Apparently the term “troll” originated in the 16th century to describe political debate and insult in London coffee houses. The term is thrown about too loosely. When I was active in bipolar listservs in the mid-1990s, a troll was a despicable person who joined the group pretending to be bipolar. He often set people against each other, preyed on the vulnerabilities of achingly vulnerable people, pretended to be in crisis, etc. We all knew what the word meant. Who knows what it means in political debate? In my first weeks on mybarackobama, I was accused of being a troll daily. Anyone capable of rational debate is not a troll. We all get intellectually lazy about explaining our principles and policies. It does us good to be challenged.
Parents learn to ignore obnoxious toddler or preschool behavior rather than to make a big fuss about it. When my oldest daughter was 1 and 2, she pulled hair and dumped sand on people’s heads. I finally realized that she wasn’t inherently vicious; she just adored uproar. Her criminal behavior only occurred in the presence of parents absolutely guaranteed to go round the twist. She stopped eating sand when her pediatrician looked her in the eyes and told her how important it was to eat enough sand daily to stay healthy.
Real trolls love uproar. If you enjoy the insult game, you can’t complain about your comrades in insult being trolls because you obviously relish uproar as well. The devil child now works for the International Peace Institute.She no longer eats sand, although she has spent a suspiciously long time in African deserts unobserved by me. So there might be hope for trolls and the troll accusers.
If you don’t immediately recognize this, you have a serious case against your parents for child abuse and cannot be held responsible for any untoward behavior on blogs. But you need to be in your public library tomorrow morning.
“And when he came to the place where the wild things are, they roared their terrible roars and gnashed their terrible teeth and rolled their terrible eyes and showed their terrible claws till Max said, “BE STILL!” and tamed them with the magic trick of staring into all their yellow eyes without blinking once and they were frightened and called him the most wild thing of all and made him king of all wild things.”
Maurice Sendak, Where the Wild Things Are