In Scandinavian folklore, trolls were supernatural creatures who lived far from the villages and towns. They were depicted as grotesque in appearance and unfriendly in demeanor. They became hostile upon encountering humans. Even going as far as threatening to kidnap them. In Norse Mythology, the trolls were the enemies of the beloved deities, and therefore, they were to be scorned and feared.
In 21st-century Internet culture, not much has changed. Despite the societal progress accomplished over the past few centuries, trolls continue to exist. However, the descendants of those dastardly, anti-social creatures have drastically revamped their habits and lifestyles. Rather than residing in the mountains, forests and under bridges, trolls dwell among us. A troll could be found anywhere, from the office to your local art museum. They occupy all walks of life, from well-to-do medical physicians to card-crunching janitors. They’re parents, children, siblings, friends, and lovers. Not only are they indistinguishable from the homo sapiens, they are, indeed, members of our species.
Cyberspace is the troll’s natural feeding ground. The troll scavenges from behind his computer screen. Lurking through various web outlets and social media platform, fueled with a strange combination of hate and boredom, the troll baits his prey with vitriol. Every emotional response, every tear shed, every bellow of angst nourishes his craving. So the troll continues to sow his poisonous seeds, hoping more users would take the bait so he can sustain a widespread hobby unknown to those who lived during the pre-WWW era.A couple of weeks ago, ABC News ran a story on this strange, yet ubiquitous phenomenon of internet trolling. They profiled a (in)famously polemical writer named Milo Yiannopoulos, a technology journalist for Breitbart News who unabashedly brands himself ‘the supervillian of the internet’. Yiannopoulos made headlines last mouth for verbally harassing Leslie Jones, a lead actress for the feminized Ghostbusters remake, on Twitter and subsequently got banned from the micro-blogger site. Flamboyantly histrionic, Yiannopoulos made it clear to the interviewer that he has no regrets for his behavior. In fact, he believes that trolling is warranted in order to “combat feminism and cultural liberalism”.
Now, I don’t have to restate my opinion on third-wave feminism and SJW liberal rhetoric. You can refer to my previous posts. Nevertheless, I don’t approve of Yiannopoulos’s actions. His asinine behavior was completely juvenile. I mean, we all cringed at the Ghostbusters remake but it doesn’t mean you have to act like a middle-school bully!
Leslie Jones deactivated her Twitter account as a result of the trolling. However, I think she was mistaken in her approach. On the other side of the globe, there is another television personality who also received unwarranted comments from those anonymous, behind-the-screen, warriors.
Ranjini Haridas is a Cochin-based model and host of Idea Star Singer (the Malayali version of American Idol). Although her Anglicized Malayalam has annoyed more than a few (including myself), she is deemed as the epitome of the modern Malayali woman. Despite being past her thirties, she’s unmarried and has no qualms about it. She’s notably fashionable, luring the admiration of young girls and triggering the fantasies of teenage boys as she sensually dons a dazzling, figure-hugging outfit during every airing of Idea Star Singer. She’s outspoken, bold and independent. Unfortunately, this has somehow attracted the ire of a certain group of men in Kerala, drunk with misogynistic rage. They’ve taken to Facebook and posted vulgar comments about Haridas, shaming her behavior, her attire, her lifestyle and even her ancestry (apparently tharavad-shaming is a common practice in Kerala)!
Ranjini Haridas continually makes the conscious choice to stand above the cyber-hatred. The vitriol spewed from trolls is nothing but a source of amusement for her. After all, we all know the adage: “Sticks and stones can break my bones but words can never hurt me”.
Although, she hasn’t shied away from giving her detractors the finger..
We often envision trolls to be these basement-dwelling losers, desperately putting down people to compensate for their own misery. While this may be the case for some, most of the time, trolls are moderately successful people who inexplicably take pleasure in provocation. In the words of Alfred Pennyworth from The Dark Knight..
So what is the best way to combat the plague of trolling? Well, trolls are histrionic narcissists who thrive on hostile reactions. So the best thing to do is deprive them of their nourishment. In folklore, trolls reside under the bridge. In the modern era, trolls hide behind a computer screens. Under they have the guts to be inflammatory to your face, their remarks don’t warrant a response