And then he told me "Roberto's a known troll" and I was like "really?"
he seems like a nice guy!
—Not saying who said it
So, that happened a while ago in a dinner. And I am that troll. I must confess it,
so here it is. I have a long, long, long history of trolling. Perhaps I could
rationalize it into just being argumentative, or just enjoying a good argument, but
no, really, I derive pleasure from seeing people react to what I say.
That could maybe be in some way constructive, I could just do it to make people
see things from a different angle, and in my good moments I do that. But in others
I just find someone I dislike, or someone who says something that rubs me the
wrong way, and I ... well, it's not pretty.
What I usually do is up the ante. I escalate. I say outrageous things. Usually just
slightly more outrageous than what the other guy says, so I can still rationalize it
as "he started it", or "he deserves it" but honestly, deep inside, I know it's not
true. I know I am being nasty because I like it. And that sucks. It sucks that I
have this mean streak in me, and I can't get rid of it. It sucks that I have fun insulting the other poor bastard.
I could even say that most of the people I troll are trolls themselves. But that's
not really an excuse. If they deserved contempt for their trolling, then I am just
as deserving for mine. I am sure they, also, have their reasons and those reasons
sound perfectly rational to themselves.
I could say that I often troll those who spread poisonous speech. That I troll those
who are spreading misinformation and evil ideas. And yes, that is true, but again,
I could reply without trolling. I could reply rationally, and just point out where
they are saying nonsense, where they are spreading stupidity, and avoid the flair,
avoid the gratuitous insult.
I could say that I troll those who bother me personally out of their own free will.
So yes, telling a Jehovah's Witness that I will be at the door as soon as I wash my
hands of the blood sacrifice I make to Satan is funny, but why is it any better than
just telling them I am not interested.
Oh, sure, I could say that telling someone who insulted me "opinions are like assholes,
and so are you" is somewhat clever, but I could just say "you are wrong, rude, and
undeserving of my attention".
I sure could say that trolling someone who is rude, insulting, obnoxious and disruptive
may teach him (it's always a he, isn't he?) a lesson, but it's just not true. They just
see those responses as challenges.
I could say that feeding the other troll is just harmless fun, but it's not true because
I know it hurts people, and creates an obnoxious environment. I could say that trolling
those who deserve to be trolled is fair. But it's not true because I am
So, if I have trolled you, accept this post as an apology. Not a "sorry if I offended you"
apology, but a straight apology. I am sorry I trolled you. I will try to stop.
I will not stop saying and writing what I think, and I will not abstain from replying to
other people's opinions, but I will do a honest try to do it in a not-trolling manner,
of offering my opinion as it is, instead of as a performace to make the other one feel
humiliated or hurt or undeserving.
Because, and here is my only piece of excuse: I hate bullies. I was sent to school two
years too early. So that you have an idea how that can affect someone, I am of average height,
but until I was 13 I was convinced I was very short. I managed to become a decent
swimmer, but until I was 12 or so, I was convinced I sucked at all sports and games. I
was inceasingly bullied since I first ever met my "peers" until I was able to kick
the crap out of them. I became a tough kid. I could take a beating like you can't
imagine, because I was too small to hit back, and the only way not to be a total
loser was to keep getting up and going to be beaten again, while making sarcastic comments.
And it turned out that those sarcastic comments worked. I got my ass kicked, but the next day
that kid remembered how I was getting back on my feet and joking about his mother.
And that, of course, lead to further bullying. When I was about 12, I was so extreme,
I scared everyone so much, they stopped. I was scary. I talked like a freaking
psycho. I probably was close to being one.
And the lesson I learned was that if you make fun of people, they got hurt enough to want
to avoid it later. So, I was, in fact, a bully myself. And thus, I became that which I
hated. I have had better times and worst times, I have been more in control and not so much.
And it has taken me a long time to figure this out. I don't like what I became. So I will stop.
And I am sorry.
Just gentle ribbing and self-deprecation from now on. Promise.