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06/07/2005 Archived Entry: "Feeding frenzy at TCF"

WE HAD A FEEDING FRENZY AT TCF YESTERDAY. It was ugly. It diminished and dimmed TCF for a while. But it was also a healthy reminder of just how easy it is even for relatively decent people to devolve into a snarling pack.

Two things happened at once to bring the worst out in some of us (me included). One was that a notorious troll showed up for the second time in the TCF gun forums. He'd been banned a week or two ago (as I gather he's been banned from just about every firearms forum on the Net), but he turned up again under a new identity and this time folks wanted a little time to play with him, to twit him, before the inevitable ban.

Just a few hours before that, some of us finally became impatient with a well-meaning new TCFer who ... well, think of that kid in grade school who always wanted to become a part of your little gang, but who just didn't get it. He'd hang around on the edges of your activities. He'd try to dress and talk like you ... but no matter how book-smart he might be, he just didn't have social Clue and the more eagerly he tried to participate, the more irritated you became.

That was us. Not the Clueless kid. But the gang affronted by an outsider's eagerness. We turned on him with a snarl.

For a day, TCF became less than itself. Became "shabby" as one of the participants in the feeding frenzy noted after Debra got disgusted with us all and kicked the troll out as much because of our behavior as because of his. It was creepy how quickly a good board could go bad. How good people could unleash their inner beast against vulnerable targets. (It's also creepy how just a couple of prolific, off-kilter participants can turn a good forum into a poor one, but that's another issue.)

Dogs in a pack. Schoolkids on a playground. Cops bullying "civilians"? Guards strutting their power over prisoners? "Good Germans" smashing Jewish businesses?

Ah, but it can't happen here. We're not like that.

Posted by Claire @ 09:21 AM CST

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