Yesterday, I learned what “trolling” is. I can be pretty slow in picking up on cyber-terms. I actually had to ask what “pic” stood for the first time I saw it, even though the entire online conversation revolved around a picture! I also learned that I am guilty of trolling ALL THE TIME.

Here are excerpts of the Facebook conversation I had which led to my “aha!” moment. (Please note: I am real-life friends with “H,” and we enjoy a friendly, sarcastic banter. We also share a love for English grammar and a distaste for its misuse. I do not know “H's friend #2.”)

H: I'm enjoying the hide feature. Too many pointless debates lately and I'm losing my ability to be civil, especially in the face of rudeness. Since I can't seem to let closed minded ignorance or hypocrisy go I will just arrange it so I don't see it. I have wasted too much time on these debates. The sad part is that much of the problem is with friends of my friends, but I need to protect my sanity. It is no longer my mission to educate the world. If this increases my happiness my next step might be to hide the people who constantly murder English.

Friend #1: I've learned to troll the debates. I hid the English murderers long ago.

H: Uh, what does it mean to troll the debates?

Friend #1: To say disagreeable things to the idiots for entertainment, knowing they will respond with even more idiocy. (She provides a Wikipedia link which gives this definition: Troll: “In internet slang, a troll is a person who sows discord on the Internet by starting arguments or upsetting people, by posting inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community ((such as a forum, chat room, or blog)), either accidentally or with the deliberate intent of provoking readers into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion....”)

Me: So, poking at people with inflammatory remarks has a slang name? That's what I've been doing? Learn something new every day. Oh, and your stoopid n yer kids our ugly.

H: Your grammar is offensive. I just can't handle it.

H's Friend #2 (referencing me): That's mean. I hope it was a joke.

I won't share the rest of the conversation, but it went on for quite a while with mutual friends coming to my aid to assure H's friend #2 that I am indeed a rather nice person who just has a really sarcastic sense of humor. I thought my joke was painfully obvious, but it wasn't. And I realized my cyber-persona can come across as awfully mean sometimes. I don't troll just because of this sometimes-misunderstood sarcasm, though. I do have what I feel are valid reasons to persistently push some issues. I suppose that's another post.

I bring this up today, because a Bubblews writer with whom I was having what I thought was a humorous conversation, about a humorous post, asked me if I was trolling. I was taken aback. I read over what I had said and finally determined that I had once again mistaken the tone of the other person and pushed the issue a little too far. I had written the post with a purposely inflammatory title and topic, and clearly stated that the purpose was to get some views and comments. I wanted to continue the conversation in my comments, as I was enjoying the debate. But something about my tone was offensive and hurtful. I immediately apologized. It's easy to forget that the written word doesn't always take into account tones and facial expressions that would accompany a real-life conversation. I'm sorry for being a troll!....This time.

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons,