Right now, you are on the internet, reading a blog. This gives me sufficient reason to believe that you know a bit about the World Wide Web. So I am going to assume that you have probably heard about online trolling, even if that lone word is all you have seen of it.
You know, it is interesting, there is a vast body of material that most people throw under the label of “trolling”, but given the general definition I have gleaned from some self-described trolls, most of it does not really apply at all. For example, playing a prank, ribbing someone, and all other varieties of tomfoolery often receive the trolling label, but are not bona fide trolling. In fact, all of these are usually just lighthearted fun and games, and are things most healthy people take part in.
You can even find self-proclaimed trolls who use harsh pranks or deceptive means to enlighten people to new ways of thinking about subjects that normally are too taboo or too hotly debated to deal with in everyday discussion. While I do not really condone this sort of tactic, as head games feel dishonest and I prefer to be direct and up front, this again is not necessarily harmful or mean-spirited. In many cases, even the more brutal trolls seem to consider themselves some sort of vicious, unforgiving Schoolmaster sent to educate the poorly informed and misguided. Naturally, this can easily lead to some swelled ego and other such problems, but the desire to uplift others, in however rough and unkind a manner, is not in itself a bad thing.
What trolling is, in its purest form, is simply the introduction of chaos and suffering into a situation. It does not matter if the situation was already chaotic and full of suffering. A true troll will find his amusement in this chaos and the negative reactions of others. According to the nigh-omniscient Wikipedia, trolls of the most uncouth sort have gone so far as to send families images of the mutilated corpses of their relatives, children even, who recently died in car wrecks. Others have conducted postmortem smear campaigns against those who have committed suicide, in full view of their grieving friends. Granted, not all trolls are that vicious, and many simply stalk the internet looking only for attention of any kind, but the fact that there are people so depraved as to do the above is a sign of the times.
It is a sign that people are thoroughly bored and unsatisfied with their lives. To the point where they will deliberately inflict cruelty upon their fellow human beings just for the fun of it, or worse, just because. There has to be something deeply lacking in your existence when you look at a sentient being, made in the image and likeness of God Almighty, and say “You seem like you would be fun to make suffer.” Note how that phrase sounds like a poorly written villain from a child’s cartoon? That is because both things are equally feeble minded and weak. What loneliness brings a person to find comfort in the spite and rage of others? What insecurity allows a person to find pleasure and self-worth in their ability to cause emotional harm to others? What desperate need for control and stability propels a man to incite disorder and confusion, so that at least he pulls the strings of that turmoil, even if his strings are being pulled in every other area of his life?
The answer is simple: nothing good.
Over the years I have gradually come to believe that trolling is a major warning sign of how far our culture has fallen. It is the symptom of the rot of the age. Only when Man forgets that he and all his brothers and sisters are the Children of God, can he truly be cruel for the sake of that cruelty. Only when he loses sight of all Purpose and Meaning because those things have been either ripped from him by force, or taken by sleight of hand and replaced with shallow caricatures of Freedom and Love, can he be so truly bored and unsatisfied that his cruelty can become a welcome distraction from his emptiness.
An absolutely perfect example of this decay is illustrated by the character Discord from My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. Now, you may be asking, why would a grown-ass man know anything about a cartoon for six-year-old girls? Because there is this thing called the Brony Phenomenon, and I was curious as to why so many men my age counted themselves as fans of the program. While the show has many excellent and wonderful qualities as a Tame Aslan (if you do not understand my reference, read more C.S. Lewis), and if I had young daughters they would be watching it for certain, it was, in the end, just a show for young girls, and it could not hold my interest. But, for the record, FLUTTERSHY IS BEST PONY. Anyone who says otherwise receives a fierce jackboot to the neck. Props to John C. Wright for that violent phraseology.
One of the more notable episodes I viewed was the Season 2 pilot. Well, I guess it’s not a pilot if the show got off the ground already, but it was not a finale either. Hmmm…enough digressing. On with the thrust of the matter! Discord makes his appearance, turns out to be voiced by the guy who plays Q in Star Trek: the Next Generation (in some ways, they’re practically the same role), and sets to some relatively harmless but chaotic hijinks until he finds that not everyone wants to play along.
True to troll-form, he ups the stakes because people (or in this case, ponies) had finished with his attention-whoring. He, in full knowledge of what he is doing, and laughing every minute of it, deceives, mind-warps, and generally corrupts the main characters. It works on everyone except Fluttershy, because she is supposed to represent kindness, love, innocence, you know, all those tender things. I will get to why in a minute. He has to practically shatter her mind and rebuild it to his specifications in order to have his way. He breaks her with extreme prejudice.
Why? Because Fluttershy is the solution to Man’s Modern Decay. The only way we are going to heal the wounds caused by our devouring boredom and our inhumanity to ourselves is through authentic love and kindness. When Discord gets all up in her grill, she simply responds with meekness, respect (despite the fact that he’s an oddly shaped dragon-monster-thing hell-bent on throwing the world out of whack), and compassion, even in the face of his mutterings that her gentleness will one day allow her to be hurt deeply by others. This is Christ-like, honest-to-goodness LOVE we are seeing here. And Discord cannot stand it.
See, Discord is a wonderful way to teach kids about Satan. He is proud. He is arrogant. He is cruel.
And he is absolutely lonely.
Note well how this also sounds like the average serious troll. Have you ever noticed how trolls, or any truly hurting people, tend to lash out at those who try and help them? They cannot withstand the goodness, for the healing it brings puts them in a place where they feel they have less power. The Devil removed himself from God in Pride and in a desire to control. He feared being beholden to another. Accepting kindness leaves you at the mercy of the one giving it to you. Love is practically synonymous with vulnerability. The Devil, Discord, and trolls hate the weakness that comes with Love, the lack of control, the lack of power it entails.
Therein lies the rub. In order to end the rot of the Modern Age, and in so doing the symptom of trolling, we must end two things, our boredom and our objectification of ourselves. We must remind Man that he is Man again. We must remind him that he is made in the image and likeness of God, the Creator of the Universe. We must get him to think and feel and leap with joy and cry out in despair and all those other beautiful things that Man was made to do by his Creator. We must regain our Humanity. No one can truly see another as human and view them as private pawns for self-amusement.
The beautiful thing is that the boredom will fade after that. Man is capable of choosing to follow his Purpose, is capable of finding Meaning, by the very nature of being Man in the truest sense of the word. The lifeless Turing machines so many see themselves as these days, however, are not. They might have functions, oh yes, and some of those functions might be pleasurable, but when life is just lived because it is there, because we can, it becomes dull. With no end game, with no real soul, we lapse into the deathly boredom we have now. No matter what we invent, our souls will cry out for still more, and eventually we will all come to the realization that running in a hamster wheel is pointless.
The even-more-beautiful thing about this situation is that we can accomplish both by unselfishly loving. It is truly that simple.
Now get out there and save the world.