Trolling – Craving Notoriety
There are too many people in the world, all clamouring for attention and crying out to be heard. How does one voice, certain of its own clarity and purity, rise above the rest of humanity; all thinking they have something worthy to say?
As a writer what will make my erudition and insight rise cream-like to the surface; pushing past the bobbing turds of everyone else’s lacklustre prose? And what is it that I want? To occupy a moral high ground from which I may never be seen or heard, decaying slowly into poverty and dejection. Or to sell my books and see them translated to the silver screen where a burly man will bang a gong to my success? And if it is the latter what is it I prepared to sacrifice to feel red carpet beneath my new patent leather shoes?
It is in that dream, swathed in the Armani tuxedo or Versace dress, we find the gnarled form of the troll: someone who uses a brief platform to launch an indefensible attack because if they cannot have adulation they will take attention.
The troll may also have done the maths. “If I say something patently ridiculous, against which a hundred commentators will marshal two hundred arguments, which thousands will read… then the online vitriol will not touch my skin, but thousands who have never heard of me, or taken an interest, will know my name. Some will want to research me, to find out more about this mentalist that mistook idiocy for iconoclasm. That will generate hits. Hits may go on to generate sales. That’s more interest and hits and sales than an intelligent reflection on the same subject would engender.”
None of that is not to suggest the troll is stupid. Far from it, but it is the low cunning of the provocateur, the self interested trap laying of the ivory poacher, not the reasoned passion of the conservationist.
But perhaps the greater fault lies with the rest of us. Those who rise up in indignation, tapping furiously from bum creased leatherette onto crumb laden keyboards. Well meaning, well-articulated oxygen is pumped into greedy lungs that will return only carbon dioxide, and no growth.
I am guilty. Yesterday Damyanti posted a very finely crafted rebuttal to a piece of errant nonsense that came out under the aegis of Huffington Post.
The target of the troll’s ire was JK Rowling, who has been placed on a pedestal by success and popular acclaim, and has somehow become fair game for anyone. The argument was bent as a nine bob note, and deliberately crafted to be so.
I and more than a hundred others piled in with comments and praise for Damyanti, and varying reflections on Rowlings literary merit.
So here is the damned Cocker Spaniel barking at the Labrador* – the rebuttal needed to be written, but now a host of readers and writers know the name of a troll we would otherwise have blissfully ignored. Some have already been on book review sites to see what the troll has written. Some may buy. Come buy, come buy as the goblins said.
Everything has gone a bit Faerie, bear with me.
Mission accomplished for the troll. An unremarkable writer has generated column inches they would otherwise never have garnered, and has eased up a notch in the global notoriety stakes. In a few years the trolling will be forgotten, swamped in the mass of data splurging around the world. If the troll achieves great success a muck raker may unearth the offending article, but by then who will care?
Does it matter? A deliberate provocation inspired a fine response. Without the trolling there would be no rebuttal, other writers would not have gathered in common cause. Goodness followed, all hail the troll.
Yet I can’t help feeling sullied by the experience. I have gifted notoriety to the troll with my participation. A higher and noble purpose may have been served here, Melpomene may be graciously bestowing her favours on us all; but there is enough injustice and untruth and self serving arse gravy out there without more being added to it.
So yes, it does matter. That is why I have not mentioned the troll here at all. I won’t play that game anymore. We need to respond, swiftly, accurately, beautifully to the ignorant and self-serving, but that does not absolve them of the guilt of being wankers in the first place.
And yet, and yet, and yet, I’m reminded of a little truism. There are wankers and there are liars.
*Pair of dogs – Paradox. Keep up.