I love this.
She has spent far too much time on the internet over the last ten years, with only a couple of bouts of abandonment of it, fed up with the influx of the slebs and plebs who have overshadowed much of what made the internet marvellous with their idiocy, inane truisms and dull gossip (oh, there’s a huge grumpy post on THAT somewhere, just waiting to burst like a boil).
On the surface, she is relatively pleasant and inoffensive, with a big stupid grin and big stupid shoes, drawing and writing bits here and there to amuse herself and sometimes others. She appears to spend plenty of time away from her computer, phone and tablet, out in the countryside, taking photographs of clouds and beetles and dead badgers, painting oddly coloured landscapes and cooking oddly coloured food
This is not the whole story, however.
An unhealthy number of her hours are really spent quietly reading comments and tweets and forum postings by repellent people and fools. She follows conversations that get out of hand on twitter, conversations between celebrities and jealous twits, or between bigots and non-bigots, or between the fairly clever and the incredibly stupid. She reads the comment boxes in The Daily *ail and *ky News websites, fonts of the truest moronity (it IS a word). She braves the comment boxes in the Graun and the Torygraph, where the most bilious and ragesome find their fun. She sneaks into the forums/fora to witness the righteous nerds and ubersnarks either battling it out between themselves, or smiting their mutual lessers.
At the end of a long day at the idiotface, she meticulously (if ‘meticulous’ can be used to describe sloppiness and wild generalisation) draws and describes the new specimens she has found, just like a 19th century botanist (if 19th century botanists had content management systems and the internet and electricity and electric paint).
Why does she do it? Warning less weary web-dwellers of the perils of engaging with the irksomes brings her true satisfaction. The possibility of maybe, just maybe, one day, one obnoxious twat recognising their own behaviour from the catalogue and desisting keeps her striving to continue. What brings unbridled joy in this pursuit, however, is labelling all these annoying internauts as species of the genus TROLL, because there is nothing a real old style troll hates more than our labelling as trolls these new form internet pests who aren’t exactly what THEY regard as trolls,(trolls as described in MS-DOS a hundred-and-thirty-two years ago). They don’t seem to understand that language e.v.o.l.v.e.s.
That, and that she’s just a horrible old misanthrope who likes to take the piss.
I have to come clean and say that there is one kind of troll that does make me laugh. Although he is a bit of smarmy git, and may start to believe that his fame ON the internet (which is considerable) equates fame OFF the internet and gets a bit carried away with it all, Smug-o (his handle since he was six years old, because he’s been on the net for longer than YOU) does DO funny internet.
He’s a total geek, but a geek with fairly good looks, charm and a reasonable amount of self-adulation. He will insist upon wearing unbearably smug tshirts and annoying flat caps and those glasses, though, which make many of us want to hate him.
He tries to only troll people who deserve it.
This is the troll who, upon numerous callouts on a student forum from lazy students who can’t be bothered to read the book for English 101, posts a fake précis and sample questions in the forum for them to crib from. If the set text was “Of Mice and Men”, the précis makes George an evil mobster and Lennie his glamourous, machine-gun toting girlfriend, on a rampage through 1930s Wyoming, who realize, during a prolonged murder spree, that buddhism is what they’re missing in their lives. He lies in wait for the resulting enraged emails from the twits who followed his précis, once they’ve failed their paper and been kicked off the course, and then posts them for our amusement.
This is the troll who responds to a request by a large corporation for payment of 25p (that arrived franked as first class, in a very expensive envelope and printed on luxuriously thick paper) with something ludicrous as an offer of payment… maybe a first class stamp or a packet of sweets worth much more than the 25p, all of which will certainly be rejected. If he can get a correspondence going in which he can act the jackass and suck some poor sucker in and reduce them to gibbering wrecks, he will publish it… for our amusement.
He WILL make you laugh.
He IS still a troll.
You’re just going to have to live with that.
“Cool Furry Octopus” will be the name of his first child.
I could barely paint Captain Vague. He/she says so very little, that I can’t formulate the slightest idea about him/her, so very very vague he/she is, like a puff of tepid air in the internet ether. The only thing I know is that Captain Vague wants to make you feel uneasy and less cocksure… you and your hubristic blog…
Captain Vague interrupts interesting conversations and threads, just to stick a spanner in and bring the blogger down. He/she isn’t really sure about his/her own opinions on very much of anything, but does like to think that he/she is very wise.
He/she leaves the vaguest of remarks on your blog or thread, things such as “you would say that”, “Oh, you think?” or “ha. ha.” and the blogger is left in plenty of doubt about what the hell Captain Vague is trying to say.
If the blogger retorts, having understood that “ha. ha.” as sarcasm, there are SOME Captain Vagues who will try to increase the blogger’s discomfort by pretending that no, that “ha. ha.” was intended as a genuine belly laugh, and that he/she is left feeling horribly slighted by the blogger’s lack of faith in this ardent (never heard of before today, though) fan. This brings him/her the most enormous pleasure. He/she loves to bring bloggers — we selfish, arrogant, stuck-up, deluded fools — down a few pegs.
Captain Vague is the easiest of all trolls to ignore.
This weekend’s hot topic on the web re trolling is misogyny.
If you haven’t been following, read these for some viewpoints:
read the following one if you want to be enraged (or not) by a woman who appears to be without empathy, without imagination, who has never received a threat of any kind on the net (lucky lady), who (she has tweeted) would “fall about laughing” if she ever did:
Well, I think it’s all glaringly obvious, so I shan’t harp on. Here are some bullet points. I’m liking the bullet points this week:
- Being a misogynist doesn’t preclude one from being a woman.
- Being a misogynist doesn’t preclude one from being a miseverythingelseist. In return, this doesn’t lessen the effects of misogyny.
- If one trolls a woman with suggestions of sexual violence and/or use language related to specifically female anatomy, that’s overtly misogynist.
- If one trolls a woman without suggesting sexual violence and/or use language related to specifically female anatomy, one might be a misogynist, or one might just be a dickhead.
- Women who don’t like being threatened with rape/murder/stalking/violence and speak out about it are not “whiney bitches” and shouldn’t “man up” or “get out of the kitchen”. Oh, just imagine it; a whole internet entirely populated by stone-hearted ladies who could laugh off all threats of violence, while we furry-hearted liberal fools simpered and whimpered and cried in the corner, having handed the whole internet to them on a big pink plate.
- If a man was threatened online with having his great big heterosexual penis cut off, it would be misandry and equally bad. Also, that doesn’t happen very often, does it?
I do have one more thing to add: EXPECT the TROLLS. They will come. It might be once a year, or every day, but they will come and TRY to ruin your day. If you expect them, they don’t hurt as much. Also, remember, they are not going to hurt you. They are just small, stupid, lonely people who want to scare you. It’s easy to say this, but TRY not to let them.
He is an unintentional troll who totally misunderstands the idea of a. the internet and b. free speech.
His head, with its semi-permanent beetroot colour, is usually 30 seconds away from exploding. His tie is always tied tight and his neck veins always bulging a little over the top of his collar. His face is decorated with the regulation eyebrows and moustache of a retired RAF Commodore who flew and commanded in the war, and is remarkably agile for a man who must be in his late 80s by now.
That is because he is not in his late 80s, he was born in 1948, entirely missing the war by three years. He relies on the well known fact that young people these days are very stupid, so when he shouts “we went to war for you to wear your damned trousers round your ankles!” at the youth, they can’t work out that he is far too young to have fought any of those old wars. Of course, they can; they just can’t be bothered.
