My Dad the Troll

My kind, generous yet somewhat cantankerous old man has discovered the dark art of internet trolling, and oh how he loves it.

The most web-phobic and stubborn person in my life maintains he doesn’t understand, and doesn’t want to understand modern gadgetry (while reserving a particular disdain for Facebook). Having for years refused to fly the pre-smartphone nest, he eventually ended a 20 odd year love affair with Nokia, and made the e-leap into the realm of the Iphone and all that comes with it.

So ingrained was the Nokia format into his mind (we’re obviously talking pre Lumia), the touch screen was (and still is, to an extent) a stumbling block; Apple’s products clearly don’t transcend every generation.

Trying to explain all the wondrous things that could be done with the Iphone and the app store was exasperating; I was fighting a losing battle (As I said, the man is extraordinarily stubborn)…

Lo and behold! Man and gadget suddenly synced, there was harmony, there were signs of a blossoming rapport. First of all there was the weather app. Aside from being stubborn, the man prides himself on organisation. In the weeks leading up to taking himself off on holiday, he can check the weather daily, give equally frequent reports back to the family, and carefully consider his packing and what additions his suitcase may or may not need. This was a beautifully harmless revelation. He loves it so much that he still reports on the weather even after returning to London. He revels in the knowledge that he went at exactly the right time of year.

Switching between the foghorn, the clucking chicken and the quacking duck ringtones (always at an antisocial volume) offers perpetual amusement. Checking the stock market (often while driving) is another pleasant distraction. These are just some of the discoveries that now mean the phone is never more than 3 feet away from him, and fair enough really.

And then the trump card – Scrabble. A lifelong lover of the game, the realisation that he could play all day with friends and other people from all over the world – this was the jackpot discovery. Little did I realise it would come with one fatal flaw – setting up a Facebook account.

In his mind, Facebook is some murky underworld of time wasters and narcissists. Eventually, kicking and screaing, we set him up with an account. Simply and solely for the purpose of playing Scrabble.

Despite its initial purpose as an intermediary connecting him and other Scrabble players worldwide, Facebook has become as much of a distraction as the game itself. It is now his soapbox from which to preach, comment and god forbid, ‘like’ certain things (we’re talking blue moon rarity though).

One particular provocateur of his sensibilities is anyone who uploads photos or updates statuses more than once a day. These people are usually branded as ‘boring’ in the comments box. Fairly harmless in comparison to the vicious trollers that roam Twitter, but it probably comes under the broad definition of trolling. It is however, the prolific selfie taker that really gets this particular troller going. ‘You must be the prettiest person in London..’, is the one sarky comment that has been directed at various middle aged Russians. I imagine they are usually the glamorous beneficiaries of various oligarchs. I don’t however know where he finds them all, that is a mystery to us all. Nonetheless, I can’t say I hold it against him all that much. I think we can safely bracket this behaviour under the phenomena known as ‘loss of decorum’.

‘Dreadful’ and ‘appallingly bad’ Scrabble players are not given much sympathy either, although thankfully they are saved from the abuse various facebookers have received.

Do I put this transition from absolute technophobe to troller down to the infinite well of social media content? Or maybe it is just my old man amusing himself, at the not too harmful expense of poor Scrabble players, instagrammers and obsessive selfie takers?

Whatever it is, he’s still my old man and even if I don’t think it’s as amusing as he does, I can’t hold it against him.

‘Trolling schmolling, let me have my fun’ is what he probably thinks. Go for it Pops.

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