Maybe I’m an Internet Troll?

Do you ever wonder if some long held belief you have about yourself is all wrong? Like, for example, maybe you don’t have a good fashion sense? That wearing the same pair of yoga pants and t shirt (you know, the one that says “YMCA Camp Big Elk Creek 2011” with a hole in the underarm) doesn’t mean you’re flouting fashion trends, it just means you’ve stopped caring? Or maybe you’re not really the nice, kind person you think you are because you’ve been unable to sleep at night since you heard your old college classmate, the one everyone knew cheated on the 19th Century American Literature final (although she denied it), just published a story in The Atlantic?

Listen to me as I disrupt your blog post about dinner at Applebee's!

I’m out there, yammering on your blog.

That’s the feeling I had over the past week as I found myself getting into fights commenting on two separate blog posts. The first was over on Suffolk Scribblings, Dylan Hearn’s blog on writing and music. Dylan had written the post, “The Ten Worst Writing Tips I Received.” In my head, my comment was, “Hey, none of this is really bad advice and here’s why” but instead it must have sounded like, “OMG, how can you be such a fucking idiot as to think any of this is bad advice, you fucking moron!” because that post got 92 (yes, 92!) comments, none of which disagreed with Dylan like I did. In fact, several readers came to his defense which prompted the blogger himself to say

Karen and I have a history of disagreeing on things but I like her all the more for it. She is honest, heartfelt and can often persuade me to change my mind.

I didn’t realize that we had a history but, upon reflection, I remembered offering a few alternative opinions on his blog, most notably in discussions comparing self-publishing to traditional publishing. OK, fair enough, maybe I did have a history of disagreeing on Suffolk Scribblings.

Then along comes this post, “Pornography, Sexuality and the Empowerment of Belle Knox,” from the blog bodycrimes. Now, I most definitely do have a history of disagreeing on bodycrimes, a blog about feminism and female body image, though my disagreements are not so much with the blog’s author as with the commenters on the site. I once found myself in the bizarre position of sounding like I was defending pedophiles (I wasn’t!) in a discussion on sexual consent. So there I was this week, again disagreeing with a comment another reader had made.

I’m not sure who’s worse: those conscience-free sociopaths who state that they would have no problem if their child made that “choice” for themselves, or those who wiggle in their efforts to rationalize their support (and consumption of) porn while feeling uncomfortable with a prospect of their own child “working” in it. At the end it may not matter all that much. I don’t know any (normal*) human child (girl) who dreams of becoming a porn “star” when they grow up.

Hamburger, beef cheese burger with tomato

Conscience-free sociopaths eat cheeseburgers.

And this is what I replied.

A couple of things (I hesitated to even respond to this post, but I’m one of those “sex positive feminists (as if)” you deride, so I feel compelled).

First, I had a cheeseburger for lunch and yet I still don’t want my daughter to grow up to work the grill at McDonald’s.

It is freedom when people make decisions that *you* would not make. That’s exactly what freedom is.

I disengaged from the discussion after another commenter joined in because, appearances to the contrary, I felt that I’m not the sort of person who instigates Internet Fights. And then I started thinking, wait a minute, maybe I am that person! Why else would I get into these two different incidents in the same week?

Good grief, am I an internet troll???

In that moment, I imagined the feeling that came over me must be like what a transgender person feels when they realize they’re living in the wrong body: I felt that I was an Internet Troll trapped inside a Normal Person.

It probably goes without saying that I’m argumentative by nature. An early boyfriend broke up with me because he didn’t like to fight (I was nineteen and addicted to drama). In addition, I’ve always been outspoken and a bit of a pedant (last month I found it necessary to explain the difference between “foment” and “ferment” to a colleague) and three years of law school added the ability to argue both sides of any issue, so there’s a perfect storm fermenting fomenting inside me.

While researching this post, I went back through my recent comments on WordPress blogs. Here’s what I had to say on Sophie, She Wrote.

Very, very funny stuff 🙂

And on One Awkward Year.

All the trim in my house is now [painted] “Fleece.”

So maybe I’m not an internet troll. It’s not like I fight with everyone, except I do seem to keep running into people who are horribly, misguidedly, incontrovertibly wrong about everything.

Royalty free images, including the ones in this post, can be found at freeimages.com. 

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24 thoughts on “Maybe I’m an Internet Troll?

