Trolls are nasty creatures. The misshapen, ill-mannered, ill-tempered, kidnapping monsters hide from light and morality and eat their kinfolk and farm animals. From their Norse beginnings to their modern internet incarnation, trolls are objectionable on all levels. (Buckle up, Betsy. I think this may be a rough ride.)
Trolls popped out of the ground into existence in Norse mythology as a negative kind of giant. When they crossed to the other side of the Scandinavian peninsula, they severed from the giants to be the trolls of legend.
Living in rock formations, mountains (Who is going to be the first person to say hillbilly?) and caves (Neanderthal, anyone?), these often ugly, brutish, dimwitted, anti-social, mean-spirited creatures liked the distance between themselves and humans. They did not mind getting close for a lamb dinner, though.
Some authors have painted trolls with much more human visages, speech and characteristics, but none could completely shed their strange familial habits of pairing off in father-daughter or mother-son units. (Please save your incest japes for my hatemail box…not the comments.)
Regardless of nuance variances, trolls are loathsome monsters, no matter which author, filmmaker or video game designer conjured them. They are bent on mischief, mayhem and wickedness.
Sunlight is said to turn a troll to stone. Varying tribes of trolls are more resistant to daylight than others. Then, we turn to the dawn of a new age.
Today’s troll may be more linguistically advanced, but is just as vile. Hiding behind a screen name, avatar and computer screen, the troll is just as mean and hateful as the rock-hiding species of old.
Rather than offering anything of value, the troll vomits off-topic, hurtful and spammy comments every place where positive, neutral or constructively critical feedback is warranted, acceptable or desired.
Good luck with that. The troll only makes its intentional comments to elicit an emotional response. This small-minded vermin is as happy with negative attention as any other form.
Likened to terrorists, trolls sabotage and create mischief wherever they turn up in the virtual world. Even if the troll has a venue of its own, like a blog, it is far happier voting down other’s material instead of creating valuable material of its own.
Just like its mythological ancestors, internet trolls are kidnappers. Since finding an edible (physical) plump goat or elementary-school aged child is impossible on the web, trolls are content to kidnap your audience.
By dropping controversial and/or offensive remarks, trolls force you (or your audience) to defend your space’s honor. Alternatively, with sufficient negativity, trolls can alienate your audience altogether.
Super Genius or Ultra Maroon
The troll is convinced it has superior (intellect, morals, ideals) and will employ whatever means at its disposal to reveal your perceived shortcomings. While it will stoop to abysmal depths to wreak its havoc, knowing how it thinks (Yes, it has a method.) is an effective means of seeing its actions for what they are: Sabotage.
It will remember what you say in an effort to use the statements out of context to destroy your authority for your given subject. It will employ tangential references to establish its own authority. Even in its typo-laden, out-of-context, misquoted way, a small amount of credence is developed. This is how the troll lures its prey: Appealing to the primal and baser instincts of your audience.
For all its brutish strength, trolls are afraid to come out and engage. Often blamed on fear of daylight, the cowardice is actually a diversionary tactic. Trolls wait until you are nowhere near your space in hopes your unguarded audience will venture out for it to pounce upon them. Whether to convince them you have no authority or merely to eat your reputation (tastes like sheep), trolls will not be brave and face you, in the privacy of your message box or when you are present to comment or remove its comments.
Do Not Feed The Trolls
The only effective means of dealing with trolls is to ignore them. When its hunting ground is devoid of well-meaning, tenderhearted, knowledgeable, argumentative prey, it will skulk back to its lair (crawl back under its rock).
When was the last time you saw a troll? How did you defeat it? Has it moved to a different hunting ground? Have you ever been kidnapped or brutalized by a troll? What is effective defense against trolls?
(c) Ann Marie Dwyer 2012
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