For no reason I can fully explain, I found myself thinking of diaper changes today, and it occurred to me, “I sure dealt with a lot of poop.”

Mind, you I still do, because we have four cats, one of whom is very fuzzy and hygiene impaired, meaning twice a month he had to be held by two ruthless people while a third clips around the affected area with scissors, then finishes by bathing it.

If you’re flinching right now, let me say that this is something I couldn’t have imagined myself doing at twelve, or thirteen, or even sixteen.  I don’t know if that is – for everyone – a time of almost ritual cleanliness, but it was for me.  I remember washing things over and over, often with bleach, because someone I didn’t consider particularly clean had used them.  I think the idea of changing a diaper would have sent me running, gagging out of the room.

I don’t know when that changed.  Perhaps it was when I moved out on my own and realized there was no one else to do the nasty jobs.  If the shower drain stopped, I had to get down on my knees and clean it.  If the trap under the sink filled up, I had to remove it and clean it.

Compared to those, diapers are almost clean.

Where am I going with this?  Other than a terrible desire to mention poop?

Actually I don’t have a terrible desire to mention it.  I think a prurient interest in excretory functions are a mark of immaturity both in people and in writing.  I swear, every five years or so, some wag discovers again the bright idea that “characters never go to the bathroom.”  I remember the year Water World came out was one of those.   Every movie had the “obligatory p*ssing scene” which was supposed to make it “deep and real” or something, but since all of them had it, my husband and I would just roll our eyes and go “Obligatory p*ssing scene.”  (Of course, there was plenty more wrong with Water World than that.

And there was the story I got for the small press mag I edited, in which someone was reading in the toilet, while an alien erupted through the wall.  This was marginally improved by the grammatical mistake that made the sentence read “While sitting on the toilet, reading, the wall fell on Jack.”  I was so impressed with the wall’s literacy I continued reading, but once it became obvious it was just misstated, I sent the story back, possibly much to the writer’s shock.  I got the impression that by having the character in the bathroom, he’d made it “important” “relevant” and possibly even literary.

I’m not going to tell you my characters will never go to the bathroom.  In AFGM the fact that the poor man needs to use the facilities and his room is full of servants and retainers who patently have no intention of giving him ANY privacy.  And often the look for a place to relieve themselves is why characters stray into the lair.  Also my characters periodically… well, let’s say they fail to have clean underwear just before the monster eats them.

However, that is neither here nor there.  I’m neither fearful of poop nor do I embrace it with relish (ew) as the most important thing in life, or the grantor of sudden adulthood.

And – I told you this was relevant somehow, right?  Why didn’t you believe me? – this brings me to where trolls are like poop.  Or at least what they leave behind in the form of comments are like poop.

First of all let’s establish what trolling is: a) insults of the personal kind.  I might very well be a b*tch (heck, people call me that on occasion) but if all you did was skim a post of mine, you don’t know that.  You know I disagree with some tightly held opinion of yours, but you really are not well informed about me or my parentage to make that sort of judgement.  b) repeating ad-nauseum points that have been made by someone else before.  This includes, yes, repeating lines that you read in someone else’s “analysis” of a post.  c) engaging in picking apart minor points, particularly when they’re minor points you INFER the author meant, but which are not actually meant in the article.  d) engaging in the tu quoque type of argument.  Say I maintain that the sky is blue and you say “Well, yeah, but your side lied about the sky.  It used to be pink.  It did.”  (Actually that one combines c and d.)  e) calling everyone who agrees with the author camp followers and sycophants.  Believe it or not, at least in this blog, tons of people can disagree with the blogger all the time.  Few of us actually lead mini-cults.  Yeah, I have some friends who read here, but h*ll even my friends have their own opinions.  Trust me.  We argue all the time. If the majority of people commenting agree with me and not with you consider that JUST possibly it is because they happen to agree with me, not because of my awesome mind-control rays.

Anyway, all this boils down to trolls come by and instead of engaging in honest and informed discussion create a mass of comments that mean nothing, stink to high heaven and no one really wants to wade in.  For the troll going unanswered somehow means “they won” and being answered is never enough, so they “won” too.

I don’t know if the truth is they’re stuck in the juvenile age when the idea of excrement and touching it is sickening or in the juvenile age when they’re fascinated with their own poop and love flinging it around.

In either case, I’m sure poop is involved.   And it makes things very unpleasant for everyone reading and commenting.

In general I don’t respond to comments anyway, because I’ve found that it’s possible to nitpick a post to death without saying anything about the central thesis.  (Unless it’s a post on writing or something, when I like to wade in.  I also tend to respond to regular commenters who have become almost friends, and who DO NOT pick things to death, but discuss honestly.)  For instance where I say the sky is blue, you come by and explain no, no, it’s colorless and it just presents as blue to the human eye.  Then I chime in to say of course I know that, but it looks blue.  And then someone else pipes in to say, well, it often looks grey or magenta or…  And then someone else brings up sunsets.  Soon enough my thesis that the sky is blue – most of the time and barring weather systems – sounds fishy, even though everyone knows the sky is blue.  So I don’t respond, and let this kind of troll grumble himself into silence, like the mad man in the corner at a lecture insisting “but truly, the sky is rarely blue.”

Add to this any number of trolls screaming “poopyhead” and “your mom wears a logical fallacy” and I just want to go away from it all, and possibly wash my hands.

It occurred to me today that is the actual purpose of the trolling.  Not to convince anyone.  Not to discuss things.  Not even to make the comments on that post hard to read.

No, the purpose of the poo-flinging is to make the writer afraid of doing another such post.  To make the mind flinch before hand, like mothers do when thinking of giving baby stewed prunes.  (Or garlic.  TRUST me.  My son ate raw garlic while still in diapers.  Liked it.  No, trust me… if you have a baby, no matter how much he likes it… TRUST ME don’t give him raw garlic.)

What they want is the reaction any sane person has when faced with the idea of wadding through masses and masses of poop.  You go “it’s not worth my time.”

BUT you know what?  It is worth your time.  And my time.  And the time of every adult in the blogsphere.  It is worth our time, because otherwise we teach the infants – of any age – that flinging poop is the way to stop hearing things that disturb them.  We let them remain infants, forever, mired in their own dirty diapers.

Adults deal with poop, when poop needs to be dealt with.  They don’t like it.  They don’t relish it.  they don’t keep a diary of “my best poopies.”  But they deal with it and then wash their hands.

And as an adult blogger, I will do that.  Because the alternative is to let the poopy-heads control our discussions, and ultimately what the limits of permissible thought is.

Instead, I say we wash their mouths with soap.

*crossposted from According To Hoyt*