No Post Day: Confessions From An Incidental Internet Troll


Life — photo by Me

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“450”; eXtério
Using a cat as a weapon is FUNknee… Québécois Punk. YAY!
Let me know if the YouTube isn’t available.


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Mostly this post is about getting my fathers photo off the top of my blog. But it’s also about Other stuff as well…

When I first started out online back in 1992 I was playing strategy games on a BBS in Ottawa. The online persona I developed for myself (The Unholy) was aggressive and filled with a certain amount of pure hatred and a smidgen of red-eyed Rage. Basically I was one of the first Trolls.

I thought, at the time, I was Acting out a Role so I was sending angry notes “in character”. Of course it stopped being fun for the Others and after a couple of months the group fell apart and reformed minus The Unholy. When I got back into Chat Rooms in 1996, through my brothers connection, I lasted about three sessions. It was a hockey forum and I was just attacking people left, right and centre.

I really believed Everything anyone wrote was part of a Game, and I was channelling my original Character… I’m not entirely sure, but I think this was the first place I used a Johnny Name online. So it was like I was still a character, I was Johnny Something, not Me… which removed me from Reality by a degree and made everything I was ranting about make sense.

So apparently there was an email around by the forum Users to ignore me so I’d go away… and I did. I knew at the time I had gone Wah-A-WAY overboard but it didn’t take because even in 2006, when I first started on WP I was taking offence from posts written by strangers… this time, though, it was like their Dumbassness was something I had to Fix. I think, again, there was some degree of separation given to me by a User Name, in this case “[redacted]”.

Probably my longest Incidental Trolling came in 2006(?) on a blog called East Village Idiot… he had written something funny about being harassed by some NY Ranger fans after a Sabre game. After my comment was attacked I had a “discussion” going with six Sabre fans for three days.

The EVI thing was mostly funny, and I may not have been doing it (entirely) maliciously, but it did fit on the spectrum of Trolling. I was definitely taking a lot of enjoyment in poking them with a digital stick.

Anyway… before this turns into a Post, my question for anyone willing to answer is (and your mother called to let me know she was disappointed you didn’t answer the last time… she loves you, you know, so stop hurting your mom and answer):

Have you ever (in the History of your Existence) deliberately sparked a fight on another blog or in Real Life? Discuss.

If you really love your mother you’ll answer this for Extra Credit: After taking part in a “discussion” you later realized had been started by a Troll or through Flamebait, could you trust that blog again?

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…since november fourteenth, 2006.

“You burn things when there’s no going back. How much of
yourself have you had to burn away to be
the person you are today? Because baby, my body
is ash and my mind is still smoking.”

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About Gabriel...

...diagnosed with manic depression in 1989, for the next 14-years I lived without treatment or a recovery plan. I've been homeless, one time I graduated college, I've won awards for reporting on Internet privacy issues, and a weekly humour column. In 2002 I finally hit bottom and found help. I have an 8-year old son, and a 4-year old son... I’m usually about six feet tall, and I'm pretty sure I screwed up my book deal. I mostly blog at saltedlithium.com....
This entry was posted in crazy people with no pants, Health, Lithium, Manic Depression, No Post Day, Salted Truths. Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to No Post Day: Confessions From An Incidental Internet Troll

  1. exactscience says:

    This happens a lot in real life for me but only with certain people. Jon joked that it is like fight club for “discussions” (discss club?) it all comes out, we spar verbally over things that we don’t really care about. It is fun and it channels that argumentative side of me against someone as argumentative as me ( strangely two of the discussion partners are called Jonny – read into that what you want).

    I also have a habit of trying to calm folk down by rationalising the thing that angered them. In fairness is almost a catchphrase of mine. I have also used this to get people angry and spark a fight (most often with Discuss Club friends)

    I would stop participating in discussion on the blog if the comments were flamebait. If the post itself was flamebait then I would remove it from my rss reader and if it keeps up then I would drop it.

  2. thordora says:

    I’m pretty sure I have on this parenting site I once frequented until the sheer and utter stupidity drove me insane. (Extreme right wing parents freak me out, especially when they homeschool their kids and think that everything has an evil ulterior motive)

    I’d poke the monkey’s so they’d fling poo every so often, but since I hate confrontation, I’d stop because I’d get uncomfortable.

