Trolling. According to Wikipedia, it is defined as:
An Internet troll, or simply troll in Internet slang, is someone who posts controversial and irrelevant or off-topic messages in an online community, such as an online discussion forum or chat room, with the intention of provoking other users into an emotional response or to generally disrupt normal on-topic discussion.
It’s no surprise to see personal attacks, fluff pieces & piss poor journalism from the Independent papers but every now and then, they print something that can only be described as trolling and the trolling is directed at us, the general public. Now when the British tabloids stir up emotions, they usually direct them against a third party but the Independent & especially the Sunday Independent (Sindo) newspapers have always been a little odd and invite the derision against themselves with ludicrous articles that are either artful satire or an attempt to wind up Irish people and make them buy more copies of the rag.
The latest offender is entitled “Cleaners give us the brush-off” and glories in the kind of smug patronising tone that went out of fashion around the time Rudyard Kipling wrote a response to his own premature obituary.
A few gems:
What was far more tragic was that this Brazilian cleaner had not been there for eight weeks without a by your leave. Not so much as a thank-you that my friend had allowed her to inspect the house which she had, in fact, cleaned every week.
Relax ladies; remember you’ve been doing it all along anyway for the weekly Polish cleaner’s inspection.
From the men of Ireland, all we can say to the eastern European and South American cleaners is thanks for the memories.
Remember that this was front page news in a newspaper that has pretensions to be a paper of record.
Now this could all be an especially elaborate post-modern joke by great minds in the way that the Irish Times had Mark Steyn blasting neo-con slogans for their mainly middle-class readership to choke on but the Sindo has past form in this regard.
Back in 2000, there was outrage over Mary Ellen Synon making a name for herself by slagging off competitors in the Paralympics, amongst other things. While MES has a right to her rather distasteful views, people have a right not to be subjected to them and have them paraded as headline news.
Since then, Brendan O’Connor has taken up the baton and regularly smites his many, many foes with snarky fact-light opinion pieces such as Beverly Cooper-Flynn is a “principled woman”. Will we ever forget the “smart, ballsy guys are buying up property right now” slice of fantasy written a year after the peak of the property market in 2006?
The Sindo in particular has refined a peculiar brand of reverse snobbery where they invite us to look at the lives of the rich, famous & titled, while alternately ridiculing them & aspiring to be like them. Katy French might have been a woman famous for being famous and ridiculed as such but one of the chief instruments of that was the Sindo. The schizophrenic coverage of a socialite & model was designed to appeal to a readership who coveted this sort of lifestyle but at the same time, pretended to be repelled by it.
It’s much the same with “wondering where our cleaners have run off to”. While the tone is clearly ironic, it is also patronising. You’re clearly not supposed to indulge in such “colonial” type behaviour but it’s also clear that you’re a nobody unless you do or did. It’s a modern extension of “Valley of the Squinting Windows”-type behaviour that should have been left behind decades ago. At least the likes of OK! and Hello! magazine are honest about the image-conscious market they are aiming for.