Never Gonna Give You Up

by / 30/07/12

The art of trolling

▲ Trolling is the art of acting belligerently for no other purpose than making other people (often over the internet) angry, the only reward for which being your own enjoyment.

▲ ‘Troll’ may be a verb (there’s a troll), a noun (someone’s trolling), or an adjective (I was trolled). In 2008, lexicographers from the Oregon University found the plural of troll was ‘troll’, much like sheep pluralised is ‘sheep’.

▲ A common Facebook-based troll is a status update like “Wow, I can’t believe Facebook is this security conscious, when you type in your password as a comment, it gets automatically censored it!” followed by a friend commenting “***********” followed by same friend commenting again with “OMG it works!”. This troll was short-lived, though: in late 2009, Facebook moved to make password censorship an actual security feature in the wake of the online movement.

▲ Internet trolls have been immortalised in popular culture, most notably in the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ anthemic ‘Under the Bridge’, and popular children’s e-book Three Billy Goats Gruff.

▲ The art to trolling lies in being believable enough to truly infuriate your mark, while being abstract enough to avoid being entangled in the argument yourself. If this happens, the troll-tables are turned and the troller becomes the trollee.

▲ The wider uptake in trolling culture is threatening the sustainability of the internet. Current trolling practices are data-heavy and cumbersome especially on the new, thinner fibre-optic cables currently being rolled out. If current trolling trends continue unabated for another 25 years, researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have calculated that the internet resources will be depleted to barely 54 per cent of 1996 levels, 21 per cent more than projections controlled for troll behaviour.

▲ Widely regarded as the most successful troll of all time was Tsar Alexander II of Russia, whose gleeful antics led to the Russian Revolution and the death of himself and his son Nicholas, described by most sources as “epic lulz”.

▲ The Internet Safety Act 2009 was a piece of legislation passed by the Key National Government in response to widespread abuse by trolls through comments on internet forums. Pita Sharples currently has a bill in the Members Ballot for an amendment which would extend the Act to cover real-life trolling.

▲ For a successful troll to be successful, a suspension of disbelief must be maintained – the mark must truly believe the troll’s statements, and so be caught inextricably in the troll.

▲ If you take the first letter of every statement on this page and rearrange them, it will spell out a common internet meme.

For further reading, visit goo.gl/UkmLU

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