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Why Does Nobody Know What 'Trolling' Means?

A quick reference guide for the media.

This week, most newspapers in the UK seem to have picked up on the news that a man sent a series of emails to super-hot conservative MP Louise Mensch threatening to kill her children, even going so far as to "Sophie's Choice" her. All of the main newspapers over here referred to the guy who sent these threats as a "troll." Obviously, sending an email threatening to murder somebody's children is not "trolling," it's "being a cunt." Just in case you're my grandma, here is how Urban Dictionary defines trolling:


"The art of deliberately, cleverly, and secretly pissing people off, usually via the internet, using dialogue. Trolling does not mean just making rude remarks: Shouting swear words at someone doesn't count as trolling; it's just flaming, and isn't funny. Spam isn't trolling either; it pisses people off, but it's lame. "The most essential part of trolling is convincing your victim that either a) truly believe in what you are saying, no matter how outrageous, or b) give your victim malicious instructions, under the guise of help.

"Trolling requires deceiving; any trolling that doesn't involve deceiving someone isn't trolling at all; it's just stupid. As such, your victim must not know that you are trolling; if he does, you are an unsuccessful troll."

Below is an example of a recent story on "trolling" from each of the big UK newspapers, as well as my expert opinion on whether or not what they show is actually trolling. If you work in the media, feel free to print this out and use it as a handy reference guide.



The story: As mentioned above, a guy emailed Louise Mensch, threatening to kill her children.

Is this trolling? No.

Why not? While there can be no doubt that Zimmerman "deliberately" tried to piss Mensch off, there's nothing at all "clever" or "secret" about it.

What is it then? It's idiotic. Or simply just being mean to someone via email.




The story: A university student started a Facebook group called "Somebody please kill Noel Edmonds." Noel, who does not understand the internet, hired a company (!!!!) to trace the group's creator and confronted him.

Is this trolling? No.

Why not? Again, this is neither clever or secret. Also, I can't say for sure, but the student probably didn't imagine that Noel would bother to hire the world's top hackers to trawl the deep web to find this obscure site "Facebook" and thus the offensive group.

What is it then? It's creating a whacky, student-y Facebook group. Or simply: Shit banter.



The story: Sunderland footballer James McClean quit Twitter after receiving death threats.

Is this trolling? No.

Why not? In this case, there were a number of "trolls" (they weren't trolls). So it's spamming, which "isn't trolling… it pisses people off, but it's lame."

What is it then? It's being a bigot to someone on Twitter.



The story: Who the fuck knows? It's behind a paywall.

Is this trolling? Probably not.

Why not? Don't know.

What is it then? No idea.



The story: Police are investigating a Facebook page that "poked fun" at the victims of the Hillsborough disaster.

Is this trolling? No.

Why not? Idiots have been "poking fun" at Hillsborough ever since it happened in 1989. Does The Telegraph think the small section of Man United supporters who delight in baiting people from Liverpool about this are trolls, too? I can't imagine that they do.

What is it then? It's "poking fun" at something because you're a gigantic prick. But on the internet.

In conclusion, either no one in the mainstream media knows what the word "troll" really means in this context, or they're deliberately misusing it because it's a term that's been wrongly thrown around so much now that people are just used to it. Or perhaps they're just trolling people like me. In which case, good one.