Greetings, kids. The Grandpa of TechnoBuffalo is back with yet another caustic episode of tech-related castigation. Today I’ll be delving into the squalid mind of the Internet Troll, or as I like to call them, “Keyboard Commandos.” Equipped with an arsenal of cyber-bullying tactics, Trolls use the Internet as their master trebuchet, catapulting ostentatious, sardonic and often vile comments at those around them in order to extract some sort of reaction that usually resides within the realm of defense. Although Trolls have been roaming the Digital Interglobe for a few decades, looting and pillaging the elation and self-confidence of others, I feel as though certain websites are fructifying the tainted soil that sprouts these insidious weeds.
Take YouTube, for instance. The democratic disposition of the world’s premiere video sharing site renders it a breeding ground for Trolls of all shapes and ages. “FAKE,” “GAY” and “YOU SUCK” might as well be the site’s primary aphorisms due to their ubiquitous nature across the video-sharing landscape. Not to mention the Whitman’s Sampler of poorly spelled expletives and racially charged homing missiles. In addition, I have not discovered a single video that is devoid of a Dislike. After whittling away the prospective number of YouTube users who inadvertently click the Dislike button, the remainders are ineluctably Trolls who travel the YouTube deserts like nomads—the Dislike buttons as their nectar-bearing cacti.
When we helicopter over to the true Internet battlegrounds, the inclination to remain within the aircraft is profound. I’m speaking of online message forums, of course—the United Nations for Keyboard Commandos. While YouTube Trolls tend to reside amongst the more nebulous users and Facebook corrals the most intimate contacts into a familial cyber pen, Message Boards serve as a virtual hangout—the YMCA of online social interaction. That’s if your local YMCA allows transient nincompoops. Usually, users are drawn to message boards because they want to bolster their knowledge around a particular hobby or interest. However, you will soon come to realize that the Trolls present in Message Forums are far more diverse and cunning than the rampant mornic buffoons of YouTube, and merely exist for the sole purpose of practicing the art of Schadenfreude as a religion.
Since Message Boards are under meticulous scrutiny by power-hungry moderators who flaunt their elevated statuses as though they are children boasting plastic sheriff’s badges from a doctor’s office toy chest, arrant belligerency is typically not tolerated. As a result, Message Board Trolls will employ various forms of passive-aggressive artillery and opaque comments that are geared to infuriate and deconstruct, resulting in scathing, documented games of Hate Tetherball that proceed for hours on end until the thread is obliterated and the Trolls are forced to scurry off to another dank dominion of the board to construct a new pole.
One of my most disdained Troll adages is ‘just sayin.’ ‘Just sayin’ is by far the most vexing and inane phrase in the entire universe. Its mere existence is 100% futile, and it serves about as much purpose as an unprovoked punch in the face. ‘Just sayin’ is a helicopter ladder that evacuates the instigator from the malevolent chaos they created in the jungle of online decency. Tacking those two abhorrent little words to the end of any comment grants the perpetrator a “Get Out of Jail Free” card for the offending passage. “I think your new truck looks hideous in orange and you look like a tool driving it. Just sayin.” More like, “just being an ass and getting away with it.”
IMHO (In my humble opinion) is also a wretched digital exchange that needs to be purged from the façade of online interaction. As if anyone is going to heed ostensibly “sage” advice from an individual who spends 23 hours per day fastened to a computer monitor with a never-ending supply of cheese balls at their disposal. That’s at least how I envision Message Board addicts. In my humble opinion, I think people who type IMHO should spend less time in the Land of Make Believe and more time being productive members of a tangible society. In my humble opinion, getting some sunlight would be an ideal start.
At this point, we need to address the primary entrée on the menu, and that’s the fact that the Internet enables individuals to type things they would customarily refrain from saying to someone in real life. The jaded philosophy that online attacks are acceptable since the receiving party cannot see or hear the offender is dangerous and malicious, particularly since there are no repercussions to follow an online cyber-bullying escapade. To Trolls, the Internet is a playground for malice and diabolical behavior, and sadly, it is the only environment that provides fulfillment for the sorry sods. The ecstasy of delighting in other’s misfortunes, known as Schadenfreude in German, is the only sense of value a Troll feels in their sad, diminutive lives.
Outside of TechnoBuffalo and email, I rarely find myself intertwined with the Internet because of the rampant Troll population. The message board I belong to is composed of a group of fellow motorcycle riders and is capped at 100 members, and even then my daily perusal on that site does not exceed 10 minutes. Facebook logins are designated to checking messages and wall posts, and time allotted to that social black hole is limited to 15 minutes per day. Today it seems as though every website is accompanied by a comment section, and nearly every comment thread is defiled by a relentless Keyboard Commando. Hell, look at any Apple or Android article on this site.
As the socially fueled RPM levels increase along the virtual communication highway, we can expect the online world to be polluted by an ever-expanding effluvium of deadly Troll droves, manufactured to make us feel like insignificant dust mites within a planet far from peace. Etiquette has been tossed to the wolves while nefarious individuals continue to lob hate grenades from the most comfortable bunker one could imagine, their own computer den. A putrid miasma will engulf even the most worthy post once a Keyboard Commando has infiltrated and assailed, and this will only perpetuate until the Trolls have voraciously gobbled up every atom of decency left in the online world.
Lest we retaliate. Obviously, we can’t rely on moderators to expunge every single negative comment in the history of the World Wide Internet, nor can we hedge on idealistic dreams of a Troll-busting superhero to swoop in and crack virtual skulls together. Although, I can envision Mega Man blasting Trolls into the stratosphere with his Mega Buster arm cannon. If at some point you encounter a Troll on the Internet, there are two primary methods of defense that should be deployed, depending on the particular situation:
The Cold Shoulder
Administering the Cold Shoulder to a Troll is akin to spraying industrial strength Lysol on a patch of velutinous black mold—with enough chemical power, the hideous spot will eventually exsiccate and die. Neglect is a Troll’s kryptonite, Achilles heel, Wicked Witch water. Since Trolls nourish themselves via attention, a lack of the spotlight will eventually drive them away to another part of the Internet where they can seek the recognition they don’t receive within the real world.
The Broken Record
The Broken Record requires a trifle more skill and equanimity in order to execute properly. The top-shelf slap-shot game-winning goal for any Keyboard Commando is when they are able to summon the Queen Bee from repeated floggings of the hive, and your objective is to keep her highness inside, well sedated and complacent. So, pick a simple phrase such as “You are a troll, go back under your bridge” or my personal favorite from Wayne’s World, “A Sphincter says what?” and paste it in response to every single hate grenade lobbed in your direction. Eventually, the Troll will surrender and slither on to the next victim. The Broken Record method adds a level of humiliation to the battleground as well, and is particularly remunerative when administered properly.
Unfortunately, the Grandpa of TechnoBuffalo must be shuffling off to the local Rotary Club for the bi-weekly Whittling Contest now. The winner gets a month’s supply of prune juice, so how could one pass up this gilded opportunity? Grandpa would like to know how you deal with trolls, so please be sure to leave your responses in the comment section. Do you have your own Broken Record line you’d like to share? Leave it in the comments, and for Pete’s sake, no fighting! I must be going now—I think I just threw out my hip again.