His online life consists of thoroughly reading newspapers online (by thoroughly, I mean all articles about the young, the “ethnics”, the “gays”, the benefit scroungers, political correctness, all wars going on, all economics going on) and be outRAGED by most of it. He comments anonymously as “The Commodore”, instantly contributing to his troll status, because he wouldn’t want anyone in real life to see him reduced to writing to these people in a digital form and not in the proper manner; green ink on paper to the editor.
His responses are predictable, of course; too much immigration/too little respect/trousers too low/didn’t fight the war for this to happen/in my day blah blah blah … and very second he notices that someone has responded to him (which might be a while, as he doesn’t get that the internet doesn’t require a tea and biscuits half way through the morning) he goes all Dambusters and drops bouncing bombs of bombastic, jingoistic, ageist crap on them, getting into massive rows with anyone who can be bothered to react. It usually ends in a very ugly manner, his misogyny and homophobia (for anyone disagreeing with him must, he thinks, be “a silly woman” or “a dreadful queen”) being expressed in ripe language that ultimately gets him kicked out of the comment boxes by moderators.
Tomorrow he will return as “Rear Admiral”.
By day he is a normal looking mechanic, mild, dirty-joke-telling, inoffensive, one of the boys.
By night he is a right little nationalist. He belongs to a couple of neo-Nazi and sod-neo-we’re-full-on-Nazi forums, where he gets himself wound up into an idiotic rage by the other brain-lites (and by a nerdtroll in California who is pretending to be a racist baboon just to see how easy it is to wind up the stupid for a thesis he is writing). Most of the time, the forums are where he begins and ends his internet experience, but sometimes he ventures out into the wilderness of the net, filled with all its people of all different colours, nationalities and sexualities, a place he doesn’t like at all…
He may read a story in a newspaper about a sleb of one colour marrying a sleb of another colour. Well, THAT’S not right, he thinks, and piles in with some offensive, idiot-bashing-keyboard comment about it…. and he’ll be on a roll. He’ll find a story about “the gays” playing football. … NO!!!! says his tiny shrivelled brain, NO! and bashes some nonsense out on his keyboard. He finds a woman living in his country who comes from another country, who writes about his country in terms that wouldn’t work well in a travel agent’s brochure and leaves messages such as “go home to your own filthy country” and “I know where you live and I will come and get you if you don’t stop writing about MY country” *
It’s quite a long list of things that offend him. He tells his mother sometimes, about his list of “the unacceptable”. She tries to gently talk him out of it, to no avail. She’s mystified about where this idiot came from. Then remembers the boy’s father. His list of “the unacceptable” who deserve to be constantly slated and abused online (and, he wishes, in real life) includes:
- Funny coloured people
- People with funny accents
- People who don’t speak his language (including people who don’t live in his country)
- People who don’t live where they were born (his auntie doesn’t count, because she couldn’t help being born in France)
- People with posh accents
- People with posh accents who claim to have something to protest about
- Anyone in the media, even if not posh
- Mixed race marriages
- Mixed nationality marriages
- Non-mixed sex marriages
- Europe, EU, the euro, the French
- Intellectuals (that includes anyone with A levels)
- Politicians (except the members of his beloved nationalist party)
- Foreign food… except Indian
- Intelligent women and funny women
- Intelligent, funny women
* Yes, this time it’s personal and I have had visitors like that. I am British. I live in Portugal. I write about it, a lot. Some people REALLY don’t like that I am allowed to do it.
Her week is spent mentally concocting the perfect meal that she will lovingly craft (while screaming at her boyf for getting in the way while she is creating) for herself, her boyf and some recently found friends, friends who don’t know yet that she is a culinary genius (her words). This Saturday (and every Saturday) her entire day will be dedicated to this epic menu. She will have sourced all the ingredients in the ‘right’ places, the best of everything, the most exclusive of everything (no Delia lackey, she) and money is no object (her boyf begs to differ).
She is an auto-didactic latecomer when it comes to good food. Since she realised that food was ‘cool’ in her mid twenties, she has read all the books, obsessively follows the trends in ‘modern cookery’, reads all the restaurant reviews, visits all the foodie blogs, though, like most trolls, she doesn’t deign/dare to blog her own blog. She boils with envy when she discovers that a food blogger has won an award for food writing, or has a big and active audience. She is outraged when her favourite (cliquey niche show offy) chefs are criticised in bad restaurant reviews. She seethes when she sees people talking rubbish about food, without having consulted her. Why? Because it is she and she alone who knows everything about food. Everything. She is an uber-foodie, she thinks.
But she is a size 6 (UK6, US4, EU34 etc.,… what I mean is that she’s a bloody stick insect… I’m trying to keep the bitterness out of my voice, I hope you understand, but hey, eating IS more important that getting into clothes, isn’t it?) and this squarely and completely rules out her status as any kind of foodie on any scale. Agreed? Agreed. She cooks all this food, and barely eats any of it apart from tasting it while it cooks.
Her trolling consists of anonymously raining down hell (and devil’s food cake) on ‘bad’ cookery ideas in forums, loudly stating facts like “anyone who has ever used a stock cube in their lives is an idiot and a fraud of the worst kind”. When her favourite chefs are lambasted, she gets out her turkey baster of bilious crap and accuses the reviewers of lying because they are jealous of the chef’s success. When someone she likes invents a pretentious dish of stewed rubbish, she will nod quietly and copy the idea for next week’s (unbearable and overwraught) dinner party. When someone she doesn’t like invents a pretentious dish of stewed rubbish, she proclaims it so all over the internet, seeking out people who dare to say that they like that particular chef/cookery writer/tv sleb and telling them they are idiots. She intentionally seeks out badly written recipes on recipe sharing sites, follows them to the letter so that she can complain in snippy tones to the original recipe poster that their recipe didn’t work, and why didn’t they use butter instead of margarine, because that’s how I do it and it’s much better. ETC.
Viva the good cookers and the good eaters!
This is a professional troll. He is in media or showbiz of some kind; he may be a shockjock or a writer of pretentious schlock. Here, for today, he is a comedian who has based his career on being quite edgy, a bit near the knuckle (where the knuckle is the bounds of decency). He has been doing standup and TV for a few years, to small and niche audiences, who love him for his humour that they understand to be clever and subversive.
One momentous day, he gets on mainstream TV. He tells a joke. It is a very tasteless joke. The live studio audience goes wild. The joke is funny, it is edgy and it requires a little bit of thought. The broadcaster leaves it in for the broadcast. The recorded home audience go into reactionary meltdown (as they probably should, the joke really is THAT tasteless) and it is at the moment that the comedian realises something about himself.
He finally understands that he doesn’t do his edgy comedy to be subversive and try to get people to think about an idea. He does it because he loves the frisson of the reaction. All that attention makes him shiver. In a small room above a pub, it feels like subversion. When the reaction is nationwide, facebookwide, twitterwide, it feels glorious and nothing to do with sticking it to the man. It is more attention than he has ever received for anything and he is going to revel in it.
Instead of waiting for his next natural opportunity to get on the mainstream telly again and tell another repulsive joke — he needs his next hit of hate-adrenalin — he gets into twitter and starts spewing pure mad-bile through it, with strange delusional ideas of doing horrible things to famous people, using language that would make your quite sturdy granny faint, while all the time visibly laughing smugly with his unholier-than-thou avatar staring out of the screen at you.
Every time he tweets something deliberately awful, the response is tweafening (sorry, I couldn’t resist) and he laughs and laughs and laughs at the twitter mob calling him a c*@t (my mother reads this), a shithead, a bastard, a foul little creep, then he throws his head back and laughs some more. He regards this as the next step in his career and he becomes (in his head) a professional troll, realising that sales of his horrible gobshitey memoir spike every time he causes a furore online.
