Thought Catalog

Why I Love (Internet) Trolls

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Up until very recently, I was unaware of the word “troll” as it applies to the internet. Now that I’m familiar with it and its various uses, I find it to be a wonderful term that gets to the heart of what many blog commentators do.

The word actually has a long history; the noun form, of course, we’re all aware of, but as a verb it originated as a French hunting term, “troller,” which is no longer in use. In modern English, it refers to a baiting technique used in fishing. It makes perfect sense that it has entered the blogging/internet lexicon, because as fishermen and women lure fish by “trolling” their bait in hopes of getting a bite, so do internet commentators provoke a metaphorical bite by saying things that are insulting, inflammatory, off-color, irrelevant, or otherwise provocative.

Of course blog commentators fall into different categories and some aren’t trolls at all; some comment in a respectful, appropriate way, whether what they are saying is negative or positive. But by definition, trolls are going to say something pejorative, stupid, critical, mean-spirited, irrelevant…etc.

As an author, I quickly grew to love the fact that I can see what others are thinking about my work. Commentators provide what literary theorists call “para-text” or “meta-text” – texts that surround and comment on the original text. In the print world, the terms refers to things like reviews, interviews with the author/creator, advertisements, etc. Para/meta-texts give us a sense of a text’s place in its culture – how was it received? Who is its audience?

Commentators provide an immediate form of para/meta-text. In textual analysis, whether it be literature, film, television, or any other media, a huge factor is audience reception. A critic can endlessly interpret a given text, but how do we know that his or her reading is at all representative of what the public is thinking? Blogs provide us an immediate answer; all we have to do is scroll down and read the comments. The comments become an integral part of the experience. Some commentators, many of them trolls, add a whole new level of entertainment to the original post.

I love trolls because they do just this to my posts. At first, sometimes I was annoyed by mean-spirited commentators shit-talking my posts and even, in some cases, attacking me as a person. For example, the following comment was left on an article written under a pen name that I use occasionally:

you and that dan hoffman mutherfucker are the same stupid asshole. there is no way that convergent personality evolution can account for the presence of two IDENTICALLY INSUFFERABLE narcissistic shitloaves on the same webshite. turmoil in your fucking loins… good god.

What hate! What outrage! But the truth is I love every word of it. Trolls – you validate me. You add extra verve to my posts, and sometimes you say things that are more amusing than what I wrote to begin with.

Trolls have become an integral part of the blogosphere. Some trolls are legendary; Perfectcircles, for example, comments on nearly every Thought Catalog post with something that makes me LOL a little bit. So, trolls, here’s what I have to say to you: keep trollin’. TC mark

image – erik solheim

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    • http://profiles.google.com/justaduckyguy Conor Foley

      A little disappointed this wasn't focused around troll dolls… so misleading!!

      • Tido

        me too – I only clicked through because I was attracted by the Russ Troll pic. :)

        • http://profiles.google.com/justaduckyguy Conor Foley

          Perchance a sequel is in the works??

    • Nowhereman1280

      What a load of fucking garbage. You suck…

    • Anon

      I can't wait to see what PERFECTCIRCLES has to say.

      • PERFECTCIRCLES

        I wanted to wait until everyone was done reading the article to comment, which I will now do while making reference to a famous political ad of 2010.

        I'm not a troll.
        I'm nothing you've heard.
        I'm you.
        None of us are perfect (circles or otherwise)
        But none of us can be happy with what we see around us.
        Bloggers who think writing and trading links and backroom deals are the ways to stay read.
        I'll come to Thought Catalog and do what you'd do.
        I'm Perfect Circles and I approve this message.
        I'm you.

    • Sigourneyberndt

      I agree with Conor Foley. I was pretty excited to read about the virtues of those little squishy faced darlings.

      The history!

      The hair!

      Etc!

    • azi

      you and that Neal Mackey mutherfucker are the same stupid asshole.

      • Anon

        DAN HOFFMAN IS EVERYONE WHO WRITES FOR THOUGHT CATALOG

    • azi

      you and that Perfectcircles mutherfucker are the same stupid asshole.

      • markup

        I don't understand. I don't think they are the same. I don't understand why you would say that.

        • PERFECTCIRCLES

          That Nazi fellow has no idea what he is talking about.

    • Guest666

      From Dan Hoffman 'college graduate' to Dan Hoffman 'validated by trolls.'
      What Progression!
      What Growth!
      What Thought!

    • STILLH8IN

      OP commenter here. NO ONE CARES ABT YOUR LAPTOP BLOG OR YOUR FLACCID PENIS DAN/NEAL. yr masochistic tendencies do not make you less pathetic or boring. at least insult back or are you you TOO STUPID TO BE AN INTERNET HUMAN….?

    • STILLH8IN

      also hahah who uses pen names to write blogs on their macbook oh man. nom de bore? nice werk

      • Dave Herr

        i'll have you know that dan hoffman is so fucking broke that he uses a busted old dell to write this shit. or else he borrows my fucking shiny-ass macbook (pro).

        • llort

          You probably have an Amiga 500.

    • http://profiles.google.com/jorgeplata17 jorge plata

      TROLOLOLOLOLOL

    • http://phmadore.com P. H. Madore

      I like provocative anythings.

    • rick scheilitez

      “But by definition, trolls are going to say something pejorative, stupid, critical, mean-spirited, irrelevant…etc. “

      people need to learn the definition of trolls.

    • extremeith

      so sick and tired of idiots debilitating this word, this and only this is what a troll is

      “Trolling is a game about identity deception, albeit one that is played without the consent of most of the players. The troll attempts to pass as a legitimate participant, sharing the group's common interests and concerns; the newsgroups members, if they are cognizant of trolls and other identity deceptions, attempt to both distinguish real from trolling postings, and upon judging a poster a troll, make the offending poster leave the group. Their success at the former depends on how well they — and the troll — understand identity cues; their success at the latter depends on whether the troll's enjoyment is sufficiently diminished or outweighed by the costs imposed by the group.

      Trolls can be costly in several ways. A troll can disrupt the discussion on a newsgroup, disseminate bad advice, and damage the feeling of trust in the newsgroup community. Furthermore, in a group that has become sensitized to trolling — where the rate of deception is high — many honestly naïve questions may be quickly rejected as trollings. This can be quite off-putting to the new user who upon venturing a first posting is immediately bombarded with angry accusations. Even if the accusation is unfounded, being branded a troll is quite damaging to one's online reputation.”

      • neal mackey

        u trollin' bro

      • wp

        tl;dr

    • Graygirl333

      Wat.

    • little buddy

      FUCKin SHUTUP

    • Boobs

      we give you the foreskin you don't have

    • dan is poo poo

      “Some commentators, many of them trolls, add a whole new level of entertainment to the original post,” suggests a level of entertainment in your writing itself……… fat titz

    • JP

      Booooring

    • http://tattoosnob.com Julene

      God save the Trolls, for without them I would never feel the need to swag this hard when I'm puttin' in work.

    • Dan Lomax

      Man of the People.

    • Dan Lomax

      Man of the People.

    • BRO BRO BRO BRO BRO

      this article was a poorly camouflaged troll!!!

    • BRO BRO BRO BRO BRO

      this article was a poorly camouflaged troll!!!

    • Pfft

      i get the feeling you're fairly unaware of just about everything.

    • Bendrew1711

      fuck you!

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