OPINION

Don't let the trolls win, they're nothing but ugly souls

Given the plethora of disagreement possibilities available in a discussion between two people, it's a wonder we're not all constantly at each other's throats.

There are 10 possibilities for arguments in any conversation I can see straight away:

Possibility 1: Jack thinks he's right but he's wrong, but he thinks Jill is wrong.

Possibility 2: Jack is right but he thinks he's wrong and thinks Jill is right, but he's going to keep arguing anyway.

Possibility 3: Jack is wrong, he knows he's wrong, but he thinks Jill is wrong anyway.

Possibility 4: Jack is right. Jack knows he's right, but he's too afraid to tell Jill that she is wrong.

Possibility 5: Jack is wrong and is lying. Jill is confused as she thinks that Jack is telling the truth.

Possibility 6: Jack is right but he lies anyway. Jill is wrong but knows Jack is lying.

Possibility 7: Jack is wrong but thinks he's right. Jill thinks Jack is lying again.

Possibility 8: Jack is right and can prove he's right and he's telling the truth this time. Jill still thinks Jack is lying again.

Possibility 9: Jack is wrong. He knows he's wrong. He's says he's wrong. Jill knows Jack is wrong. Jill still thinks Jack is lying.

Possibility 10: Jack gives Jill $100,000 as a sign of his sorrow. Jill still thinks Jack is lying.

OK, there's possibility 11: Jack is right. Jill is right. Neither believes the other.

And of course, there's always possibility 12: Jack and Jill are both wrong, as neither even understands the question.

The possibilities for arguments increase and exponentially with each new person added to the discussion.

No wonder Jack and Jill met with defeat when all they had to do was go up the hill and fetch a pale of water.

That nursery rhyme was doomed from the beginning. For starters, you don't go up a hill to get water ... you go downhill in accordance with the law of natural drainage.

And where was the adult supervision in all this?

Plus, when I was a kid, if they were going to send two children to do a job they always sent either two boys or two girls, never one of each. But probably because they heard of what happened to Jack and Jill.

And anyway, wouldn't it have been far more filling and nutritious for them to fetch a pale of milk?

Still, if Jack and Jill couldn't negotiate a hill, I'd like to see them negotiate a cow.

I won't even start with the occupational health and safety issues.

It's easy to argue. It takes no brains. And yet, pointless arguing and insulting people, known as trolling when it is done online, can become gruesome and even fatal.

I think the sentencing of a Melbourne woman to two years and eight months' jail for stalking women she met online is a step in the right direction.

And not too harsh, especially given that one of her victims committed suicide.

The thing to remember is that trolls are not an accurate cross-section of society. They're a minority passing themselves off as the majority. The real majority are busy living their lives and loving their own.

Internet bullying, an incredibly painful reality for so many, is a fairly new thing. You won't find in the Bible either, but that doesn't mean it's not a sin.

Trolling is one of the biggest social problems we need to combat here in Australia, and especially among our youth.

In Edward Bulwer-Lytton's play Richelieu (1839) the character of Cardinal Richelieu said: "the pen is mightier than the sword".

He made the argument that, if people engage in good writing, the dictators of his time would lose their power and people could lay down their swords now and save the communities of the world without violence.

If you write neutral or even good things online, trolls may show up to sabotage your good intentions.

The thing to remember is that trolls are not an accurate cross-section of society.

They're a minority passing themselves off as the majority.

The real majority are busy living their lives and loving their own.

On the other hand, the truth is that trolls have ugly souls and so they are ignored in the real world. You will do well to ignore them too.

For support, contact: SANE Australia 1800 18 7263, beyondblue 1300 22 4636 or Kids Help Line 1800 55 1800

Twitter: @fatherbrendanelee