His trolling gets worse and worse, but many of his old fans still stand up for him in front of the new haters, and so his trolling continues. They don’t know what to think, unsure if this is an act, a subversive and edgy act or if he’s actually just an enormous twat.
He doesn’t care, not because he’s being edgy and subversive but because he’s getting all this attention; more attention than he ever dreamt possible.
But he does care, and after a good laugh (on his own in the dark) he cries and cries and cries (on his own in the dark) until he falls asleep with his head on his desk, dribbling onto the single A4 sheet of (edgy and subversive) jokes he has spent the day writing. He is dying inside.
“Oh, bog off, the pair of you”
A couple of days ago, for the first time in my internet life, I was rickrolled. Rickrolling is the act of luring a clickering internaut to a site of interest, where they will find not the useful educational film on prairie dogs that they expect, but a Rick Astley video from the 80s. I got half way through the video, absent-mindedly marvelling at how old fashioned the 80s look now and waiting to see the film trailer I thought was coming, before I remembered that this being Rick Astley (who I couldn’t stand the first time round) meant that I had been rickrolled. I told my computer screen a light sarcastic “oh very funny” and closed the window.
Rickrolling (derived from blogroll, the list of links to other sites on a blog, which in turn, I hope, but doubt, comes from bogroll) is somewhere on the trolling spectrum, probably only “Trolling 101″. ”Trolling 102″ introduces the “trollface” face, which is the face of the troll, presumably saying “nyeugh nyeugh nyeugh nyeugh nyeugh!” and how to copy and paste it (the ugliest and worst drawing ever made, and if you googlewikipedia “trollface” you will discover its roots in a character called “Rape Rodent”, which is nice, though I’m sure the entire trollface story is one big trollingfest of bollocks).
This is the kind of trolling done by the kind of troll who gets annoyed by me calling everyone else in this catalogue a troll. For this troll is a self-proclaimed hero joker whose online goal is to wind people up for fun, to pretend to be stupid to make people argue with him, to lure them to look at something only to give them something radically and irritatingly different and it is he (as he is constantly telling me) and his ilk that do TROLLING, and they do it on purpose so no one else can be called a troll EVAH.
He is a first year student of something not very useful, and in real life doesn’t have too many friends (1), social skills (1) or interests (1). He thinks that trolling is an art. He thinks that “Jackass” was the best show ever invented. He spends his spare time, between a game of GTA and making cheese on toast for dinner, thinking of the next way he is going to purposely annoy someone online, just for the fun of it and to show it to his equally sadly underoccupied fellow online trolls, who enjoy the mild suffering or humiliation of others. It is essentially pranking, but pranking in the dark, with an escape wormhole so that no one knows it’s him doing the pranking, and no one can punch him on the nose.
He arms himself with stock phrases and arguments that he can leverage in a forum dispute, which make him seem cleverer than he is. He isn’t clever enough to be a hacker, only has bad photoshop skills and the ability to make a page redirect to somewhere else, but this is enough to make him a real pain in the arse online.
In real life, however, he wouldn’t dare even talk to you. He would run away like a tiny mouse if confronted with irritated people (who he had irritated).
Whenever you meet someone really idiotic online, imagine that it is this little eejit, because it probably is. Then ignore him.
It is a graduate from a low-grade university with a low-grade degree and very few ideas. It is as well read as a mole and far less interesting. Its moral compass was broken in its back pocket after a sitting incident.
This is the creep who wants to get on quickly through the ranks of journalism, but doesn’t like going out much and getting its little creepy shoes wet. It can’t be bothered to go and look for real things to report, thinks it is beneath it to report on good things that happen, or small things, resents being sent to the WI cake stall and the opening of a new car showroom. It has been doing that for a whole year already.
It sees better, experienced journos having to traipse round the world to get their stories, get shot at, work hard at writing stories or being brave, or even just thinking very hard about what they do. Well, none of that is going to get it to the top, for no great writer or thinker is this little toad, it is merely a cast off from a local radio station. This lifewreckingbadjourno doesn’t care about the content, it cares only where the content gets him.
It senses redundancy in the air. It is desperate, and staring at its computer screen, it has a minor braintrickle…. the INTERNET has STUFF on it. It will find some of the stuff and write it up.
What’s this it sees? There is swearing on the internet? There are people with non one-dimensional lives? Bloggers who anonymously write about sex? Teachers who swear and make jokes with their friends? Anglican vicars who are homosexual? There are people who have different interests online than they might let on in the day time to their friends, but don’t actually have anything to hide, because there’s no shame in being a rounded person with different views, personae, ideas, moods? WHAT?
Little evil journo troll’s cold little beady unseeing eyes glow a little colder, for this is gold. The reactionary fools who read his rag will lap this up, and after the troll has had a good read of the of the dirty bits, with one hand, resolves to make these revelations news.
It picks on one hapless victim who has a responsible job by day and lets her hair down by night (“lets hair down” meaning spending some time on twitter and the rest, talking to friends, being herself, being like quite a few of the rest of us, a bit sweary, a bit of a gobshite, sure in the knowledge that people have a modicum of intelligence and understand that we’re not all robots, preprogrammed to perform our lives in keeping with the pattern laid down for say, a teacher as deemed respectable by the Daily Mail) and writes an “exposé” about the “depraved online life of teacher/ woman!”. By “writes” I mean copy/pastes her tweets, the ones in which she had put swears and rude bits, or even dared, as a woman, to make a funny. The troll tops and tails this with “Look! It’s a moral outrage! Teacher should lose job!”.
Moments before it files the “story” it emails the victim to tell her that her face will be all over the tabloids tomorrow, so if she wants to say anything, now’s the time — this is the troll lying to itself that is an ethical reporter.
Hopefully, the internet, real world and school all stick up for the much admired teacher, and her life returns to normal after the few days of utterly needless torment.
Hopefully, the troll gets what it deserves… what might that be?
He’s not a malicious troll, but he IS a deluded slimebag.
He is married to a dull woman, has a fairly dull job, and daydreams of a life less dull.
In the evenings, after he has eaten his dull dinner, he sits down to watch some dull telly with his wife. When she dozes off, he escapes to his computer where he becomes what he regards as the man he knows he should have been, if it weren’t for the hair loss, and his parents’ insistence on being too poor to send him to public (private, for you forrins) school. However, it’s not the education he thinks he has missed out on. He didn’t want to be a great lawyer or medic. He wanted to be a great lothario; it’s the ‘skirt’ he’s missing out on.
Online, he becomes the “curator of laydees” he always wanted to be, slowly adding to his list of laydees he regards as his “very close friends”, in FB, in twitter, in g+, in myspace… really, anywhere he just has to turn up, not contribute anything in particular, and chat to the laydees. He initiates relationships with friendly chatter but escalates to full blown flattery and charm within days.
Occasionally, other men get involved in (muscle in on) conversations, and with them it’s all “yeah! the footie last night was a disgrace, wasn’t it?” and “beer goggles, mate, beer goggles”, but as soon as there’s a laydee in the picture he turns on his immeasurable (measurable) charms. He compliments their beautiful eyes, graceful poise, luxurious hair, and how jolly clever they are if they mention an ikkle bit of newsypoos or a lovely political or philosophical ideakins. Smoocher doesn’t get sexual, he’s too much of a prude for that.
It never takes long for the laydees to tire of this idiot and they either extricate themselves from his web of bullshit by unfollowing and defriending, or they simply go quiet online, too scared to speak up in case he finds them again. He isn’t generally evil, though, and, when the laydees do disappear, he just assumes that they have fallen so madly in love with him that they had to leave, they couldn’t take the pain of not being able to be his.
