Trolling is big business for columnists. A week doesn’t seem to go by without a new piece attempting to stoke moral panic at the thought of these anonymous, abusive, online mischief makers. Trolls, it seems are everywhere – even if no one can quite decide who or what they are. I took a stab last August, noting that the term had been applied to everyone from harmless wind-up merchants to dangerously disturbed individuals. The majority of people branded as trolls by the media tend to be pretty boring. Angry, middle-aged, middle-class, UKIP sympathiser would be a fairly accurate strawman of the troll stereotype. Possibly, if you are a liberal leaning broadsheet journalist, this is the kind of abusive, misogynist irritant that would most frequently darken your digital doorstep. The posts we have come to associate with these sorts of trolls look something like this:
even less charmingly like this:
Or even worse the kind of people who use the internet to bully the grieving relatives of the recently deceased or threaten people with grievous bodily harm. This list though will generally be concentrating more on wind-up-merchants, subversives and mischief makers rather than bullies and blowhards. Then again, sometimes one person’s harmless prank can be another’s traumatic attack.
Over the next 31 blog-posts I will attempt to tell the story of trolling or, at least, a story of trolling. This is a story that travels from Ancient Greece to Saturday night TV, a story that stars anarchists and indie-pop-stars: it’s a story sees the troll as ever present in the history of humanity. Not all of these trolls are internet based, they didn’t all operate in the same ways; some are genuinely reprehensible, some are to varying degree heroic but, in their own ways, they are all fine examples of behaviour which is unmistakably trollish…
Of course this list is deeply subjective so if you feel I’m likely to miss anything or anyone, guest posts are always welcome!
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The List So Far…