1. As a troll, does my constant abuse make me look good?
No. You come across as a frustrated loser sitting in some dimly lit, damp, dark hole hacking away at your keyboard anonymously because no one listens to you in life and you feel you don’t matter and so by pouring vile abuse online you’re trying to compensate for that hollow feeling. It makes you look bad.
2. What if I have genuine grievances and criticisms to point out? Isn’t that the whole idea of this over-connected and overly-communicative medium?
Yes. That is a valid point. For one, if you are not anonymous then you will be taken more seriously and your “feedback” has a higher chance of being read. If you make your point with humour or even vanilla facts that are backed up with sources, the chance your target will read your “feedback” is even higher. If you only abuse and make nonsensical Class 4-type school kid arguments, your target has in all likelihood stopped reading your comments or tweets (unless you take on a new name each time, which takes a lot of time and energy). Your effort is totally wasted. No one is interested in reading constant abuse. And no, it’s not making you feel any better. Trust me.
3. Does it work? Will regular troll abuse make my target fear me and respect me more?
Well, that depends on your target. Respect – no! Out of the question. Fear – possible, depends onyour target’s personality type. Some people do back off and change their online behaviour because of the backlash they face when many trolls rain abuse together. So yes, it is sometimes effective andcould intimidate some people. Other personality types may even enjoy the abuse and when bored just get into scraps with their trolls to kill time, which is also not nice for either party. It’s like when you were bored as a kid and plucked each limb off an ant or a mosquito. Not good for insect or child. What? You didn’t? Ok fine.
4. Will I get over my feeling of irrelevance and inadequacy by heaping vile abuse online on people who have a point of view different from mine?
No! You will feel worse over time and your self-esteem will sink to even lower depths than it already has. This is because over time you will not get any reactions (or only really dismissive ones) and since you have embarked on the journey down the road of abuse you will in all likelihood turn it up a notch each time hoping for a response, but the constant ignore (or dismissive comment) will make you feel more irrelevant and inadequate and in your online anonymous avatar you will become a raving lunatic. While all of us have some bad, some good and some lunacy in us – your lunacy factor would have become hideous and larger and will overshadow your good side. Not only will others not like you, you will not like you.
5. Does abuse make my leader or the political point I am making, look good?
Nope! On the contrary, it puts off fence-sitters who might have come around to your point of view and only gets those people excited who are already on your team (and are trolls so have the same feelings of inadequacy as you). So the objective of getting more people (sensible people) on your team isn’t accomplished.
6. Am I a bad person?
Well, good and bad is relative. Life in India is hard. From the time the electricity goes in the morning, to you realising the water supply is cut off, todealing with the policeman trying extract money from you or you not getting the clearance/license/document because of corrupt practices or you getting ripped off everyday by whoever is in a position to rip you off – the whole day is a battle. So pent-up anger, frustration and a feeling of being disempowered is natural. The horrible weather doesn’t help either. Some people deal with it by beating their wife/girlfriend/husband/boyfriend/kids, some play a sport, some climb a mountain, some do yoga and meditation exercises, some watch Arnab’s Newshour, some do Vipassana. Still others feel empowered by bullying or beating strangersand some evenby rubbing themselves against ladies in crowded buses and trains – all this to feel powerful. You’re merely abusing online, it’s not like you’re a wife-beater or anything. That’s not so bad when you look at the bigger picture. So no, you’re not really a bad person. But before you start looking for that halo on your head, consider this. If online anonymity makes you say and do things that you will not ordinarily do when you can be identified, then chances are the anonymity of being a part of a mob will make you act in ways contrary to your identifiable self. Copping a feel when a woman is being molested or stripped in a public place or joining a mob which is beating/killing/looting are things you might veer towards. Sure, you can’t even imagine yourself doing such an awful act but then I don’t think an earlier more innocent version of you would have ever thought you’d call someone’s mother/daughter/girlfriend a whore who should be raped and killed or send threats and other lame but crude abuse. But if you have crossed that line, chances of you crossing another one further up because anonymity “liberates you” in some twisted way, are moderate to high. So maybe you aren’t a bad person yet- but chances are if life serves you the opportunity you will become one. The cancer exists in you which will bloom in favourable conditions.
7. But it makes me feel good for a bit. I feel I’ve got a load off my chest. Is that worth it?
No. It won’t last. The feeling of inadequacy will be back and you will need to ramp up the insults to make it go away and you’ll spiral into a vicious circle of low self-esteem and abuse. Do something constructive, start a blog where you put your point in a rational and interesting way, climb a mountain, run a marathon, play a sport – football is a good choice – it’s aggressive, physical, exhausting and awesome fun – but if you’re going to do a Suarez and bite someone then it may not be working for you.