Of Tools and Trolls

Fremont Troll by Roshan Vyas
Freemont Troll” by Roshan V on Flickr with a CC License.

I am honestly getting wearied by all the wars being waged online in the name of gadgets, devices, and software.
You love the iPhone? Good for you.
You love your Google Android G1/G2? Excellent.
Love your Nokia Nseries or Eseries? Even Better.
Are you a die hard WordPress fan? Fabulous.
Can’t believe that any designer or developer worth their salt doesn’t use Expression Engine? Hmmm… me neither, esp. since the EE folk throw a much better party at SXSW than the Automattic crew.
Are you Windows all the way? MacBook forever? Ubuntu for the win?
PHP partisan? Ruby on Rails raconteur? Django devotee?
Good for you. Good for your neighbor. And good for your perceived enemy.
First and foremost all of the above devices, software, dev frameworks, and operating systems are tools. They are tools to communicate, tools to create, tools to prototype, tools to view, tools to do business on and with, tools to publish, tools to build a system with, etc. etc. etc.
Depending on your usage, needs, culture, time frame, profession, and preference will determine which tool, device, software, operating system will be best for you. Maybe you have a try a few options to know which is best for you. Maybe you need time, maybe you need to discuss it with your friends online and in person. Maybe you need time to physically try the various options.
At the point where you have written or gotten excited about your new device/tool/software online is where the troll can come in.
For whatever reason, some folks want to go past a bit of teasing or a bit of good, honest debate with solid backup arguments to build their case; some folks want to troll. They want to mock, to drag a discussion or debate into a space that is no longer about sharing one’s excitement or learning from each other and into a space that is about bullying or badgering the other person into the troll’s point of view. A troll can and will argue beyond the point of normal communication and good manners to get their point across or lead the general discussion into a very fruitless place.
This is frustrating. Very frustrating. We have all been online long enough to know what is good manners and what is not. We all choose to use the tools we are using for a reason. If you want to convince a friend to try another tool, do it with persuasion, not with trolling.
It becomes even more frustrating when folks who are professionals in a field in and around technology become devotees to one product and are unwilling to explore the other options out there, esp. as the devices or software grows over time.
Recently, I had to unfollow a person that I liked on Twitter due to the fact that this person started many fights with anyone who was not an iPhone owner. This person chose to take any mention of any other mobile device as a time to point out the superiority of the iPhone, even when it was nonsensical and not on topic. The person would then pursue the argument with Direct Messages on Twitter that would attack one and one’s choices.
Love your iPhone that much? Good. I am very glad for you.
I choose to use Nokia Nseries devices for their cameras and moblogging abilities. As of the date of writing this blog post, the iPhone’s camera is not up to my standards. Sorry, but true. Please don’t send me Direct Messages on Twitter harassing me about using an obviously inferior Nokia, it is uncool and unworthy of our friendship or even mutual respect professionally.
Next year or the year after that there will be another device(s) or tool(s) that will excite everyone’s fancy. And just maybe it won’t excite yours or mine or someone we know, but maybe it will.
In the meantime, let’s all remember that these devices or software or systems are just tools, tools to accomplish what we want to do online or create with or communicate with. None of these tools are worth trolling for and thus breaking relationships over.
Instead let’s use these tools to create and communicate with in a way that builds relationships, communities, systems, and applications. We can respectfully choose to disagree, we can also attempt to persuade others to our point of view, let’s even debate, but let’s not troll over tools.