Archives for 1 May 2014

Anatomy of a troll

I have recently blundered, in my usual unheeding way, straight into a heated online donnybrook on the blog of Mr. Brad R. Torgersen, taking the usual online form – that is, one or two trolls braying insults at a Greek chorus of sane people. I had something to say about the protagonist of the drama (I use the word in the Greek sense of ‘first actor’, not to be confused with ‘hero’). As it may be of some help to those who are perplexed by the behaviour of this particular kind of troll, I offer it here for the benefit of my Loyal Readers.

Patrick Richardson opined, at the end of a longish bout with the troll:

Honestly, I’ve come to the conclusion that [redacted] is a serious, clinical masochist. It’s the only reason I can come up with for his continuing to show up at the fora of [redacted] authors, claiming to be better than multi-NYT bestsellers when he so clearly is not, and then bending over grabbing his ankles and asking to be spanked.

This was my response, slightly edited for your possible edification:

I used to deal with trolls for a living (saddest job I ever had), and I can tell you that it probably isn’t masochism. More likely, he is so socially inept and so incapable of reading emotional clues from text, he actually thinks that his words are inflicting righteous damage upon us, the heinous foe, and that he is returning to his lair covered in glory after causing us all to writhe in soul-deep agony at the sudden exposure of our horrible, horrible guilt. And he is so plug ignorant of the art of dialectic that he actually believes he is winning his arguments with us.

Moreover, as a person who despises religion, theology, philosophy, and history, who knows nothing about art, literature, science, technology, or any of the useful trades, he is gloriously unequipped to appreciate any mode of thought but his own – and his own mode contains no actual thought, just an angry clashing of slogans without ground or consequent, like Nietzsche on cheap drugs. Therefore (hello again, Dunning and Kruger) he imagines that his own mental slush is superior to all our thoughts; that we disagree with him is, to him, proof of our imbecility. We all have gone through a phase of being something like him – usually in childhood, before we learnt sense; we all have outgrown it, seen through it, put away those childish things – but he imagines that there are none but childish things, and that we can only differ from him by falling short of his measure, not by exceeding it. I may be mistaken on one or two points, but that is my reading of the man, based upon more experience of his kind than anyone should have to endure.

In short, [redacted] is like a blind man carrying a burnt-out and wickless lantern, wandering from town to town, unshakably certain that he is bringing the benighted people around him their first experience of light.

Hope that helps.