This post is a cautionary tale, rather than an entry into the catalogue.
This afternoon, a friend pointed out some extreme nastiness going on on twitter. I went and did a bit of rubbernecking, read some of the goings on (there will be no @mentions here to avoid more trouble for anyone) and saw some really nasty stuff being tweeted by someone with obvious mental issues, and quite a good capacity for investigating people, for stalking and masquerading purposes… i.e. he is mad but not an idiot. He is not a fun troll, or a mischievous troll or a even a moronic troll.
Peter, one of the people who was attacked and threatened, wrote an account of what has been happening here, in his blog. You must read it, then let me finish what I was going to say….
…. right, now you’re back from Peter’s blog, I want to remind you that yes, although most trolls are laughable, sad little people, hopefully partially demystified and emasculated by this bit of fun that is trollologist, some of them are quite seriously dangerous and there are more out there (catwoman was based on a true case that involved a blogging friend). It doesn’t take much unbidden intrusion into your life to have your life change forever. If you’ve ever been stalked or burgled or mugged in real life, you’ll have an idea of what happens to the trust you have in people after the event. Being stalked online is just as bad.
So, please take Peter’s experience of one extreme misogynist-homophobic “person” as a lesson in spotting trouble before it’s too late and, better still, helping to avoid it, by being careful who you follow and who you are followed by on twitter (and everywhere else).
Also, as Peter mentions, be aware that twitter isn’t ready on the big red button, waiting to block IP addresses, close accounts or take legal action for you if anything bad happens. Don’t give your phone number or address to anyone unless you are absolutely sure who you are dealing with. Be aware that you may be being ‘groomed’ if a stranger comes into your twitter stream, over-egging the niceness and being very attentive. Be careful what personal details can be gleaned from your twitter stream and anything it links to (flickr/facebook etc). Get advice from the Police if you receive threats.
Don’t have nightmares (sorry, I think I’m Sue Cook sometimes…).
Pictured here is a our troll, “Symptom”, and his wife.
“Symptom” spends an awful lot of time off work due to illness and, therefore, has an awful lot of time to spend in front of his computer.
He roams about, joining random forums that cover diverse subjects, from climate change to EastEnders, the economy to health. He even frequents expat sites in countries he’d rather like to holiday in one day. Wherever he is a member, he reads every single new thread and HAS to leave a response, even if he doesn’t have the remotest clue about that subject and has nothing to say. This is usually a dull, pointless response such as “I saw that programme, too” or “I shall be reading up on this”, all rather forgettable and ignorable.
However, should “Symptom” find an entry in a thread with which he disagrees vehemently he will make a ridiculous proclamation against it, à la “Climate change is the stupidest thing I ever heard of”. If (when) this is challenged he will respond with insults and abuse…. and the very second someone comes back, perhaps with a shred of evidence, thereby making him look like the moron that he is, his “terrible illness” will be brought into the fight.
“How dare you talk to a sick man like that? Have you no heart”? He might even get some help from some thick bystanders (think Hope Charity Faith) who won’t even read the beginning of the thread, and just jump at the person who dared to question his climate change statement, for “bullying a dying man”.
And god help you if he finds you discussing anything to do with actual health. He will get into an argument with anyone who doesn’t seem to be as critically ill as he, quoting all the medical journal articles he has ever read (and probably misunderstood) about his particular debilitating and life-threatening condition.
His condition? He suffers from a very mild irritable bowel (aka VMIB). His wife is his enabler, encouraging him to stay at home and be ill, and pandering to his every idiotic whim.
He will die one day, of course, but that’s because he will walk in front of a bus, while planning a witty response to a very ignorant man who tried to tell him that one can’t die from VMIB.
with thanks to Robynn for the inspirings.
There you are, playing about on the internet, looking at websites and blogs, sometimes engaging people in conversation in comment boxes or on twitter, being careful with what you say and how you say it, so you don’t offend anyone. You are a balanced human, who recognises that people have differing opinions and are allowed to have them, especially if they’re opinions that don’t condone the eating of babies or genocide.
You find yourself in a conversation in a comment box about, let’s say, gender politics.
You write, agreeing with the blogger’s post about modern manners in the workplace, that you think it is fair enough that women get narked when they hear the boys in the cubicles talking about tits all day, but add that you remain unoffended if a male holds a door open for you.
Suddenly, from nowhere, someone booms “WHO’S THAT TRIPPING OVER MY BRIDGE?”, or rather “What on EARTH are you? Your ideas of womanhood are laughable…frankly, there’s too little oxygen in the world for me to share with people like you.”
You aren’t sure, at first, if Miss Troll is taking the piss, because she does seem extraordinarily angry at you for something you believed to be a gently self-mocking confessional remark, so you calmly (and, in retrospect, stupidly) ask Little Miss Sub-Clause why she reacted to you thus.
Little Miss Sub-Clause unleashes the hounds of hell upon you, little goat, and regales you with THE RULES, her rules, that she has written down somewhere, in jargon fuelled hate speech, after studying far too many sociology textbooks and theses. You try, fruitlessly, to calm her down with pacifying noises and humour, but this makes her angrier. For you are the worst kind of woman (apparently). You assume it is because you allow men to hold doors open for you and do a bit of back tracking, trying to maintain face in front of the horrified (you guess) audience that is gathering to watch this clash of women. No-one else jumps to your aid, so you start to question your own morals and ideas. What are you SO wrong about?
You spend an hour defending your right to say that it’s not a problem for people to hold doors open for other people… when suddenly she announces “NO, you goddam sheep! You are so dense… it is your assumption that I would be offended by men talking about my tits in public! Sheesh… get back to the Guardian you dope!”
The problem is that her rules are unfathomable and her demographic unobtainably fine tuned: She is human, female, bi-sexual, apolitical, part-time sex worker, economics graduate, dog-not-cat lover, allergic to dogs, amputee (little toe, left foot). Her rules are based in a mix of politics with gender politics with LGBT rights with BDSM rights with disabled rights with freedom of speech (hahahahaha) and the right to wear stilettoes and you will have to guess which way she leans in any of those arguments, because you will NEVER get it right.
You leave the argument, drained and in need of a drink. It is only the next day that a bunch of last night’s observers come and find you elsewhere on the net to quietly send you messages, congratulating your courage in the face of that total nutter. They didn’t dare jump in last night, because they are terrified of her (and her supreme stalking ability).
Little Miss Sub-Clause makes a small living selling her knitted vagina brooches on Etsy and receiving paid visits from a wealthy client who requires a “passive-dominatrix-submissive” for an afternoon once a month.
Little Miss Sub-Clause hasn’t left the house since 2003.
He is a university professor at one of THE universities. Let him, for argument’s sake, be a historian (nothing to do with the one I have at home). He lives and breathes his subject and really is extraordinarily clever. He has an eye for tiny detail but a feel for great movements in time.
He is married to his university sweetheart. They met in the late seventies, he reading History, she reading Classics. They have no children, as they have always spent so very many hours of each day reading, writing and teaching, that they have never really had any time for that sort of thing.
In recent years, he has become a bestselling author and a bit of a media star. As well as his consistent turnout of journals and dry tomes that will never go further than the college library and Blackwells, he writes a book every year of popular history, helping to bring history to the public (to him, the “great unwashed”, but on Radio 4 he refrains from using that term). His new found wealth and fame are rather delicious to him and he has discovered a taste for vintage cars and good wine, and just this year bought his first new computer in twenty years. Until now, all his books were written in WordPerfect on an old IBM and printed out on continuous accounts paper — the arrival of his floppy disks causing consternation at the publishers for the last few years.
However, there are plenty of other historians about the country who want his crown (and his cars and wine) and who are writing pretty good books popularizing history and he is getting twitchy.
