In Defense of Trolling

July 16, 2010

I was banned long ago from Yahoo Answers after several months of harassing teenagers. Many of their questions were so stupid and/or naive they were begging to be insulted. How could I resist? The Internet gives me a place to vent without directly offending people. That’s why /b/ is fun, though it can get monotonous.

Of course, I would never say anything like that to someone’s face. My sense of humor is basically The Family Guy without the FCC watching. After college I realized that many people are easily offended by off-color humor. Since the ratio of female to male viewers for Family Guy skews heavily towards drunken frat boys, I’m particularly careful around women. In real life, I talk with a 3 second delay to filter my speech for anything that might offend. Once a gal said I should speak freely because she’s cool and all. I said, “Good, ’cause I was wondering if that fishy smell was the appetizer or your pussy. I’m sending one of them back to the kitchen.” She was not amused, and I learned to cauterize a knife wound with a candle.

So a lot of trolling is just people venting and joking around, not the breakdown of civil society. It only gets viscous when someone discovers your soft underbelly of emotional vulnerability. That’s when things get really fun.

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