Who remembers the story from childhood of “Billy Goat’s Gruff” where there is a nasty-tempered troll living underneath a bridge waiting for some unfortunate little goat to happen by so the Troll can entice it and finally eat it?
That was an interesting story and I am pleased that it was childhood fiction because for a long time after reading it, I always wondered if it was safe to cross bridges on foot—especially alone—especially after dark—you know how it is with a kid if you’ve ever been one.
But there are real Troll-Types and they are not fictional and they are alive today and they may be waiting for you on, of all places, the Internet—especially if you are an online writer, journalist or blogger.
The Trolls I am speaking of here are probably not those green, hair-covered mythical creatures—the stuff that Fairy Tales are made of—(Even though some of them might look like that…who knows?)—but today’s “Trolls” seem to share certain basic personality traits with those beings…at least in my personal opinion which is just that and nothing more…an opinion!
Other places Trolls love to lurk are on those popular “Forum” sites where people go to express their opinions about various subjects. If you have ever visited a public “Forum” Internet Site, chances are you have encountered Trolls plying their skills to inflame conversations.
You can usually spot an Internet Troll because they sometimes like to “Attach” themselves to virtually everything you write and, most likely, will make it their business to visit almost every single item you publish and leave long, argumentative rebuttals to everything you have to say in what you have written.
The Troll loves to use inflammatory and disruptive language and often seems to be insanely overcome with joy whenever someone tries to argue back. The Troll likes to pick a verbal fight and seems always to be filled with some kind of nasty childish delight when someone responds to one of it’s sometimes really lengthy diatribes. Trolls love to leave long comments on your articles—really long comments that might tend to absolutely tire or wear out those unlucky enough to try to read them and make any sense out of them.
I remember this one persistent Troll that attached to “The Liming Liberal Democrat” blog—this Troll would come on with a standard greeting, “Well, Mr. Liming…once again your ignorance is breathtaking to behold…”
After this, the Troll would spend about 5 or ten lengthy paragraphs explaining to me how that if only I would listen to what he, she or it (As the case may have been) had to teach the world about whatever the subject being responded to was, I “Might” learn something. The Troll presupposed, I guess, that everyone was less learned than itself or was totally “Ignorant” without whatever “Light the Troll had to share.
This Troll worked very hard to convince me how that whatever I was writing was nothing but drivel or “Garbage” and how uninformed I was on almost everything and that I was an embarrassment to really “Hip,” In-Tune and Intellectual people like whoever this Troll was…and after awhile, it became the same old song and dance whenever this individual would make an appearance—which was on almost everything I would publish to The Web.
And this approach that I am describing here is not unique to myself or to Trolls in general. They all seem to act pretty much in the same manner and fashion and there are numerous articles all over The Internet describing them and telling people how to deal with them.
I just thought I would share a little this morning because this is a fascinating subject with me and I just know, in my heart, that there are others out there who share my interest in such things.
The impression Trolls try to leave with their victims is “Reasonableness” as far as I can tell. It seems to me sometimes like their entire plea is “Please…be reasonable and see things my way because your way absolutely is wrong on every count…I am the expert…I am the brain…I have all the answers…listen to me!”
I have discovered Trolls seem to take great pleasure in proving to you, themselves and anyone who will listen that whatever you write is total and absolute nonsense and worthy of completely ignoring while everything they present is to be accepted as Gospel Truth.
Troll responses to articles can sometimes contain almost as many (And often more) words than the article they are responding to. Troll responses sometimes try to look authoritative and extremely Academic as if they might have been composed by some really astute intellectuals or something, but it doesn’t take many people—myself included—very long to see through the static and realize that words by themselves do not an intellectual argument make! I call this Trollish tendency “Faux Intellectualism.”
It sometimes seems like the Trolls are always there because it seems like they make sure they never miss a chance to come onto some one’s written pieces and start running their mouths. I don’t know whether it is a game they like to play or a sickness that plagues them. The fact is they are real, they seem to be everywhere waiting to pounce and they are generally well-recognized and described by the Internet Community.
