In Defense Of Trolling

Once upon a time, the Internet world stayed on the Internet, real life stayed in disgusting meat space, and the two only met in rare and terrifying conjunctions of space/time. The two worlds had their own language, their own customs and practices. There was never any question where you were.  It was a happier time, and I’d go so far as to say a better time.

Things have changed. Words and concepts that once existed within subcultures of subcultures now run rampant. You can discuss memes (or you prefer, may-mays) without anyone batting an eye, even if only a tiny majority knows of memes beyond image macros with impact text superimposed over them.

And that’s kind of the problem. Meat space has appropriated Internet culture and terminology, but doesn’t really get it. This isn’t to say I am against appropriation (I love Thai food and vodka), but you should really get to know what it is you are talking about before you take it as your own.

Take trolling. Once a fishing term, it eventually became the single greatest way to spend time on the Internet, short of making money. I loved it. I did it a lot. And some of you now think I’m a terrible person. Which I am, but not because I’m an unrepentant troll. Allow me to explain, and you may just see the light. However, before I can get into why trolling is so great, we need to take some time to discuss what trolling isn’t. Like so many other words, trolling has been used to describe an array of activities so vast that the word itself has lost basically all meaning. It has become another “something I don’t like” along with words like hipster or inauthentic.

For starters, threats and harassment aren’t trolling. In most jurisdictions I believe these are criminal offenses. Bullying, insulting, and teasing are not trolling either. Having misinformed or unpopular opinions are not trolling. Being factually incorrect isn’t trolling.

Others may quibble, but for the purposes of this post I would describe trolling as follows: a deliberate and insincere statement, gesture, or entire conversation over the Internet meant to inflame or make a fool of a second party, for the purposes of entertainment.

I spent a good part of my teenage years slowly studying this most august craft, learning at the feet of the troll masters of video game forums. It was glorious. And here is why I think it was overall a worthwhile endeavor.

Trolling Is Psychology And Sociology 101

Much like how I assume good fishing happens, to successfully troll you have to know your target. What they like, what they respond to, what drives them absolutely nuts. You can pick up some good rules of thumbs through observation, but ultimately you have to get in and start setting your own traps. And you will fail at first. The ruses will be transparent. You’ll go after the wrong target. It may get messy. But you will learn. Even if you have to make every wrong choice first, eventually you’ll figure out the right answer. And then you’ll do it again, and again. And all the while you’ll learn more about your fellow man-boy or lady-girl than you ever could have by being nice.

Antagonism Is Good For Us And The World

What is the last good story you read without a villain, or even a rival? Some sort of something to overcome? There might be a few, but I’m having trouble thinking of any, and I don’t really need to to make my point so HA! All the good stories have someone or something that challenges the protagonist. No one wants to hear about the time you went to the grocery store and nothing happened. They do want to hear about the time you went to the grocery store and almost got ran over by a Mack truck. Opposition is the spice of life, and by trolling you give that precious gift to another. By the way, this may go without saying, but once you start trolling you will get trolled back, so your giving of yourself will quickly be rewarded with challenges of your own. Meanwhile, there is an entire third party audience who gets to watch you out on the highest form of intellectual entertainment the Internet has to offer.

Trolling Teaches Us Critical Thinking

Once you are successfully trolled, you’re going to want to make sure it doesn’t happen again. How do you do that? By looking for the clues, often hidden in plain sight. See, while a troll must conceal the trap from his prey, he must make it easily apparent to the audience, else they won’t realize what is even going on. Once you learn these telltale signs of a troll at work, it is easy to apply it to any number of other things; biased or misleading news, unraveling logical fallacies, what have you. The Internet becomes your oyster, which segues nicely into my final point.

Trolling Gives Us Real Life Skills

Critical thinking, storytelling tropes, understanding the human mind, what do these things have in common? They are just as useful in the horrid flesh universe as they are in the series of tubes. You’ve already conquered the Internet, you dangly-armed monster; conquering real life isn’t much more difficult, particularly if you are interested in a creative or human-oriented field. Satire to enact cultural change, sales, politics of questionable ethics. You have a educational foundation that most could only wish for. Russia is on line one, President Troll.


50 Better Alternatives To Seeing “50 Shades Of Grey” on Valentine’s Day

Disclaimer: I have only tried some of these

Author’s Note: I had to Google the name to make sure it was grey and not gray.

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, some people are thinking that seeing a film adaptation of fan-fiction is a good idea. Allow me to disagree! And also allow me to suggest a few alternatives.

