Our current communication system is essentially a trolls paradise. I discussed before here and here, how division is nurtured by the algorithms underlying social media and how likeocracy influences more traditional media cornering them into following suit to stay relevant.
When we recognize that the king is naked, we made the first and most important step to find a solution.
What is important here is that the definition of troll we use is overly restrictive and inclusive only of those people who purposely instigate hatred and resentment.
Trolls are in many ways like zombies.
They are like zombies because they are contagious. An effective divisive stance will split the audience in two and will naturally spark a fight.
The people taking part in the fight have been infected or “radicalised” on the subject, I would say.
These radicalised individuals will unknowingly and maybe unwillingly act exactly like Trolls, like if they were in a trance. They will sometime push the divisiveness of the argument to a next level that the original troll didn’t even imagine.
Trolls are also like zombies in the way there are two types in literature.
There are Fast Zombies who are active, evil, agile and will go out of their way to transform more people into zombies. These are equivalent to our current definition of Trolls.
The other type are the Slow Zombies, who act like they are in a trance, and are moved by hunger rather than purposeful evil intention, but nonetheless they will turn anyone into a zombie if they manage to get hold of them give a good bite. For them I will use the definition Trance Trolls. Trance Trolls are still Trolls, even tho they aren’t evil, they may not even know that they are Trolls and they may not want to be Trolls, but they are nonetheless, and they become such just by taking a side in a preposterously divisive argument and pursuing their hunger to win the argument.
In short, Trolls should go through the Duck Test :
If it walks like a duck and swims like a duck and quacks like a duck, we should probably call it a duck.
And now that we have a simple and practical definition of Troll, all that is left to do is following a simple Mantra that can be found on some particularly enlightened forums around the web: Please don’t feed the Trolls!