On the launch of his latest book (Adventures in the Regal Bathroom), he stalks the history departments of Amazon and all the other online booksellers and, using a pseudonym, makes staggeringly rude remarks (“this man’s a buffooon! I know him well” or “this woman is a charlatan… and she is COVERED in warts”) about all the other popular history books, and I mean all of them. He may be very clever, but he really is a clueless baby when it comes to the internet and modern life. He uses the same pseudonym to make fabulously complimentary comments about all his own books.
Not content with the bookselling sites, he finds other bookish places, forums about books, book magazine websites and continues with his remark making, until one day he is outed to the press by someone who noticed his prolific pseudonym (An’Istorian) in some peculiar places, including a thread about reading to one’s unborn baby on MumsyWeb.
He flatly denies it, of course, but, when confronted with his IP address by an intrepid reporter, announces that it was his wife. His wife still hasn’t forgiven him.
She just LOVES Justin Bieber, although love is not a strong enough word. If she thought it would get her closer to Justin, she’d throw ALL her guinea pigs in the bin and set light to them.
At school, her friends are (openly) into the indie stuff (covertly several of them are maniacal Beliebers as well), so she really can’t talk about Justin much, which is hard for her, as 98% of her thoughts belong to the Bieber.
However, to compensate, she wears a Justin necklace and, in the winter, a Justin t-shirt under her school uniform. She saved up to buy her Justin knickers (one pair for each day of the week) which no-one else is allowed to wash but her.
When she gets home from school, she dedicates her entire evening and weekend to biebervangelism on-line. She’ll start with facebook, find some links to drop into all her friends’ laps, then she’ll go to youtube and find videos of the Bieb to lyrically cream over: “OMFG JUSTIN I LOVE YOU! JUSTIN!!!!!!! <3 <3 <3″ …. until she spots a dissenter (who may well also be of the trollish persuasion, eg. “Justin Beiber SUX HAAAARD”). She will click on the dissenter’s avatar to go and see where else he has blasphemed, and, still not quite getting how it all works, she will leave more ludicrous bieberlicious messages everywhere on youtube that the dissenter has been, whether the video or the original comment has the remotest thing to do with the JB or not.
The bieberdissenter and she will duel it out for a while, until the dissenter gets tired and goes to bed (well, it IS 9.30pm) but our troll has worked herself into a bieberfrenzy and blasts the net for the next two or three hours with insane and inane gibberish about the godlike qualities of Justin bloody Bieber, be it a fashion website for tweens, or an article in the Washington Post about the dire economic straits we’re in.
Luckily, we just have to wait a few months for her to get over this…
Unfortunately, she then gets straight into La Bloody Gaga.
This is a troll who has never fulfilled any of her promise. She regards herself an artist of some kind, (or maybe a musician or a writer). She might even be reasonably good at what she does. When I say reasonably good, I mean, she got an O level in it and thought that was enough to prepare her for a life of success.
She would love to make a living at her art but instead has to do a job, a boring job, in an office and bitterly resents ANYONE in her chosen field who gets any attention for their work. She knows it should be her being interviewed on Front Row, featuring in the art magazines, being lauded all over the world, selling her work to millionaires. She simmers with the injustice of it all. She has painted one thing this year; a self-portrait that she took six months imagining. She posts it on-line in facebook, where all her work friends and aunties gather round and say “WOW, That’s amAzing! Do you know you’re REALLY talented?”
The internet has enhanced her life no end. Once, after letting a friend know that a piece of his carefully crafted work was “OK” (she actually thought it was brilliant, but was so incensed that she hadn’t thought of it herself) the crestfallen look on his face gave her such thrill that she had to find a way to do that again. Now she can login as “Artemesia” and take it out on other artists and their appreciators, the ones who bare their souls on-line.
Her special troll-talent is that of lying in wait in comment boxes and forums, waiting for a dozen or so comments exalting a piece of work by an artist, musician or writer before putting the boot in with a curt “meh”.
Or “SO mediocre.”
Or “I saw this done years ago… and better.”
Or “I realise mediocrity sells, but I thought better of the people on THIS site.”
Or just, “REALLY???????”
If challenged, she will disappear into the shadows, knowing that her knowledge of the arts doesn’t need investigation… it’s that tiny.
She is still doing her boring office job.
Of course, he frequents other places; the porn and car parts places, maybe something about his football team, but as a participant there is only twitter for him.
Facebook is too sharey and nice for him, and he sees no reason to tell his aunts and cousins on there who he’s doing or what porn he’s watching, so he steers clear. He won’t troll your blog, as it would require his first finding your blog and then making the gargantuan effort to read it, if only the first paragraph. He might drop by the Daily Mail from time to time, but he can’t be bothered to leave comments there… he knows he’ll be drowned out by hundreds of other messages by idiots.
With his twitter account, he follows no more than 30 people and is lucky enough to have had about 15 people who followed him by accident. 140 characters to read is about right for his attention span.
His own tweets, however, barely need 80 characters, as he is unaware of punctuation and is as literate as a spoon. He is not, nor ever will be, capable of using “your” or “you’re” correctly, and the “they’re/there/their” dilemma is just about enough to make his tiny brain explode.
He is consumed with envy of the famous and assumes that everyone who is a celebrity of any kind is insanely rich and owns the car and the jacuzzi that he covets. Not that he’d ever use the jacuzzi. The only time he got near one, he chickened out then sulked for the rest of the day.
He tracks down the slebs on twitter (something that takes him HOURS) and uses his special talent (that of illiteracy) to write them nasty messages, out of the blue, to (we must presume) try to make them cry. He has a special, inexplicable loathing for comedians:
“@comedianA your a cnut you used to be funny your not know”
“@comdianB i hope youre dog dyes you wanker”
“@comdeianC your fat as your’e wifes”
Occasionally, the barely literate troll will find another barely literate troll and will goad the other with:
“@barelyliteratetroll1 you should tell @comedianA hes a cnut its a right laf”
“@barelyliteratetroll2 I got blocked by him already the basstard LOL”
If ignored, he will go away eventually, giving up twitter in favour of more beer.
If toyed with, his insults will get worse, but only the kind of worse that an illiterate fuckwit can achieve… which isn’t much.
He left school with few qualifications and decided later (after he realised that everyone in the pub was quite boring as football was the main, dull topic… he knows there is nothing worse than a pub bore) that he needed to self-improve, and took up reading. He has a boring job or no job, so can spend hours trying to catch up on his education. He reads books, reads newspapers, reads wikipedia and watches ALL of the National Geographic channels. He misunderstands 98% of it. He is a self-improver with little self-awareness.
Having become a leading light (in his own house) in physics, say, he will go and hang out on scientific websites, and lie in wait (about five minutes) on posts about, say, gravity, before he launches his preposterous opinion into the world, his opinion that it is RIDICULOUS to assume that gravity is a force, that we’re probably actually stuck to the surface of the earth because of magnetism (animal magnetism) and that only fools would still contest this. (if I had written this a couple of weeks ago, I would have said that he had worked out that there could exist a particle that travels faster than light…).
He couches his enormous tracts in language parroted from books, so that, on first sight, he seems to be, at the very least, coherent… and so adamant in his idiotic opinion is he, so forthright, so insanely patronising to the readers of that comment box or forum that he’ll have the whole readership (of highly esteemed, well read, Nobel prize-winning physicists) questioning themselves, albeit only for a nanosecond.
It only takes a couple of minutes, however, for someone to retort with “ah, an idiot” and everyone else surrounds the idiot and explains how he is an idiot.