  1. Stay in bed.
  2. Eat lots of vanilla pudding.
  3. Go to the zoo to see the animals.
  4. Go to the zoo to see the human animals.
  5. Go to the zoo to liberate the human animals.
  6. Eat a plain bagel.
  7. Play Candy Land with a four-year old who cheats.
  8. Play Candy Land alone.
  9. Play Candy Land alone and still cheat.
  10. Get a fake ID that says you are 20, get denied alcohol.
  11. Get a fake ID that says you are 20, find out where they serve minors.
  12. Read the Wikipedia entry on Existentialism.
  13. Read the Wikipedia entry on Dadaism.
  14. Read the Wikipedia entry on Candy Land.
  15. Choose random Wikipedia entry: replace all nouns with John Goodman.
  16. State the case for a one-state solution to the Israel/Palestine conflict.
  17. State the case for a two-state solution to the Israel/Palestine conflict; both Jewish states.
  18. Give a homeless man money.
  19. Give a homeless man firecrackers.
  20. Cocktail party with your stuffed animals.
  21. Cocktail party alone.
  22. Drink heavily with the lights off while your 80s breakup playlist loops.
  23. Get your name legally changed.
  24. Donate blood.
  25. Donate sweat.
  26. Search your first name on Facebook: friend request every result.
  27. Search your last name on Facebook: unfriend every result.
  28. Go to the train museum.
  29. Go to the plane museum: pretend it is the train museum.
  30. Go to the boat museum: touch displays until you are asked to leave.
  31. Learn the Thriller dance.
  32. Play World of Warcraft.
  33. Play Dungeons & Dragons.
  34. Complain about Dungeons & Dragons without playing it.
  35. Watch the Lord of the Rings trilogy.
  36. Re-enact the Lord of the Rings trilogy.
  37. Start an herb garden.
  38. Start an organic herb garden, sell herbs, invest profit into Monsanto.
  39. Interrupt “show time” to announce the end of the world.
  40. Start a doll collection.
  41. Start a Dole collection.
  42. Write an essay explaining why all Taylor Swift songs are actually about tyranny.
  43. Talk to Greenpeace people on the street: explain your undying affection for the lumber industry.
  44. Eat paste.
  45. Name your boy Sue.
  46. Walk the line.
  47. Fall into a ring of fire.
  48. Shoot a man in Reno just to watch him die.
  49. Write a much better bondage fan fiction.
  50. Go on a normal date you’ll actually enjoy.

How To Complain Like A Man

You may read this title and think to yourself whilst stroking your beard thoughtfully “what man worthy of the noun would stoop to complaints?” And you may have a point, good sir (or bearded madam). Yet we live in a world where not all is what it should be. Work is hard, toes get stubbed and eventually one will verbalize their discontent with the immediate situation. Yet even in the negative spaces of our lives there is a right way and a wrong way. Today we explore the right way, at least as far as men are concerned (and perhaps some bearded ladies).

The first thing to keep in mind when complaining like a man is that a man goes beyond the immediate and strikes at the heart of the matter. A man does not complain “it is too loud in here”, he instead states “the music is at an unnecessary volume. Also you are speaking an awful lot for someone with so little to say.” Therefore “the herb garden is full of weeds” becomes “the boy isn’t doing his chores” and “we are out of milk” becomes “the boy isn’t doing his chores”. Here are some other examples.

“I’m cold” – Don’t touched the thermostat.
“My pants are too small” – Wife, you bought the wrong pants.
“There’s a funny smell in here” – Don’t let that damn cat inside.
“I’m too hot” – Don’t touched the thermostat.

The next important consideration when complaining with masculine vigor is that a true man takes action. Passivity is for the cat the boy keeps letting back inside. Therefore, for a complaint to truly become the complaint of a man it should ultimately become statements of intent or, if you are a man of authority, direct orders. For example, “those pants do make you look fat” could become “consider a different pair of pants” but a better option is “I’m eating your dinner for the next week”.

Finally, it is important not to make too big a deal of minor nuisances. A man who cannot tolerate minor annoyances is unfit for burning down a forest to make room for his new buffalo wrestling pit. Here are some every day scenarios you can apply to your life.

