewhere down the line, throw a spanner in the works. Such constructs are works of art, some painted by masters, others cobbled together by obvious apprentices.

Of chief concern to the owner - and I, who do his bidding - is the fabric of trust which helps keep an online community like this rolling smoothly ever onward. Most trolls are like a scaled-up Godzilla, attempting to clumsily alter the skyline in distruction mode whether or not intended as a snub at the architect. These are easily dispatched without calling on the services of Mothra. Trolls as moles, on the other hand, can be very difficult to apprehend, and the resulting fracas may at times threaten to injure innocent bystanders. Finesse is called for; fortunately this is a quality I possess in abundance, despite bitter protestations to the contrary by my former marital partner, not to mention the occasional impolitic remark by the owner himself, who is wont to take liberties with my reputation.

Reader, by now you have either fallen asleep or are scanning with particular care and attention, so here we come to the load-bearing beam upon which all else rests: acf is a friendly place. Passports are not stamped and a high wattage bare bulb not pointed in your direction. As members spend time here and develop a posting history they gradually build up a fund of trust from which other members draw. There's an American expression: "Don't take any wooden nickels."

These are my thoughts.

Now back to Casanova Reborn:

"Not being conceited enough to suppose that the two girls could fall in love with me from listening to my complaints, not only did I not restrain myself in their presence, I confided my troubles to them when Angela was not there. I often spoke to them with an ardor far greater than that with which I addressed the cruel girl who quelled it in me. The genuine lover is always afraid that the object of his love will think he is exaggerating; and fear of saying too much makes him say less than is the case."

I may not be able to improve upon that. Nevertheless I shall set my pen to the task.