The author of this piece has chosen to remain anonymous.
First of all, I think it’s important to set out exactly what I mean by the term ‘troll’. A fair portion of the media would have you believe that ‘trolling’ is about abusing people on RIP pages or saying the most inane and vulgar thing you can think of in order to offend someone. For me, that’s not really trolling.
Trolling is an art form. Trolling is about getting a rise out of someone by calling them out on their own bullshit. Sometimes it will take the form of pretending to be an ignorant, the kind of person your target would be only too keen to tear down a few pegs. The game here is to frustrate the individual by making them think they are in a real argument.
The other side of the coin, and one I far prefer, is to take the place of someone who shares the target’s own belief but believes it outright, even when logic would usually intervene. This is essentially reductio ad absurdum for the internet age and the goal is to get your target to go back on the very belief they were espousing in the first place.
For me, most of the trolling takes place on Twitter. I use a dummy account and integrate myself in with a crowd. Sometimes it will be right-wingers like UKIP or if I’m feeling lazy, out-right racists like the BNP (they’re a fair bit easier to trick). Other times, I’ll go for lefties like Green party supporters and join them on an online campaign.
It doesn’t take long for them to welcome you in as part of the group. I think with politicos especially, they’re really looking to get as many people on board as they can. After a while, I’ll turn it round on them and start suggesting some more out-there ideas. At first, a few of them will back me up and go along with it. Then it all starts to break down into arguments.
For them, it’s deadly serious. I think that’s what I like most about it. I just sit calmly and watch these people absolutely lose their minds over some words on the internet. It’s hilarious. Really, it’s mostly about entertainment for me. I’ll choose whatever I think will have the best pay off that day and then just roll with it.
I do it because I think people take things too seriously. They take the internet too seriously, they take politics too seriously and most of all, they take themselves too seriously. What people don’t like to hear is that ‘trolling’, in a sense, is just a response to the facade we all put up online.
We know that’s not how we really are and we know that’s not really how our ‘friends’ or ‘followers’ are. We all pretend we have these perfect little lives and we wish near strangers a happy birthday or congratulate each other on what we had for dinner that night. It’s all false. ‘Trolling’ is about breaking that down and exposing the silly rules we’ve made for ourselves in the lawless land of the internet.
‘Trolling’ is a way to reconnect with the idea that the world is a playground. The internet has been monopolised by corporate interests and sterilised by mainstream appeal. I don’t want to listen to authority, I don’t want to play by your rules. That’s why I went online in the first place.