We don’t get a lot of trolls on this blog. When people try, I typically respond with some mixture of directness and firmness, and the trolls either give up or perhaps they recognize that I am answering questions in sincerity, which does not serve their trollish purposes.
But I’m pretty sure that my feeling is shared by many others, which is that trolls are disturbing, not just for their direct effects (they waste my time, they threaten to degrade the blog’s community) but also in themselves. As Dr. Anil Potti might put it, they’re pooping in my sandbox.
I thought of this yesterday (well, Ok, actually a few months ago) when encountering a sort of troll in real life.
I was going down the street and a clueless pedestrian walked right in front of me in the middle of the block. He wasn’t looking at all. This happens often enough, it’s no big deal, I certainly wasn’t angry or upset or even annoyed at this point, I just slowed down to let him pass. As he did so, he turns around, looks directly at me, and says, with disgust, “You’re going the wrong way. You idiot.”
I did a double take because I was actually not going the wrong way! Amsterdam Avenue in that area is a one-way street and I was going north, just like all the other traffic. So I said to him something like: “Hey, no, I’m going the right way. Look at all the cars!” He just ignored me and trudged away down the sidewalk. For some reason this really bothered me so I went back and pestered him: “Hey, you said I was going the wrong way down the street but I was going the right way!” He turned around and kinda snarled at me. It was weird, I’d thought he’d made an honest mistake and was going to reply with a sheepish “Sorry, guy,” but not at all. I suddenly thought of all the armed and crazy people in this country and decided to withdraw. But the whole episode bothered me, more than it should’ve, somehow. I’m still not quite sure why. Maybe it was the way he was so angry at me in a direct way. It seemed so personal. But of course it wasn’t personal: this guy didn’t know me, indeed he didn’t really seem to be listening to anything I was saying. So I can’t really figure out why I was so bothered, especially given that aggressive pedestrians are everywhere in this city. Maybe it was his Wegman-like refusal to admit an error?