10 Essential Troll Traits

10 Essential Troll Traits

For 400 years the troll was an imaginary creature until social media made it real. Oxford Dictionary describes ‘troll’ as an ugly creature in Norse and Swedish folklore, ‘depicted as either a giant or a dwarf’. Those of us who have run into one online will vouch for its being very ugly. Now comes the good news that the troll’s days are numbered. Google subsidiary Jigsaw will soon release Conversation AI — software that accurately recognises online abuse and harassment, and silences it.

Nobody will mourn the troll’s passing but as one of the chief monsters of our age it will be dissected and analysed for a long time. Here’s what I have learnt about it from a few disgusting encounters this year:

Lightning rod topics: You can write a critique of Pythagoras’ Theorem without ever running into a troll, but the moment you venture something about religion, politics, nationalism or cricket — in India — you become a lightning rod for them. Trolls respond to only very basic topics. 

Trends: Trolls watch what’s trending. They want bang for their hot air. An essay on the constitution of Greenland will not get you any traction online, and trolls won’t go after it either. Write something, anything, about Kashmir and they will sniff. If your essay starts trending, they will pounce upon it. 

Illiteracy: Trolls seldom read beyond the headline. For instance, I wrote this piece a few days ago. It was about governance, but trolls decided it was about religion because the headline had the words ‘nude gods’ in it. Few trolls took the trouble to read the article. 

Embryonic intellect: Having judged a book by its cover, trolls quickly proceed to pass judgment on it. Sample: “This is not a place to discuss or propagate religion. I am sure you will find better avenues to discuss such topics on FB or Twitter,” many told me. 

Pathetic writing skills: While most are content to growl at you, some need to demonstrate their vigour with longer barks. Sample: “Let us know which idiot have made this picture to show down Hindu’s ancient gods?? Should we also openly talk about other religions with their foolishness ideologies???

Shirkers and idlers: In my experience, trolls strike during the work day. They are very aggressive durin