Twitter crawls with trolls. So much so in fact, that if one were to play that game of quick word association favored by shrinks the world over and someone said Twitter, I would safely bet a month’s salary on what the response would be.
Twitter has lost out on big money specifically because of this scourge, as the tech wizzkids at Twitter HQ seem unable to control the rampant impunity of pro trolls. The company’s reputation is badly tarnished for becoming the platform du jour for zealous haters, loners, loonies, and overweight sofa dwellers the world over to funnel their own fears and insecurities at their target of choice.
But what is an online troll anyway? We’ve all heard about the other trolls, the ones you see in folk tales or children’s books in most European countries. They are short, stocky, ugly and rather repellent creatures with a penchant for hoarding stuff, particularly gold and other stolen valuables.
These mythological trolls enjoy living in isolation, out in caves up in snowy mountain peaks, or curled up inside makeshift burrows deep within the forest. Sometimes, trolls find shelter under bridges. Either way, they keep to themselves, and you better beware, for these beings certainly would not appreciate human company.
If they stumbled upon travelers, or wanderers lost out in the woods, trolls would set upon them and likely kill them and steal their valuables, perhaps out of fear and greed. Not a very gregarious bunch, these trolls.
Legend and mythology are not without a sense of irony, it seems, for today’s so-called online trolls are not that far removed from those monstrous creatures of yonder.
In fact, if there is one single feature that links both strands, is their marked lack of wit and intelligence.
Mythological trolls are easily outwitted by an intellectually superior opponent, no matter how strong or resilient the troll is, or thinks he is.
The rise of the online troll is far from a recent phenomenon, of course. They were already around by the time of the internet’s first careless whimper unto the free world, waiting to pounce on those whom they considered to be legitimate targets for abuse.
Truth be told, they have been around much longer, these trolls. In Norse mythology, five or six hundred years, give or take. In actual human society, far, far longer.
Today’s troll is yesterday’s bully. A short, stocky, ugly and rather repellent creature with a penchant for hoarding stuff, particularly gold and other valuables stolen from the other kids in the yard, or behind the local shop.
In today’s always-online world, the troll has found an easy, convenient -and more importantly, anonymous- way to bully his or her online peers. Heavy-duty trolls will be perennially at it, always searching for the next target on which to take a virtual dump.
But as we now know, the troll does have a key flaw. A monumental Achilles Heel hidden in plain sight that makes them vulnerable to quicker-witted heroes.
In dealing with the troll, avoid physical confrontation. Use your mind. Smite the offender down with one swift swipe of your crafty diction. Let them drown in their own brutish ignorance, and never, ever feed a troll’s misguided ego.