The Reasoning Behind Trolling

It’s funny how there are occasional studies of why internet trolls troll. Shouldn’t we be dedicating research to more valuable things? We know this animal the internet troll, and understand perfectly well why they kvetch and complain.

But these stories certainly amuse us, and the latest report comes from the L.A. Times. In fact, there’s even a book on trolling, written by a college lecturer called This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things.

The author, Whitney Phillips, told the Times, “What makes [trolls] important culturally is not the ways in which they’re aberrant but the points of overlap between trolling and behaviors in day to day life…Trolls’ strategies for getting attention are similar to the strategies employed by sensationalist media outlets that deliberately try to get people to click on stories.”

Phillips’s studies revealed that trolls often target women, people of color, and the gay community, but funny enough, in this interview she doesn’t mention the geek trolls who complain about movies, comics, bands, and everything else they hate about popular culture.

And when the anti-trolling law in Australia was brought up, Phillips said, “American trolls wrap themselves in the American flag like nobody I’ve seen. There’s a sense that if we can, we should. Trolls are taking [a] much-lauded American ideal and turning it into this grotesque satire of itself.”