“I’m hungry” – The Man can shove it, I’m going hunting.
“I’m thirsty” – Boy, go dig an irrigation ditch.
“I almost tripped on the cat” – Wife, find a dog breeder on the World Wide Web. Something that eats cats.
“It’s too dark in here” – Boy, stop burning the forest, we’re building a new house instead.
“Too many hippies around here” – Hey, you guys ever see a dead cat?
“This dinner doesn’t taste good” – …
“This dinner seems to be made with expired meat and vegetables.” – …
“This dinner is clearly poisoned, there is a bottled labeled ‘poison’ inside my mashed potatoes.” – …
“There is a salesman at the door” – Wife, get my gun.
“There is a telemarketer on the telephone” – Wife, get my telegun.
“There are too many ads on this Internet web site” – Wife, get my
“My wife has stolen all of my guns” – Great dinner, Wife.
“I just stubbed my toe” – This wouldn’t have happened if we didn’t have a cat.
“I am ill” – I’m fine.
“I am injured” – It’s nothing.
“I am on fire” – Don’t touch the thermostat.
“I am literally bleeding to death” – I’m good.
“Those neighbor kids are too loud” Hey, you kids ever see a dead cat?
“Our barber shop quartet is missing a baritone” – Boy, go find your sister.
“That hurt my feelings” – Wife, invite him to dinner.

5 Important Things To Keep In Mind While Christmas Shopping

The “Holidays” are nearly upon us, and in the retail world have already been here for a couple of weeks. That means it is time to start considering what momentum you will contribute to the engine of consumerism to help keep the Socialists in check. And while I cannot tell you what to buy, for such knowledge lies locked away in your festive little heart, I can offer you some time-tested tips for getting the most out of your shopping experiences.

1) Dress For Success

As any stock photo will reveal, the best shoppers are models wearing clothes that perfectly accentuate their every feature. Most of us aren’t models but we have to do the best that we can, and that means buying great new outfits for ourselves so that we have the confidence and glamor needed to make the best shopping choices possible. After all, how can you possibly decide what incrementally better smart phone to buy for your mother when you are distracted by your shabby 2013 rags? PROTIP: cashiers will charge you more for your purchases if you aren’t well-dressed, since they rightly conclude that you are too stupid to know any better.

2) Put Yourself In Their Shoes

Buying the perfect gift takes more than just good intentions and a mind cleared of distractions, you need a little something philosophers like to call “empathy”. Google defines empathy as “the ability to understand and share the feelings of another”, and that sounds pretty correct. The easiest way to develop this “empathy” for others is to put yourself in their shoes. Walk around in them for a few hours. Try on their outfits. Sleep in their bed a few times. Get a haircut and colored contacts to look more like them. Show up at their place of employment in their clothes and do their job for a few hours. Call your friend’s parents on their phone and talk to them like you’ve known them your whole life. Get a credit card in their name. Whatever it takes to really, really understand them.

3) Remember Those Who Don’t Celebrate

As hard as it might be to believe, there are some people who don’t celebrate Christmas. Particularly at this time of year, they can feel isolated and alienated by all of the festivities, particularly if they are the only person among their friends or co-workers who doesn’t partake. Being a good friend means understanding that not everyone does things your way, and nothing says “I tolerate and respect your different beliefs” like giving your Muslim or Taoist friend a Christmas gift of their very own! And don’t be shy about wishing them a “Merry Christmas” every time you see them; the last thing you want to do is exclude them!

4) The Right Gift For The Right Relationship

With all the hussle and bustle of Christmas shopping, it can be very easy to second-guess how appropriate a particular gift is; five gold rings is all well and good for your true love, but what about Dale in Marketing? Should he get five gold rings too? Not necessarily. Remember that every gift is a way of telling someone how you really feel about them. For important relationships, like a fiancée or the judge weighing in on your insider trading case, nothing is too good. Two million dollars cash may seem extragavant, but what would it say about your heart to only give $1.75 million? For a dying grandfather who stopped giving you money for your birthday after you turned eight, on the other hand, maybe something a little more practical, like a travel sized shaving cream or a candy bar.

5) Remember The Reason For The Season

Nothing can stress a Christmas shopper out more than getting caught up in the frivolity and commercialization that so often comes with the holiday. Christmas is ultimately a celebration of the birth of Jesus, after all. Keep this in mind as dash from store to store, looking for the boots that will make your sister love you again. Remember the faith of Mary and Joseph as you attend party after party, drinking that delicious egg nog and doing things with whatshisface or whatsherface that you cannot fully recall but fills you with a sense of unease. Think about the chorus of angels that broke out as you fill the peace and quiet of your life with endlessly repeating holiday jingles and 24-hour Christmas Story marathons. Christmas is so important: get it right.Are you ready? She is!