Have you heard of ‘trolling?’
It originated on Internet message boards, forums, and in chat rooms where anonymity allowed mischievous intentions to fester like so many boils on a particularly randy baboon’s ass.
The exact definition of the term has been muddled over time. These days most people think trolling means making fun of someone or playing a prank on them. These are, to be fair, methods through which trolling can be achieved, but not trolling itself.
Trolling is an extension of the German word ‘Schadenfreude’ which means to “derive pleasure from the misfortune of others.” However, those who wants to troll someone wish no real physical harm upon their fellow human being, they just want to see them get as angry and belligerent as humanly possible.
Repeatedly tricking a homophobe into viewing illicit homosexual content is trolling, arguing a point in a conversation that you yourself disagree with, but know will incense the other party involved, is trolling.
Writing a series of articles where you extol the virtues of atheism when you’re actually agnostically theistic, that’s trolling too.
Why do people do this? You might as well ask why the Grinch stole Christmas. The poor furry fellow spent all night fleecing an entire city with no one to help him but his dog, and the inconsiderate inhabitants just shrugged their shoulders at their impending poverty and sang a song.
You can make a career out of being a troll, just ask Bill Maher or Rush Limbaugh. When Maher donated a million dollars to President Obama’s Super PAC and screamed about it from the tops of the highest mountain, he was trolling his Conservative critics. When Limbaugh called the woman advocating for free birth control a “slut” (and by extension all women “sluts”), he was being a meanspirited little troll.
They’re demagogues, attention junkies, they’re the kid on the diving board yelling, “Mom, watch!”
Trolling is incredibly addictive to those who enjoy its effects. It puts a smile on their face and a skip in their step when their actions cause someone to turn red, as an errant vein pulses in their forehead, or when someone lies awake at night, unable to sleep because they just can’t stop thinking about what “that jerk” wrote.
Trolls are always looking for their next fix, and they always enjoy honing their craft. For example, one might write a column where it’s implied their previously established viewpoints and opinions were fabricated in order to be intentionally provocative.
Then, in the conclusion, they could further insinuate that their new assertions were also fabricated, so their audience would have no earthly idea what that person does or doesn’t believe!
Can you imagine how obnoxious that might be?