do you like to troll?

trolling

In Internet slang, a troll (/ˈtroʊl/, /ˈtrɒl/) is a person who sows discord on the Internet by starting arguments or upsetting people, by posting inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community (such as a forum, chat room, or blog), either accidentally or with the deliberate intent of provoking readers into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion.  Wikipedia

Oddly enough, in the last couple of days two of the people I follow quite closely have suggested that they consider some of their own comments to be trolling. I checked out the posts they were specifically referring to and couldn’t see any difference between the kind of comments they were leaving and the kind of comments I frequently leave, mainly on Christian posts.

My understanding of trolling is deliberately starting arguments you don’t care about, just for the sake of getting a reaction and winding people up. But surely if you are trying to convince the author, or any readers, of a post that their point of view is somehow flawed, a negative reaction that any comments generate does not somehow make the whole exercise trolling. Trolls, on the other hand, tend to just shout random and nasty stuff then disappear, without trying to explain their point of view (because it doesn’t really matter to them).

So, if you happen to stumble across posts with harmful, stupid and illogical content and you feel the need to comment, don’t dismiss your urges to engage in discussion as flippant trolling. Remember you are doing a valuable service to your fellow human beings by encouraging people to analyse and defend their point of view. It’s only by exploring why we hold views on specific areas that we can learn how to distinguish our irrational indoctrinated attitudes (which, granted, may have logic behind them on further analysis) from rational opinions which are formed based on evidence and logic.

Go forth, good people, and chat the good chat!

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