  3. Gabriel... says:

    Dude… first rule of Discuss Club: you do Not write about Discuss Club.

    There are sites where everyone involved Know we’re in it to be insulting and / or obnoxious. I’ve had friends post messages on both Salted and [other] which were meant to be insulting (I used to call it “Hard Posting”), but funny within the context of our relationship. I’ve actually had Blogger Friends leap to my defence…

    But then there are sites, and posts, like this one swordattheready dot wordpress.com/2008/01/13/ron-paul-lunatic-mob-zombies-threaten-yet-again, where the point is to attract people who don’t seem to know better and then attack them… (if you scroll down you’ll find my reasonable response surrounded by complete insanity).

    Actually, there is another form of Trolling which I really Really despise and I never encountered before starting Salted and surfing through the Recovery Blog part of the blog pool.

    At its base Trolling is about sparking emotional responses, then manipulate those emotions for as long as possible with insincerity and great amounts of cynicism for the benefit of the Troll… so what would happen if someone who had grown a large-ish following writing about tragedy and suicidal thoughts, suddenly dropped a post saying something like “I can’t pay my rent this month, I’ll be homeless soon, oh woe is me. By the way, I hope you noticed my new PayPal button in the sidebar.”?

    It’s interesting to watch, and I’ve seen bloggers do it and come away with a few thousand bucks.

  4. Kitty says:

    Gabriel, I’ve been looking all over this site for an email address to contact you. Could you email me at cinemagypsy at g mail dot com?

  5. Gabriel... says:

    Hello Kitty (funny)… “[redacted]” (one word) yahoo dot CA, not Com.

    The address is in a jpeg on the About page, you’re definitely not the first person to miss it. I think I just figured out a way to put it in the sidebar (I’m out of text widgets) or maybe on the next update I’ll put the address in the blog header… mmm, I love design issues.

  6. Kitty says:

    Wow, it was right in front of me and I didn’t see it. LOL.

  7. dame says:

    me? fight? oh no, never. never, ever, never.

    okay, okay … well maybe that one time that i called a chick a cocksucking clap-happy jezabel. but HEY! she started IT!

  8. bine says:

    i usually avoid a fight if i can, but can get quite violent when attacked. however, i often give myself an hour to think before i react, and if i get the impression someone is trying to pick a fight most of the times i decide it’s just not worth it.

    i’ve never been in a discussion that i later realised was started by a troll, but strange that you bring my mother into it. looking back i get the feeling that most of the discussions my parents had when i was a kid (i thought of them as quarrels then) were really my father trolling my mother. i guess it was that kind of discussion scott means, for the argument’s sake, without really caring about it. i think that’s what made me resent that kind of argument so much.

  9. Gabriel... says:

    Something I’ve learned the hard way is sometimes it’s okay just to never go back to the blog causing you the headaches.

    The thing is, I know I have been a small-t Troll in the past and I know I still come close to doing it occasionally… but it’s not on purpose (anymore), it’s because I have a tendency to grab onto a relatively small point then using it to make a connection to something else and writing a response as though my idea was the point of the post. But what I’m really doing is working the point out in my head and writing to an empty chair… if that makes sense. Basically I’m writing to myself… which, I think, is what most Trolls do, only with a whole lot of anger and narcissism and a complete lack of empathy.

    I wasn’t thinking about the mother-father dynamic when I wrote the post, Bine, but it’s a great point. The group I grew up in were all Trolls. They would use the most banal and inane reasons to annihilate each other… there was a two day slug fest debate on whether a French Fry was fried or boiled. It’s a type of arguing I’ve used in the past when I had no defence… grab onto a word, or a perception and change the argument in a way where I become the Victim despite being in the wrong, and you become the Shamed and Confused Abuser… basically, you tell me I haven’t done any housework in months but by the end of the argument you’re apologizing for not being more supportive of my online gaming.

    In-house Trolling, like the Online stuff, is simply abuse…

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