A troll was, at one time, a nasty menace that sat under bridges waiting to eat little goats that may come along, or little children, depending on who's telling the story. They would goad the creatures they sought to munch upon with jibes and insults. In the modern vernacular, the troll has become the hidden menace lurking around blogs waiting for someone to write something they feel they can discredit, usually by insults and barbs rather than by reason and persuasion. They are an ugly creature which unfortunately infest many a blog and can turn a pleasant forum full of reasonable discussion into the cyber equivalent of a shouting match.
I have been writing about Ron Paul since 2008. Back then I didn't have my own website, but several different sites picked up my work. They didn't have much in the way of comment sections at the time, or not too many people used them, so any comments I saw were mostly emailed to me. Most people just wanted to express gratitude for reporting on Ron Paul in a way that didn't spin him as some crazy loon. Any people that did want to make derisive remarks would usually repost the story in a forum where they could do so along with their neo-con buddies. I can understand that. People of like minds, birds of a feather, and all that you know. Those posts would get ugly and the trolls in those forums were actually Ron Paul supporters who were often rhetorically attacked in a very vicious and vitriolic manner. As for me, I didn't really have to worry about trolls.
I did do an article on Best Buy, however, where I complained about their gift card policy. I became suddenly inundated with emails. About half of them were gracious and told of their problems with customer service at Best Buy, but the other half were very juvenile in nature in which my personal integrity and intelligence were brought into question. This prompted me to write a second article where I revealed the nature of the emails. I don't know if it's fair to call these people trolls because they used email rather than posting on blogs or forums, but the effect is basically the same. So I guess I do have a little experience with trolls.
I wondered who would be emailing me such insulting emails. I also wondered what they thought they'd accomplish. I was told by a couple of people that the emailers probably worked for Best Buy. I was told that there were people whose job it was to do such things. I really can't say if that's true. If it is, I imagine they were trying to intimidate me into silence with their rhetorical abuse, but it had the opposite effect. As I stated above, I wrote a second article because of the emails. I never looked any further into the matter, as I was not driven to do so, but the theory made sense to me. Perhaps they were loyal costumers, but I don't think it's likely. I don't know that a customer would really care whether I ever shopped at the store again or not, nor would I think one would take the time to email me in such an abusive manner.
Well, times have changed. I have my own website now and I welcome comments. I don't get many, but I let anyone that wants to have their say. I only delete comments that are obvious spam or advertisements and nothing more. Recently, I wrote an article on Ron Paul and actually got a few comments, to my delight. I even got a comment telling me why everyone hates Ron Paul and then one from the same person insulting me, also to my delight. It becomes apparent to me that I must be doing something right to get such a response from someone. I must be hitting a nerve somewhere. So I thought, "Who is this person that he would take the precious time from his busy day to make such a comment?"
Who are the trolls? Are they just kids with nothing better to do? Are they simply going along and reading things just so they can be contrary? Are they genuine? Do they really get so emotional about issues that they feel the necessity to write such nastiness? In the case of Ron Paul, are they supporters of another candidate? That I can understand. If they want to argue their case for another candidate, that's fine. It's when they get abusive and resort to name calling because someone disagrees I think their true colors show. Logical arguments for statism oft times crash like waves against the rock of the freedom position, and so those arguing from the collectivist point of view will have to resort to emotional tantrums to make their points.
To be fair, I've seen Ron Paul supporters also resort to name calling. I wish they wouldn't do that, there are better ways to persuade, but to each his own. But Ron Paul supporters wear their hearts on their sleeve. You know who they are. Most of them are just regular folk. Recently many of them are the young folk who don't want a crushing debt burden on their shoulders. Usually you know who the supporters of other specific candidates are. Newt, Rick and Mitt all have their own following and many of them are proud to support their candidates. There's nothing wrong with that. But who are these trolls who hide behind anonymous, guest, or names that are difficult to decipher? Who are they that just come out of nowhere, insult and abuse, and then disappear? What are they trying to accomplish?
Are they establishment agents? Are they spies for the corporate elite? Are they spooks of the alphabet agencies? Maybe they just want us to know that they're out there, watching. I know, that sounds like paranoid conspiracy theory crap, but I'm just asking the questions. I'm not afraid to open my mind to any possibility. I don't discredit any theory unless I know something for certain. I suppose some of trolls can be as described. Others might be like those talked about earlier, kids just making trouble or emotional people looking for an outlet. Why shouldn't it be a mix? Seems to me that's the most likely. I really don't know. I don't know how to find out. Even if I did, I don't know if I'd want to take the time to do so.
Whoever these trolls are, as long as they keep their activity to talking trash, it's no big deal. Whatever they're trying to accomplish, I don't think it's working, unless they're just blowing off steam. If they're trying to shut us up, that's not working. As you can see, it just succeeded in getting me to write another article. Thank you, troll, for making this op/ed piece possible.
As long as there is freedom of speech in this country, I will continue to offer my opinion as I see fit. As long as I have protections against government intrusion upon my freedom to express myself, I will continue to point out the flaws I see in establishment institutions. If those natural, individual rights are ever threatened by government agents, I will do my best to do the same from the proverbial underground. If the proponents of freedom and peace are ever rounded up and thrown in prison for their point of view, I will endeavor to remain free and keep speaking out against tyranny. After all, isn't that what a good American is supposed to do? Isn't liberty and individual freedom what this nation is supposed to be about?
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The wait is finally over. I am overjoyed to announce that, after 16 years, "The Legacy of the Tareks; book 2 of The Black Blade Trilogy," has finally been released as an ebook. Get yours today! For those of you who have not yet read "The Colors of Elberia; book 1 of The Black Blade trilogy" it is still available at smashwords. Here is a list of my works by Matthew Wayne at different web retailers for your convenience. "The Edge of Sanity" at smashwords, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, and Diesel. "The Ouijiers" at smashwords, Barnes and Noble, Kobo and Diesel. Here are links to my book "The Blessings of Freedom, Creating Prosperity in the 21st Century" serialized version: Chapter 1. Chapter 2 and chapters 3 and 4. I thank you for your support.