The idiot, though, is long gone, safe in the knowledge that everyone else is an idiot and that one day his genius will be recognised. He is in the pub by now, telling everyone ALL about it.
(inspired by a suggestion by @matt_heath or as he is known here in Portugal, Massyou Heat)
Get yourself knocked up for the first time, go looking for some info and reassurance online on “Preggo-board” or “MumsyWeb” and you will attract the attentions of this delightful troll.
She watches your first tentative steps on the forum, asking about other mothers’ opinions on nappies, breast vs bottle, husbands, parents and in-laws, childcare and all the other dozens of things that you just require a little guidance about, a friendly word or two, because you’re totally out of your comfort zone. She sums up quite quickly that you’re her kind of target, that you need HER kind of guidance and friendly words, and comes in for the kill.
She lures you in, joining in the conversation as an open minded sharing, modern, fun kind of a girl, making you feel comfortable in baring your soul and all your “ideas”…
She really is trying to help…. but it’s not you that she’s trying to help; it’s your unborn child, future generations, the whole planet itself. You cannot be trusted to bring a healthy, balanced child into this fragile world.
For the nappy debate, she is the first to drop into in the discussion the “if Shakespeare had used disposable nappies, those nappies would still be here” argument (in 16th century landfills, presumably). She, of course, uses the modern reusable nappies, which she had to get her mum to buy for her because they are so expensive, and spends so much of her time cleaning the things that she is now prone to leaving the baby naked on the lino, which is good for his “resistance” (to lino and insane women, probably).
If you merely mention considering the possibility that you might have to bottle feed, you are criticised in the roundest terms as “what’s wrong with this world” and a “baby harmer”, as, according to her, no baby who was ever bottle fed has ever gone on to be a “good person” (she doesn’t mention in any of these diatribes that she went through months of therapy to resolve her issues with the baby “violating her space and breasts”).
According to her, all in-laws can sod off, as can husbands and boyfriends (as if she’d even consider having another one of those since she kicked the “baby-father” out because he ate a Big Mac in front of her when she was pregnant), childcare is just wrong and a symptom of the patriarchal society screwing with the wimmins, and if you’re not naked at all possible times with your baby you are depriving him of a valuable future (in therapy).
Her baby, of course, will be vegan and left handed… and in therapy by the time he is school age, although he will be homeschooled. He will leave home at 14.
Your baby will the first of many, and you will be a glorious, happy, relaxed mother who has the good sense to ignore that fuckwit on the forum.
Dedicated to all my pregnant friends online: Carla, Anna and Ann (who was in labour as I wrote this… and a baby boy did come out nicely).
N.B. I’m not anti- or pro- any nappy-boob-bottle-anything…. I AM anti- proselytizing bigotted bores who think it’s their right and duty to tell you off.
N.B. 2. I apologize to Lee Mack, because she inadvertently looks like him.
This is your mild-mannered uncle Bernard, married to your aunt Miriam, retired and living in Kettering. He reads the Telegraph, deadheads his roses, and quietly thanks the Lord he and Miriam never had children, for that would have meant grandchildren and he really doesn’t have the time for those. Bernard and Miriam are quite self sufficient and don’t need friends; they have a caravan.
Having seen to the garden, and while Miriam tends to lunch, Bernard retires to his computer, scans through the financial pages of the online broadsheets, and logs in, becoming Genghis Khan. He slashes his way through the comments boxes with his doom-mongering. He LOLs at lesser mortals’ knowledge of the debt crisis, putting them right, getting into huge arguments with “The Statinator” and “DOOOMSDay”.
He reminds his readers daily that he has been in various banking institutions for many years and knows and understands all the ins and outs of the world economy.
He reminds them daily that YES, the END IS NIGH, all the banks in the west will collapse, we will be living in a 1930s-style dustbowl and all western money will be worthless, and we all have to start using the yuan and speaking Mandarin, and if the rest of the fools (us) don’t know it, then we haven’t been paying attention, because we’re too stupid, and we will die, soon, in extreme poverty.
He reminds them daily that he doesn’t care if the bottom falls out of the world, as he has prepared for the worst and knows how to survive economic armageddon (he has an allotment).
Until two years ago, Bernard was the accountant for a cleaning company that supplied cleaners to all the big name banks.
He lives alone in a housing association flat in West London. The housing association has long since given up trying to kick him out, since he chained himself, naked, to the kitchen plumbing, after his decision to stop paying the rent. The house is condemned, so it’s only a matter of time before it falls on top of him and the problem will be solved. He has worked in various jobs, usually council jobs, road-sweeping, park-keeping or grave-digging; jobs that enable him to keep himself to himself.
He loudly proclaims to anyone who will listen that he doesn’t care if no-one likes him (which is lucky) and, these days, most people in his dank local ignore him. When he was in his twenties he had a couple of girlfriends, but after a while they got tired of being told they were foul, one-dimensional products of a post-industrial consumerist society… that, and the smell.
In his online life, he trawls the comment boxes of all the online broadsheets (he knows there’s no point trying to shame the tabloid comment boxers – they’re beyond shame), looking for people who might think they have a reasonable response or opinion about articles on pretty much anything (pretty much everything except articles about Cheryl Cole… he fancies her something rotten so steers clear of the those comment boxes). In the snidest, most self-assured, patronising manner, he will attack commenters who have any opinion, pro or contra, on: cars, guns, recycling, capitalism, socialism, fascism, bigotry (he is incapable of recognising that he is the greatest bigot of all), climate change, bicycles, zoos, pets, roads, airports, healthcare, taxes, fashion…
Faced with his great wisdom, everyone, but EVERYONE, is wrong. Even if someone writes that petrol should be banned, supermarkets burned to the ground, and that we should all be living on mushrooms grown in our own baths (seemingly his greatest desire for the human race), they will be wrong (and, depending on mood and subject, also an idiot/moron/fascist/capitalist pig/racist/sexist/climate denier/holocaust denier) because they didn’t mention the fact that anyone who makes a profit of any kind should be shot on sight and that women should stop wearing makeup as the world population needs to be slashed in two and wearing makeup and high heels are the biggest cause of breeding (except when Cheryl Cole does it).
She has been looking for love for as long as the internet has been switched on. Living under a crust of perma-mascara, the black line that delineates each eye has been spreading for the last twenty years, so that now all that can be seen from beneath her Ramones-ish hair, which she has sported since forever, are two black splodges Her fuel is wine and rage.
mating dating websites and chooses her victim with simple criteria: He has nice eyes. He doesn’t live in her town.
She sparks up a conversation, initially friendly and chatty with — let’s call him — Dave Clown, and for a couple of weeks the conversation continues, becoming a little flirtier all the time. After a little while she drops in a bit more information about herself: she is in her thirties (well, she WAS in her thirties once upon a time), she runs a successful art gallery (she does Saturday mornings in her ex-husband’s wife’s sister’s craft shop and lives on a mixture of pitiful alimony and whatever the lodger remembers to pay her) and she loves life (she hates it).
She decides he is “the one”.
She starts ramping it up. Meeting up somewhere in the near future is mentioned: Dave is keeping it vague, she is already planning the wedding night. She finds Dave in facebook, befriends him, “likes” everything he posts, whether she has read it or not. She subscribes, sometimes as herself, sometimes anonymously, to his tumblr, his flickr, his posterous, his delicious, his google+, his twitter, so she can monitor Dave.
Dave starts backing off… at first just a bit annoyed that after just a few weeks she has sent him blurry e-polaroids of herself in a state of grimy undress and made fleeting mentions on facebook of a “new mystery boyf”. He understands what he’s got himself into when she starts to leave comments on all his blog posts, facebook statuses, photographes, @s all his tweets, obliquely suggesting that she loves him, that they’re destined to be together, that she is already calling herself “Mrs Clown” when she is alone. She stalks the chat rooms and forums that Dave belongs to, obsessively waiting to talk.
