Monday, 20 June 2016

Message from the 11th century: ‘Don’t feed the trolls.’


Sometimes the best social media tips come from the 11th century,” says Sarah Kendzior.

Muslim philosopher Al Ghazali may be very much responsible for the state in which the world finds Islam today ("but for [whom] the Arabs might have been a nation of Galileos, Keplers and Newtons"), but Kenzior has found four sage pieces of advice from the anti-reason advocate that sound eminently, well, reasonable when it comes to dealing with four types of online troll.

    • Type 1: Jealous haters. Advice: “Depart from him and leave him with his disease.”
    • Type 2: … folks who come sliding in pretending to be experts on that which they are not. Ignore them too.
    • Type 3:  People who ask you for information they can find on Google, then don’t believe the facts that they find. They’re hopeless. Ignore.
    • Type 4: The troll who is not a troll. They are asking you questions which may be annoying, but are asked in good faith. It is worth engaging with this person.

Kenzior has much more of Al Ghazali’s detailed argument on each of these, concluding,

Follow al-Ghazali’s advice, and spare yourself a lot of online misery.

Just don’t follow his advice on rejecting knowledge.*

* Best summarised as: “If it’s already in the Quran, we don’t need it. If it’s not in the Quran, we don’t want it.”

[Hat tip Duncan B.]


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