Just Who’s the Troll?

One Flew East

When I’ve tried to deal directly with internet trolls, I’ve had little luck. What I mean is, their minds were made up about me before they trolled whatever I might have written. No matter how politely I’ve tried to engage them, rarely do I get anything in response but vitriol.

Occasionally, I’ve been placed on the other side, accused of being a troll for having made a comment—once for explaining where “gaslighting” comes from (someone had used the word without knowledge, it was clear, of the Charles Boyer and Ingrid Bergman movie). Yeah, I was being pedantic and a bit snarky, but that’s different from being a troll. But the other person took the opportunity to make the accusation and cut me off.

As a professor, I’ve long been sensitive to the impact of trolls on academics who get involved in social media. Steven Salaita lost a tenured position at…

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