Dave tells her, thank you, but no, and by the way, he’s met someone…
Dave blocks her, even changes his username where he can, thinking he can hide from her. He is wrong. Using one of her anonymous personae, she tricks Dave into revealing who he is and that he has a nutter stalking him…. and with that, she goes off the rails, finally and completely. She announces everywhere she can that she had a huge (made up) romance with Dave Clown, lists all the sexual acts he performed on her (or rather, didn’t) and that in all the phone/email sex they had (they didn’t) she was faking it (she wasn’t), and explains word for word the cruelty with which he treated her and how he broke up with her the night before they were to travel to Las Vegas to be married by Elvis.
Two weeks later, she has fallen for her next victim and Dave Clown leaves the internet forever, joining a silent monastic order in the Alps.
(this troll inspired by “Sacred Clown” in my comment box)
This is the comment box evangelist we all run away from. The illustrated version is, of course, the christian evangelist, but internet evangelism is a very inclusive religion, from Christianity to Islam, from Hummer drivers to Prius drivers, from Mac users to PC users, from Michael Jackson lovers to Michael Jackson joke makers, dreary bastards all of them trying to persuade you that theirs is the only way and your way is the wrong way….You haven’t seen the light yet, you poor lamb, YOU will thank me when you find the love of Jesus/the hybrid/the Mac/Michael Jackson.
Generally, they are not nasty, just BORING and overly sincere and repetitive, one trick ponies, and it is really hard to tell them to just fuck right off, just in case the only way to heaven IS via the hybrid car. When it comes to the Mac/PC wars, however, things can get just stupidly heated, when opposing evangelists clash in the same box. It is best to close comments on that page and WALK AWAY.
She regards herself as supremely open-minded and free-spirited. This she reflects in her outward appearance with her wardrobe, gaudy jewellery, retro make-up and short hair. She lives in an extremely chintzy flat, that suffers from an excessive attention to detail… she has a lot of time on her hands at weekends. She thinks she is somewhat of an intellectual. Her bookshelves are full of Paulo Coelho and Saramago translations, and all the Dan Browns are scattered around her sofa.
On the internet, she meanders open-mindedly and free-spiritedly round the “literary” blogs and websites, absolutely NOTHING else appeals to her… and she goes about the place nodding in agreement, silently to herself.
Occasionally, though, she leaves her literary safe zone, purely by accident, and finds herself in a blog whose author also believes themselves to be open-minded and free-spirited and writes thus…. and writes a few things that “Free Esprit” doesn’t agree with.
Instead of thinking, “hum, there is someone there who is open-minded and free-spirited like me, and they think differently to me. How interesting”, she writes a ludicrous, longwinded, patronising comment, in the most closed-minded imprisoned-spirited way. She stews over it all weekend and goes back regularly to her comment to re-read what she has written.
She concludes that she really ought to write a book, she is THAT good.
He is as wise as only a seventeen year old can be. He spends a LOT of time in his bedroom, acne-ridden, terribly shy and unpopular at school. He reads books and listens to music, though neither is the kind that his schoolmates read or listen to. He is expecting to get into a decent university. His parents are very proud of him and give him FAR too much attention when he explains what he did at school this week, and what he has been reading recently. He spurns the fripperies of the social networking and music sites. Instead he reads the more political sites on line, the journalist blogs and opinion pages where he seeks out left wingers, mentions of inclusive social policies, protectionist practices, welfare states, kindness, woolly minded liberalness and bashes out in capital letters “HAVEN’T YOU READ ANY AYN RAND, YOU BUFFOON???”.
(He later gets into Cambridge and after a couple of years has joined the Footlights…. and writes an amusing sketch about Atlas shrugging.)
It is enough for you to write four words on the internet for him to find you and write a thesis long comment in your blog about why you are wrong, that you have missed all the salient points, that what you refer to has been mythologized since the dawn of civilization and in an entirely different sense from the one you are using, that scientifically you must bear certain facts in mind and disease and crop devastation must be put into the equation, that you should really be careful before making such pronouncements as they are likely to cause wrong thinking in other, more impressionable, less educated visitors to your blog.
All you said was “I love fluffy bunnies”.
So, imagine there’s this bloke and once, when he was a foul drip of a seventeen year old, some guy (for the sake of argument let’s call him Rogério) called him a name that he didn’t like (the name wasn’t THAT bad).
Roll forward twenty years and Mr “AAAAARRRGGGGGHHHH” has been stewing away on what “Rogério” called him, spending all his energy on persuading himself that “Rogério” was wrong, trying to climb whatever ladder he is on, marrying the first girl that would have him (he has since lived to regret THAT decision) and being generally unfulfilled in life…. until one day and he finds “Rogério” authoring a blog or heading a forum… and all his unfulfilled dreams, frustrations and pain come out in bilious, confused messages of HATE to this “Rogério”, such as “GET BACK UP THE ARSE THAT YOU FELL FROM, IF YOU EVER FALL OUT OF IT!!” or “YOU ARE FOPWASSOCK, LEARN TO WRITE, ASS, YOU CAN’T WRITE, YOU WRITE SHIT, WRITE UP YOUR ARSE!”
Sure, this “Rogério” has a different surname to the one he had twenty years ago, and today he is a liberal leftie pinko commie but back then he was the BIGGEST fan that Mr. Salazar EVER had, but Mr “AAAAARRRGGGGGHHHH” holds onto his mis-recognised nemesis and follows him round the net for YEARS until his horrible harpie of a wife has him checked into a special place with soft walls.
Mild, mousey and quiet, this one. She works as a secretary to an overbearing boss and never speaks up, and finds him wildly attractive. She is plain to look at, and dresses in what she thinks is understated sexiness. It is just understated. She has had relationships with the other sex but never satisfactorily and they last no longer than a couple of weeks. She lives in a small flat with her predictable cat and quite a few pill bottles.
She came late to the internet, didn’t see the point in it for a long time. She was happy with her soap operas, but after getting into the soap operas’ websites with all the fascinating gossip about the cast and crew she slowly crept beyond their safety into the blogosphere… where she found the SEXBLOGS. It didn’t take her long to start leaving comments under various monikers, writing “WHORE!”, “You should be ashamed of yourself!”, “Whore… WHORE!”, “You need help, you BITCH!” to the authors.
We can’t be entirely sure what she is doing UNDER the table while she is typing her comments with the one hand.
This is one of the keyboard bashers you’ll find commenting on [lowest common denominator] sites like the Daily Mail and Sky News. She spends a LOT of time at home, watching daytime TV and she attracts biscuits. She reads those cheap magazines full of tragic stories of women whose husbands cheat on them with their sister while suffering a nervous breakdown and dealing with the growth of an extra arm.
She seeks out the stories online where people have died or suffered some hideous disease and leaves heartfelt [idiotic] messages like “let the precious angel sleep in the arms of jesus now RIP petal” and “I know how you feel [INSERT FAMOUS PERSON NAME HERE] I once found a lump too although it was a biscuit get well soon love” as if [INSERT FAMOUS PERSON NAME HERE] will be reading this unpunctuated drivel. She seeks to feel their pain and commiserate with every story she can find that is in anyway a little bit sad.
She is the same person who goes straight to the “LOOK! Katy Perry/Cameron Diaz/Etc. was spotted OUT without MAKEUP! What a hideous BITCH!” articles in the Daily Mail Online and writes things like “Not so stuck up now is she? i never got what anyone sees in her”.
Pass the biscuits.
