A Twitter follower reminded me of a line in the famous parable from Bion of Borysthenes: “Boys throw stones at frogs in fun, but the frogs do not die in fun, but in earnest.” Defenders of trolling insist it’s all just a joke, but if trolling is inherently designed to get a rise out of someone, then that’s what it really is. In many cases, it is designed to look and feel indistinguishable from a genuine attack. Whether you believe what you are saying or not is often immaterial because the impact is the same — and you are responsible for it, regardless of how funny you think it is. It is a lesson kids learn time and time again on the playground, and yet, it is ridiculously difficult for people to accept the same basic notion in online culture, no matter their age. Why is that so? Because those are the social norms that develop when you create a culture where everything is supposed to be a joke.
It’s no accident that the corners of the internet that subscribe most deeply to this idea are also the most openly miserable.
Film Crit Hulk on trolling.