I’ve been thinking a lot recently about trolls.

You know, trolls–  not The Three Billy Goats Gruff kind, the internet version: “Someone who posts controversial and usually irrelevant or off-topic messages in an online community, such as an online discussion forum, chat room, *(OR BLOG)*,  with the intention of baiting other users into an emotional response or to generally disrupt normal on-topic discussion.”

There was a lot of talk at the BlogHer conference about trolls. I always thought the whole concept was kind of harmless, in an annoying way– I mean, who really cares if some idiot leaves some stupid comment on your blog? I’m not saying it wouldn’t hurt my feelings, you know what a delicate, sensitive flower I am, but overall? Meh. But apparently a lot of bloggers have had really scary experiences with them, ranging from incredibly personally insulting comments about the bloggers’ parenting abilities, character, and children, all the way up to threats and cyberstalking. Why someone would have such an intense reaction to reading about someone else’s life or opinions is beyond me, but of course I also have trouble understanding wars and drive-by shootings, so I’m probably not the one to figure out motivation here!

Then I read an article from the NY Times Magazine this weekend on the very subject, and it was seriously chilling. This reporter tracked down a couple of the more infamous trolls and arranged to kind of enter into their world and meet with them. Check it out– it’s a little long, so just skim it if you want to, but seriously? The picture of the guy on the front page kinda tells you all you need to know. Go ahead, I’ll wait.

How scary is that?! Obviously there are some mental illness or personality disorder issues at work here, but these are also highly skilled people with a sophisticated level of computer intelligence who have chosen to do some real damage to other people. The most horrifying part to me was the complete amoral lack of empathy or sense of responsibility for the results of their actions. Their general attitude reflected such a deep, scatter-shot hatred and resentment of other people for whatever twisted reasons of their own, coupled with a desire to lash out– like the Unabomber, or that anthrax guy that just committed suicide. I fundamentally just don’t get it.

And here’s the saddest part: I realized as I was doing my troll research, especially when I was tracking down and reading some of my favorite bloggers’ experiences with them, that I am so hopelessly white-bread, so benign and uncontroversial a presence in the blogosphere that chances are, I will never have an “OMG, I have just been attacked by a mean ol’ troll!” experience of my own to write about. Middle-aged suburbanite mothers of two married to gospel singers just don’t seem to incite that level of passion, even among crazy people. I rarely, if ever, piss anybody off with my friendly little posts about sharkbites and adventures in gardening. *sigh* I am innocuous, tepid, warm and fuzzy. (Although I could start swearing more… that actually would not be a stretch for me and it seems to work for every other blogger in the world a few people… Nah. My parents are still alive.)

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to be attacked or grievously insulted, but you know, a little snarkiness wouldn’t kill me. So, dear readers, I’m asking for your help. If I am ever to rise to the levels of blogging I aspire to, you are going to have to do me a solid, here. Please leave me at least one good trollish comment, something I can sink my teeth into and brag about to the other bloggers. I need the street cred.

Here, I’ll even help you out– something like:

“Tori, you really need to touch up your roots more often!” or

“Wow, are you EVER going to finish unpacking your garage? Dang, you’ve lived there two years!”  or

“You voted for John Kerry and you call yourself a Christian?!”

Stuff like that. But not anything, you know, tacky. Because you do NOT want to see me do the ugly cry.

19 Responses

  1. teegees

    In an attempt to make you feel a little less square, I came up with this:


    Why did you leave the e out of bloomEr? Just what exactly do you have against vowels, specifically Es? Is this some sort of liberal conspiracy, possibly some kind of gang lingo? I’m definitely going to have the authorities look into this.

  2. teegees

    Oh shoot, I forgot, to look really authentic I need to mispell things and use some “reel bad grammer”. Shucks, better luck next time!

  3. auburn60

    I thought we were gonna talk about troll eraser pencil-toppers. You know–the kind you coveted in the 3rd grade.
    Is that an ‘irrelevant or off-topic message’?

  4. rockin robyn

    Trolls! Man they sure can change innocence – can’t they! I still have a cute little pink haired troll doll that I have had since I was a young’n… me and my sisters each got one with the hair being of our favorite color. Now, a troll is an evil lurker in peoples blogs… o.k. I’ve got an anger issue to throw at you… I’ve said this before in here – but I came on to this sight because I’m a big fan of Russ’s.. he’s my hero – he’s a man of God to me… his music and his singing preaches to me and well in here you pick on him too much – quit picking on my hero!! If you don’t I’ll I’ll …. I’ll stop lurking — LOL! Now there’s a threat for ya!

    Actually I won’t stop because I love hearing about the Taff’s and you are a neat lady… different but special! Sorry! I don’t have it in me to be mean…

    o.k. how about this one… what is up with the black bar running down the left side of the comments section… you can’t read other peoples comments unless you scroll down… did something happen to your blog sight that isn’t fixable – aren’t you in control of this blog – chop chop!!! LOL!

