In Defense Of The Internet Troll
I’ve recently discovered a new hobby — troll hunting.
The other night as I was finishing up season one of Game of Thrones (I know, I know I’m way behind), I sent an innocuous tweet about how excited I was to finally start the series. My friends and colleagues had been talking about Game of Thrones for so long, I figured I better jump on the Medieval bandwagon before it left me behind for good.
What happened next was certainly unexpected but surprisingly humorous. I received this response to my tweet from a Twitter account called “Ruining Your Show.”
Ned dies in season 9, they told me. I had officially been trolled by an anonymous Twitter account dedicated solely to ruining TV shows for people. And it was a textbook troll.
According to Know Your Meme, Internet trolling is defined as:
“An Internet slang term used to describe any Internet user behavior that is meant to intentionally anger or frustrate someone else.”
I didn’t really know what to do for several minutes after I read the tweet.
On one hand I was angry that the show was potentially ruined for me, but on the other I thought the Twitter account was an absolutely hilarious idea. Luckily for me, I already knew about Ned’s unfortunate death in Game of Thrones. I work on the Internet, so all of the deaths on the show had been revealed to me through memes, GIFs, parody videos and conversations between coworkers.
I was immune to this troll’s trolling. But he wasn’t immune to mine.
I made the decision to troll the troll back, but I knew I must act fast. I sent this response:
The perfect response, I thought! It was short, to the point and told the person on the other end of the computer screen that they had no power over me.
But he wanted to keep going.
What a fool! I knew about those deaths as well. I readied my anti-troll battle-ax and went in for the kill.
There was nothing left for the troll to do. He scampered back under his virtual bridge to troll another day.
What I learned from this is that the best way to defeat an Internet troll is to troll them back. By acting like his attempt to ruin my TV show had no effect on me, the troll was rendered powerless. In a sense, my unwillingness to participate in outrage or shock was the ultimate troll.
The Rules Of The Internet are a list of protocols popularized by 4chan and Anonymous that dictate Internet behavior. Rule 14 specifically references trolls and says, “Do not argue with trolls — it means that they win.”
I reject this. And I only look to Rule 20 to reinforce this view: “Nothing is to be taken seriously.”
The Internet is made for trolls. We’re on their turf, and we shouldn’t be upset if they do what they do best. So what if your favorite TV has just been ruined? You’re asking for it. You are on the Internet. The world will keep spinning and the trolls will keep trolling.
Next time you are met online with a trick or a prank, try not to take yourself too seriously. Pick up your club and join the trolls. They’re the one’s having all the fun.
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