He is an Emo-Hipster who spends half of each day getting ready to go out and the other half walking up and down the high street looking lanky. His hair his so straightened that it always looks greasy, his skin as pale as the glow from his laptop. He is an unfathomably enthusiastic fan of some band or other, like U2 or Tokyo Hotel… the kind of band that for some reason garners that kind of extreme fanship, when, as we all know, they’re not that good.
Online, he exists as a more flamboyant version of himself with accounts on all the social networking sites; facebook, bebo, myspace, deviantart (where he prowls around, appreciating emo-manga-crap-art) and several that you’ve never heard of, to keep the world up to date with his day to day thoughts on his existence and the odd photo of him vomiting into the gutter.
A large part of this online life is his band fan-dom, running various fanclub pages in various places and he scours the net for the merest mention of his FAVE band oh. my. god. they SPEAK to my SOUL, whoever they might be and rains down insults, abuse and sometimes even death threats on any unsuspecting blogger or twitterer who might have, in passing, denegrated the [frankly shoddy] work of his BEST BAND EVAH!
In the real world, she is just a bit lost up her own arse. At least two divorces behind her, she used to beguile, but soon bored her husbands with her insane demands for attention on her terms. She lives expensively on the alimony and buys expensive clothes from special ladies’ boutiques, the kind you might find in Bath.
On-line she strikes the the unwary forum dweller and blog owner, first with compliments and agreement, but soon she cannot contain herself and it’s all “oh, DARLING, why didn’t you ask ME? I could have told you THAT!” and “AS an artist, I know only too well that….” and “I’M a PROFESSIONAL designer, and I have a strategy with my clients which…” and “Of course, as a novelist, I discovered that…”. Everything you say, SHE already knew it, ten years ago, twenty years ago, when she was an actress, when she was a TV producer, when she was a famous photographer. If you write about mothering, SHE’ll give you advice, although she has never HAD children, only step-grandchildren from one of her failed marriages. If you write about living in Greenland, SHE lived there for several years in the sixties (or rather, she didn’t). No one has ever heard of her, of course, but as she goes anonymously under the name of “Athena”, she assumes that YOU will assume that she is a genuine middlingly famous novelist photographer artist designer adventurer who doesn’t need to trade on her fame to have friends on the internet. She is not.
By day, he is a mild-mannered social worker. Gentle and kind, he works with under-privileged children or in a drug rehab unit. He is committed to using the correct terminology for every minority condition, and gently and oh so quietly corrects people if they say the wrong thing, like “midget” (little person) or “crackhead fucker” (person of high addictive propensity). He is shy and stutters when ordering even coffee over the counter, especially if it is a girl serving the coffee.
By night, he is “Totenkopf – the Destroyer”. It gives him a sharp thrill to bombard the internet with insane bilious abuse, conjuring images in his comments of violent acts on “sub-humans”, inciting jihad on the jihadists, and willfully seeking to insult (violently and disgustingly, with more shit, blood, bile and piss than you might generally be comfortable with) by saying the unsayable. In one evening of hellfire, he will loudly defend — in separate places — gulags, Guantanamo, lynchings, pogroms, gas chambers, shock and awe, with no affiliations to anything except the unspeakable.
It’s not that he actually believes or desires any of the shit that exudes from his skinny little fingers onto the keyboard — he couldn’t, he contradicts himself with every paragraph — he just craves like a drug the exhilaration that it brings.
This is one troll who ISN’T anonymous and is really an accidental troll. She is your next door neighbour, or your cousin, or you work colleague, or someone you met once and unthinkingly gave your blog address. She is a bit difficult, a bit humourless and a bit thick. She is also extremely politically correct. She doesn’t understand that your blog is not entirely real and leaves comments on your blog saying things like “but you don’t really look like that” and “that didn’t exactly happen like that, did it” not understanding that your blog persona is a big fat show off and the big fat show off is surpressed in day to day life. For a while she becomes your most assiduous reader – she’s fact checking – but after a while she just gives up, realizing that she just doesn’t understand the whole blogging thing.
On the outside, this troll would not seem to be the prime candidate for being a troll. He has a decent job, is quite well educated, is reasonably paid, is not a virgin, might even have a wife and family. However, he is a very bitter man. So bitter that he is seething with rage… not about things that might matter, let’s say hunger in the third world or unjustified violence, no. He seethes with jealousy…. and the best place for him to express that is the internet, where he can be anonymous (he thinks he is quite technically capable, but barely understands the power of the I.P. address). He HATES anyone he perceives as more talented than him. Or who has attained more than him. Or is a woman with any kind of talent. Or is a foreigner who has something to say about their adopted country. Worst is a foreign woman with some talent who has something to say about her adopted country (you MIGHT guess that I have a problem with this arsehole).
His vitriol knows no limits and leaves nasty snipey comments in blog posts, sometimes in a half jokey manner, trying to be clever with his nasty arsey thoughts.
He will end up alone after he alienates everyone in the real world. His only friend will be a bottle of whiskey.
She recently had her first baby, and though the father is around, he’s even more passive agressive than she is. This leads her to spend much of her time online, alone, with the baby slung over her shoulder or clamped to her breast.
The baby, Porphyrea, is much loved, but has in no small way disrupted her life… she barely gets time to disinfect her belly piercing, (the nipple ones have had to go), so feels quite resentful that she isn’t 24 hours with the perfect hair and makeup for her rôle in life, that of manga-pixie-suicide-girl-cutie-pie. She takes her resentment out online, forging deep friendships in mothering forums and blogs by like-dressing girls, only to dash those friendships on the virtual rocks by willfully taking offense from not particularly offensive remarks that aren’t made at her anyway. It is not unknown for her to suggest that she is about to commit troll suicide in very vague terms, leading to a huge upsurge in traffic involving HER.
The troll hereaboveforewith illustrated is the particularly Portuguese version of the archetype, but the archetype is an international one. He is a late-middle-aged man, in this case a just-taken-early-retirement secondary school teacher who spends his now empty days with reading biographies of left wing politicians, spending too much time in the bars and cafés pontificating and postulating and proselytising about the evils of fascism and/or capitalism (the Portuguese version above is prone to saying “FashSEEEEESSHTA” too often) and reading and quickly responding to the online newspaper opinion columns. The Portuguese version here is a member of the communist party which is inexplicably still regarded as not a joke. In Britain, for example, he would be a member of the Labour Party, firmly OLD Labour.
He has his own blog which has no readers where he writes dismal tracts about poetry and socialism. He spends his afternoons and evenings (while his wife gets home from work and puts the dinner and laundry on) online, looking for “so-called academics” so he can call them “so-called academics” and fascists and idiots for questioning ANYTHING that isn’t covered by his very own version of socialist doctrine. He writes huge comments in overly complicated language, thinking he’s being clever, and gets into arguments with his fellow trolls about particularly uninteresting points barely mentioned in the original blog post or newspaper article. He has quite high blood pressure. He is a git.
She is a rare one, but once you’ve got her, she’s hard to shake off. She is a clinically insane cat lady. She lives with her cats since her husband left her, 18 years ago after six weeks of marriage in a house the housing assoc can’t evict her from. She believes she is fighting for truth and freedom, but instead harasses anyone she happens to think is wrong with 1000 word long rants in their comment boxes, on every post, that have nothing to do with the text of the post and that barely make sense. She does this for months on end. She’ll be running six or seven hate campaigns at a time and in her paranoia, believes that the police are after her. They actually are now, after she started to leave unveiled death threats. She is in hiding, spending her days skitting furtively between the library and the café on the corner drinking tea and looking suspicious, muttering to herself. She only goes home at night… well, the cats need feeding.