  5. gracelynn

    Sorry Tori – I don’t think I can be much help in this category. After all, I teach business classes and have to teach ethics to these kids. I mean, I spend three days a year scaring the living heck out of them about the possibility of their identity being stolen, even at their middle school age. So it wouldn’t look too good if one of my kids happened to come on here and read a troll comment. Because I know what would happen the next day at school – it would be all over the halls and teachers in the teacher lounge would be in the corner whispering how I turned into a troll and made a nasty comment to someone online. Tsk tsk….maybe some of these other ladies who don’t have to teach about ethics can help you out. ;)

  6. LindaB

    YOU VOTED FOR JOHN KERRY? THAT LILY-LIVERED, SILVERSPOON FED ALL HIS LIFE, LYIN’ PIECE OF HORSECRAP? That disgrace to the military uniform he wore—–for a nano second? What were you thinkin’? Wow, I can’t believe it! And you call yourself a Christian? Well, I’ve got a newsflash for YOU! Next time, let your dogs vote—-they could do a better job!

    Okay, how was that? Happy now? Is that enough “street cred” for ya? (Do trolls make any money?)

    p.s. I love ya—–I was just trollin’ around with ya. And I was in a bad mood ’cause I just realized today that I’ve gained five pounds. Dang!

    Oh, and thanks—–I didn’t have to look up ANY words today in your blog entry.

  7. LindaB

    Just posting to move the last entry over so I can see it—which was mine. I wanna see if I spelled everything right.

    And speaking of trollish comments, Tori…….is that nephew of yours working on this blog thingy messin’ up? You know how old I am——-time is short!

  8. LindaB

    I just realized you said please leave ONE trollish comment, and I left several. Sorry. I’m an overachiever in some areas…..apparently not in the DIETING AREA however!

  9. daniel

    Crazy nephew here. Finally fixed the comments for you Internet Explorer 6 users. Tally-ho!

  10. LindaB

    Well, Daniel, I still have the end of our comments blacked out on the right side. Is that MY computer? Or censorship? LOL

    Thanks, Daniel!!!! We appreciate you!

  11. daniel

    Should be better now. I recommend upgrading your browser to Internet Explorer 7 if you haven’t already. It will make the layout of this site a little easier on the eyes. Enough technical mumbo jumbo. Back to the blogging!

  12. gracelynn

    Thanks Daniel! You rock!

  13. auburn60

    Yay Daniel! Can we all be your aunts?

  14. tori

    (Don’t you just love The Computer Genius?! Isn’t he a cutie?)

    Ok, I have been laughing my head off at your comments! Wait- I mean, I am CRUSHED! I am sobbing my eyes out! How could you be so cruel?!

    Thanks to you all, I now feel like a Real Live Blog. Yeah, that’s right- I’m a bada**, I have TROLLS!

    I especially loved auburn and rockin robyn’s detour into troll dolls– I DID have one of those troll erasers that go on the end of your pencil in fourth grade. Loved it so much.
    I also loved gracelynn’s ‘inner teacher’ not allowing her to be ugly in print, and teegee may have had to reach deep to come up with something but you have to admit, she did it with gusto, even if she does spell way too well to be a true troll.

    Which brings us to Linda B… who jumped in with both feet, went for it, and then privately emailed me later to make sure I wasn’t offended! Now THAT’S my kind of trolls– they all have such lovely manners!

    Seriously, thanks for playing along, you guys always make me laugh. Oh, and I fixed that link to the NYT article so now I don’t think you have to sign into anything. Check it out, especially that photo– YIKES!

    And rockin’ robyn, I’ll do my best to treat our sweet Russ with more respect…

    Nah, who am I kidding?!

  15. Barbara M. Lloyd

    I don’t know why I have to log in just about everytime I get ready to post….sixteen people get ahead of me in line and post before I even get on to do my thing….Linda B posts three or four before I even post one….and tell that girl who likes my Russ to get in line behind me….OH MY GOODNESS, my neighbor just came in and said I wasn’t supposed toWHINE. Well, there you go, I just couldn’t bring myself to say anything trollish about my sweet Tori… know, that little blonde who causes me to say extra prayers for my Russ ever so often. Un….I think I did it.

  16. camommy2kj

    Ahem. Seriously? You voted for John Kerry? Yeah well… I second everything Linda said! hahaha But I still love you! :) Shoot… I think I contrdicted my troll post!

  17. LindaB

    OMG! I just read that New York Times article about the REAL trolls! What meanies! What scum buckets! How heartless and unconscionable can a human being get?

    But you know, I’ll put my resident bipolar teenage girl in a bad mood with a worse attitude up against those amateurs any day of the week——–and I’ll take bets!

  18. Barbara M. Lloyd

    You know, I tried to read that stuff….but it sounded evil to me and so I elected to not read any farther. Tori, I want you to be a free spirit and talk about anything that comes into your head…..but, as for the Trolls, we really don’t need them ’round here. If anyone gets mean-spirited, we’ll just sic Linda’s bi-polar child on them. (Gracious, Linda, bi-polar or not, she’s a sweetheart) As I was saying, your loyal and devoted readers can take care of any Trolls. They don’t wanna mess with us mommas…, and grandmommas.

  19. kwr221

    You have a TATTOO!? How tacky.

    On yer toe?!

    :::eagerly::: Can I see?

    PS – I know this post is a few weeks old and I’m new here. I just wanted to try out the troll thing.

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