Some time when I’m taking a break from writing, instead of getting from the chair, walking around, giving my eyes some much needed rest, the news junkie in me can’t resist the urge to scour the net in search of my daily news fix. What’s going on in the country, the world? To find out, I turn to sites like CNN, MSNBC, USATODAY, FoxNews, The Grio, etc., etc. Now if only I could read the articles and leave it at that. No, I have to complicate my life by reading the comments. If I’m strapped for time, I’ll just read the headline and move on to the comment section.
Sadly, I’ve come to the realization that perhaps it is the trolls that fascinates me. The trolls that keeps me reading until my break is long over, my eyes gritty and heavy and about to fall out my head. To pat myself on the back for not embracing reality tv, only to embrace trolls, makes me feel a little hypocritical. Either way I’m being entertained in a perverse sort of way. Sad, but true.
Before the trolls, my fascination was with the so-called news pundits, armchair quarterbacks, and various other know-it-alls, that graced CNN, MSNBC, FoxNews, etc., with their infinite wisdom on the hot topic of the moment. I found their opinions, their bickering back and forth with the opposition fascinating. Watching them battle it out seemed to feed some hunger inside me. A hunger that made me wonder what made certain folk tick. Why some of them seemed to have such a skewed view of the world. Which essentially meant they just weren’t seeing things my way. They were crooked wall hangings that I burned to straighten out, to make right.
I thought those folks were bad. Then I got laid off. Before you ask what one thing has to do with the other, I’ll tell you. For one my income dropped drastically so I had to cut back on some things. After cutting and cutting, trying hard not to severe ties with the cable company, alas, it had to to be done. It was the most painful cut of all. I missed the cable news channels with a passion. The pain of withdrawal I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. They were bad, they were really bad, and I missed every moment of it. Then I turned to the Internet news sites and learned how bad bad could be. Learned that censored lip-dripping was tame, baby talk compared to the vicious, cruel, even maniacal key banging of knuckle-dragging trolls.
The site that really got me hooked on reading not just the article, but the comment section, I’ll keep redacted. As a student of journalism, the poor writing, and in some cases the MIA, who, what, when, where, and how left me plumb speechless. The Internet is the wild wild west of misspelled words, poor grammar, half-truths, and out and out lies, running rampant like cowboys on horseback firing away. Where sightings of sources or the word ‘allegedly’, are indeed rare. I’m not professing to be a grammar queen, but I am a pretty good speller and researcher. My never fully realized profession turned into a reality TV show causes me pain.
To ease the pain, I turned to reading the comments. I’m glad I took the time, since it wasn’t long before I ran into the trolls, along with the law dogs warning folk not to feed them. But I quickly learned that for me the comment section was nothing without the trolls. They made me forget about the poorly written article; some poor editor long extinct; some real student of journalism whose prose might never get to see the light of day. Like in the movie, Gremlins, the trolls are watered and fed after midnight. Behind their curtain of anonymity, they seek to wreak havoc to rival or surpass what could be dreamed up by some Hollywood director.
I wish I could begin to tell you why I have such a fascination with trolls. I must confess I don’t feed them all that much. Trolling is a spectator sport mostly. I devour the trolls usually mean and ridiculous rantings directed at those who dare have a differing opinion. Occasionally I step into the fray knowing darn well it’s a lost cause trying to change a troll with the meanness of Stripe, into anything near the sweetness of Gizmo.
So I say, “please feed the trolls.” Without which there would be just boring civil discourse and nothing to distract from the usually poorly written article.