Hostility online: Flaming, trolling, and the public debate
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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OriginalversjonFirst Monday. 2021, 26 (3). https://doi.org/10.5210/fm.v26i3.11547
Whereas the amount of hostility found online increases, scholarly interest in online hostility is decreasing. In this paper, I discuss three questions central to the study of online hostility, namely 1) what role the text, the speaker’s intention and the targets’ perception should play in definitions of hostility; 2) whether hostility is always destructive or if it can also be productive in public debate; and 3) how to distinguish between destructive and productive hostility. I demonstrate the difficulties in defining online hostility and argue that rather than aiming for specific definitions, we should acknowledge the situatedness of rhetorical practice and, consequently, that the effects and ethical implications of utterances depend on given situations. In doing so, I aim to encourage renewed academic interest in flaming and trolling.