  1. Michelle at The Green Study says:

    My understanding of an internet troll is someone who is deliberately provocative, even going so far as to write things they don’t necessarily believe. I don’t think you qualify, since you disagree in earnest.
    The internet is one of those places where disagreement quickly gets blown out of proportion, though. I’m often amazed at how quickly people will jump in to defend a blogger, as if the blogger themselves has been rendered mute by disagreement.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Karen says:

      Oh, I don’t really think I’m a troll. I’m not disrespectful and I think my comments always reflect the fact that I’ve actually read the post, and considered it, before replying and I think most bloggers appreciate that. It’s funny that my issues so often have involved other commenters rather than bloggers themselves.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Dylan Hearn says:

    I’ve never considered you a troll or even overly argumentative. As I mentioned in my blog, I enjoy it when you come in with a different point of view. Most of what I write is opinion, not fact. It’s not sacrosanct and certainly not applicable to everyone (or even anyone but me). I was as surprised as you were at the support my post received. I was convinced most people would disagree (I even said so at the beginning). Perhaps the sheer volume (I was surprised at that too) of those agreeing put off anyone else from disagreeing. I hope not.
    As Michelle said above, trolls tend to take the contrary position to generate a response, usually annoyance or anger. I’ve never thought of you in that way. Forthright? Absolutely! But that is a good thing.

    Like

  3. bodycrimes says:

    Being provocative is good. One of the fun things about the Internet is coming across people with different views who can challenge stale thinking.

    Trolling is different – the trash can in my comments section is full of insults written almost entirely in swear words. I am usually happy to post insults, because they usually say more about the poster, but some of the rants are just run-on filth. That’s trolling.

    One thing I’ve noticed is that people who are very rigid in their beliefs, or people who are invested in cult thinking or conspiracy thinking, will always call dissenters ‘trolls’. Different thing.

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    • Karen says:

      I’ve never been called a troll, at least, not to my face, but I do recognize that I’m sometimes poking people with a stick (metaphorically) a lot of the times when I comment on posts. It’s something I’m aware of and I try to control the more obnoxious elements of my personality (not always with success).

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  4. balletandboxing says:

    I can so relate! I often feel I am having a debate, a discussion, an exchange of opinions only to have it reflected back to me that really, I am argumentative and a shit-disturber.

    Since when does seeking clarification about someone’s strongly held opinion equate being a shit-disturber? I wish I could send a reflection of themselves back to those people, one they would understand. I’ve never succeeded, and am slowly learning to try less frequently.

    Like

    • Karen says:

      Right! There’s a large bunch of people out there in the world who do not want their thoughts or ideas challenged. They prefer a nodding chorus of sycophants to actually engaging in thoughtful debate.

      And then there are the shit-stirrers like us. 🙂

      Like

  5. Sophie, She Wrote says:

    I love it when people comment on my blogs – you don’t have to do it, you could simply go on with your day but to take the time to say something means a lot. I think it is important to say something even if you are not necessarily agreeing with what is on the post as it makes for interesting debate. As long as it is constructive and not simply being nasty for the sake of being nasty then I’d stick with it!

    I’ve had my very own internet troll and believe me he wasn’t as nice as you are http://sophieshewrote.wordpress.com/2014/07/25/are-you-there-troll-its-me-sophie/

    (Sorry for the obvious plug)

    Love the blogging – keep writing (and thanks for the lovely comments)!
    Soph x

    Like

  6. Joyce says:

    I was just thinking that “I hate bugs” is quite an incendiary comment. Then again, I made a comment on your last post that appeared to be defending college rapists and right-wing hacks, so let’s call it even.

    Like

    • Karen says:

      You really should have banned me for all the bug-hating bullshit I spouted on your blog . . .

      Regarding my reply to your comment on a previous post, there’s that tone thing again. I really thought you were raising a legitimate point (Where will this end? Are we going to start prosecuting people when they don’t have a signed contract to engage in intimate acts with another person?) but I think I sounded like I was going on the attack in my response, and I wasn’t–I was just looking for clarification. It’s a good point to raise in the debate.

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  7. oneawkwardyear says:

    I have always thought of you as quite troll like! Talking about FLEECE! But I think it’s fair to be a little combative, to drum up conversation if someone is blogging about a controversial topic. There is a difference between an argument and a troll!

    Like

    • Karen says:

      Believe me, it’s been hard trying to generate controversy on your blog, what with all the wedding talk and the decorating talk. But I’m going to keep on trying . . .

      Like

  8. Elyse says:

    I’m not sure you qualify as a blog troll, but having never seen you, you might just qualify as a troll doll. And they are worth a lot these days.

    Like

  9. Eli Pacheco says:

    I’d rather a commenter show up with a liter of piss and vinegar than watered-down lemonade. Bring something, and leave it, that’s what I say. Maybe you’re just the straw that stirs the drink. (Not literally piss and vinegar.)

    Like

    • Karen says:

      I think my approach to blogging is that it’s a dialogue. I think other folks think it’s a monologue and that’s where the conflict emerges.

      Like

      • Eli Pacheco says:

        If it wasn’t a dialogue, there shouldn’t be comments. “Love this!” is probably the worst comment a blogger can get. Give me something. Comments are where the action is.

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