As we blow up our inconsequential disagreements into major ego clashes on the social media, we’ve also created theatrical digital warriors who fight on our behalf on these virtual battlefields.
I find the word ‘Troll’ quite interesting. I can almost conjure the image of a pixyish, mean-looking, green-headed, devil with horns ready to burn his opponent to cinders with a staff. Blame it on JRR Tolkein or JK Rowling, but our modern day digital Quidditch gives us every day Prufrocks the opportunity to turn into fiery dragons and fantastical beasts, waging proxy wars on cyber zones.
It’s a digital Game of Thrones being played out every day. Bored with his life, or in a moment of weakness, one man gets possessed, turns into a prankster and posts a mean tweet. That done, our green-headed troll army comes out in a show of strength, reducing the tweeter to a small puddle on the floor, until he sobers up, apologises and deletes the offensive message. The trolls then retire to their cave, thirsting for their next adventure. Obviously kings and kingmakers in the shadow, run the whole carnival with a lot of grease to keep the wheels whirring.
It begins with an innocuous tell-tale trigger, a gaffe or a cruel prank posted by someone. The trained eyes of trolls sniff out the epicentre, sharpen their claws and share and forward and propagate until the tweet goes viral and the fight gets brutal.
It has now become a legit lifestyle or rather career for so many people who live off the money they make trolling and shaming some poor, unfortunate bloke who’s been foolish enough to take the bait and gone on to put his foot into his mouth.
Imagine a cave full of jobless trolls, feverishly scanning the digital space to get gainfully employed into a week of free-for-all abuse orgy, punching, kicking and giving black eyes to each other until the other guy blinks. That’s the routine and quite likely after the army of trolls, we might have hobbits, minotaurs, house elves and goblins joining the fray.
I think we can blame this safely on our fascination for PUBGs [PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds] and the entire gaming mania. Camouflaged behind the gaming console and the controls, allows one adequate anonymity to unfurl the worst from within and launch into vicious virtual sparring. Words are the deadliest weapons of all, that sting and bruise, maim and hurt far worse than mortal wounds. If you have watched you may have discovered the arc of one war.
It begins with an innocuous tell-tale trigger, a gaffe or a cruel prank posted by someone. The trained eyes of trolls sniff out the epicentre, sharpen their claws and share and forward and propagate until the tweet goes viral and the fight gets brutal. After appropriate fisticuffs and black eye, either the trolls or the tweeter, decide to end the fight and focus on other things and all falls silent until the next battle.
I don’t think we ever evolved from being those noisy brats in primary school, thirsting for punches, not wanting to dilute the fun for a minute.
The social media is our digital silver screen that plays out a new melodrama each day not lacking in memorable dialogues, histrionics, abuses, action and heartbreaks. After all entertainment is a fundamental right. So troll and get trolled, no harm in unleashing that little devil within as long as you do not become a Dr Faustus falling prey to the Devil.