Ep. 77: Kyrre Lien - Understanding the "Internet Warriors"

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Have you ever scrolled through the comments section of an article or a Twitter thread and wondered – “where do these ‘trolls’ come from?” If you’ve ever wondered that causes these often hateful, toxic and often mis-informed opinions, you are not alone. My guest this week wondered the same thing. In fact, he made a book and documentary film about this phenomenon.

Meet Kyrre Lien, a 27-year old Norwegian journalist and documentarist. Last year, Forbes magazine named Kyrre one of the 30 young media entrepreneurs “defining the every shifting world of news and content.” Kyrre spent three years researching, and travelling the world to meet and spend time with the “Internet Warriors” – read internet commentators or less charitable, trolls. The “Internet Trolls” became the title of the book and documentary.

The project took Kyrre from his native Norway to the UK, middle America, the Ukraine, Russia and Lebanon. These people let him into their homes and lives. The film certainly captures many of their often hateful views, but it also captures many of their inconsistencies and contradictions, along with the loneliness and even humanity of its subjects.

One might think that a project like this gives some of these people even more of a platform to voice hateful views – and in a sense that may be true – but it is not a project about celebrating these people. In fact, when I watched it the sentiment I often had was one of pity.

Kyrre talks about all of this in the episode, going from the origins of the project, how he put it together, through to its broader implications. He also discusses his approach to risk, having been to the Donbass region of the Ukraine to cover the Ukraine-Russia conflict. This is a fascinating conversation that reveals a number of insights.

Show notes:

The Internet Warriors

Kyrre’s photography webpage

The Internet Warriors Book

Article in the Guardian: “Internet Warriors: Inside the dark world of online haters

Kyrre on Twitter

“EGRIP” – How to engage with someone we disagree with

Ep 76 with Gleb Tsipursky

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