Trolls seem to never get done blasting away at some point of criticism they want to get across. They cannot be reasoned with, they are never conciliatory and they sometimes love to engage in insulting comments about authors. I have had them come onto my blogs and call me names, tell me to make sure I remember not to mix my medications with alcohol, to inform me how sorry they are because I am stupid and all kinds of things that are apparently meant to insult, demean, degrade and embarrass me in front of whoever might want to read what I have written.
When they are not being insulting, many of them are engaged in endless challenges to the veracity of whatever you have written. They seem to constantly demand “More Proof” or “Substantiated” evidence to back up anything that you have written that they want to make an issue about and if you make the mistake of trying to give them the “Evidence” they demanded, it is never good enough or from an appropriate source or it has been “Revised” or “Tampered” with—no amount of effort you put forth to try and satisfy a Troll with “Facts” or “Evidence” is ever going to get the job done…they love to cause people to waste time…whatever is presented to them is fertile ground for attack. Trying to deal with a Troll as if one would deal with a normal individual is a total waste of time and effort.
Trolls have been known to be so intrusive and downright unkind and nasty that they have caused some Internet Bloggers and other Journal Writers to lock the comments out of their work entirely.
If you make the mistake of calling a Troll out, they sometimes suddenly become all innocent and defensive and inform you that all they are doing is expressing an opposing opinion that is contrary to your own (To which they are entitled) and that you do not possess the appropriate degree of “Character” to handle what they might try to describe as their “Constructive Criticism” or their opposing viewpoint.
Of course, the truth is that they could care less about opposing points of view or any one’s rights to express an opinion—they get off on causing trouble, irritating sensibilities, being insulting and persisting in their trouble making and pot stirring. That is what drives them and that is the essence of the blood that runs through their veins according to most authorities I have read about the subject of Trolls.
Troll experts often refer to these irritants such appropriate titles as “Provocateurs” and “Malicious Mal factors” and in my opinion any such term is highly accurate because of the Troll’s generally accusatory and extremely and persistently hostile way of presenting things in written form.
I have had Internet Trolls call me everything from an idiot, to a “Sad Case” to an outright “Commie.” I have made substantial and most satisfactory use of the delete key in many instances and am most pleased to have done so because the Troll never presents anything that informs, educates or inspires. Troll talk is trash talk as far as I am concerned and a lot of people seem to agree with that assessment.
So what can be done to defend against Internet Trolls?
Nothing can be done that I am aware of to defend against Internet Trolls because nothing seems to insult them enough or discourage them enough to ever make them go away. The best that can be done, as far as I am concerned, is to totally ignore their ramblings and to refuse to respond to them.
Of course even this can be regarded by some Trolls as some sort of victory that they feel they have achieved over their victims. If you ignore them long enough and if you make it a habit to refuse to respond to their promptings and prodding, they will most likely assume (And might even publicly declare) that they have won their point and they will go their way probably with their heads all swelled and completely satisfied with themselves for what they imagine they have accomplished.
But I have also discovered that once they take their leave of a victim, it may not always be forever. In other words, there is a good chance that even if they decide to go somewhere else for awhile, they may always return to take up where they left off.
I cannot say this for sure about Trolls, but it seems to be the general consensus among others who I have read who have written about these nuisances.
So, the next time you visit a site where you want to read something, (Especially if the subject matter is in any way controversial) pay close attention to some of the comments that are left on articles that interest you. If you remember what I have written here, chances are very good that you too will be able to spot the Trolls at work.
You might find the following interesting:
More interesting stuff on Internet Trolls:
Can Internet Trolls be considered as “Stalkers” and can their harassment be criminalized under The First Amendment? See the following for information about some who think so:
Posted by John Liming (Political Opinions)
- Trolls on the internet (Info) (estherscott1257.wordpress.com)
- NSFW: Where Internet Trolls Really Come From [Clips] (kotaku.com)