If you’ve ever read the comments on YouTube, you will notice that there are at least three types of commenters. The first type of commenters are known as “obsessive fanboys,” who always praise the work given, no matter how bad it is. The second type of commenters are known as “critics,” who give out well-reasoned opinions that can be in the form of either positive or negative comments. The last type is what’s known within the Internet community as “trolls.”
The definition of trolls, according to Merriam-Webster, is “a person who tries to cause problems on an Internet message board by posting messages that cause other people to argue, become angry, etc.” And boy, does that ever get people’s attention. Ever since YouTube changed their commenting policy, almost every single video has a troll as one of the featured comments. Now, instead of comments appearing most recent, the most popular and liked comments appear first. This is because their comments or messages are so infuriating, it’s very difficult not to respond to them.
But do you know what really makes me angry about trolls? It’s not simply the comments they make. When I was in the audience of the most recent American Physical Society Conference, I listened to one of the speakers, Laurence Gould from the University of Hartford, who is a climate change skeptic. He used flawed citations and refused to acknowledge basic physics and chemistry that is used to show climate change’s credibility. After his presentation, he was essentially ripped to shreds by most of the scientists there, including myself. But if this was on the Internet, it wouldn’t be considered trolling because he not only spent most of his academic career on this topic, but he generally believes everything that he said.
This is different from actual trolls where whenever someone tries to argue against them, the troll will make a threat on that person in the form of death threats, without actually defending themselves. If someone is brave enough to actually egg them on, that troll will respond “I don’t feel like it,” or “You aren’t worth my time,” which is a clear-cut sign this troll is a person who is vying for attention, by expecting people to get infuriated with their undefended comments.
This is the part about trolling that is unacceptable, because these people most likely have a pattern of excessive attention-seeking emotions. Although it is understandable that some people would want to seek attention, this is the wrong way to do it. Do something productive with your life. Go to college. Do charity work. Participate in a protest involving something in which you truly believe. Don’t be that person who goes on every comment page or message board and write comments that you can’t stand behind.