Wednesday, January 12, 2011

From trolling to twolling: How dicks fed the dick for the dicks

Something very interesting happened this week in the world of "teh Interweb hyper-roadway". A deviation, a variant of sorts went global. Where there was once trolling on Usenet, there is now twolling on Twitter. The platform has changed, making the phenomenon and dare I say, art form, fzar more permissive than it could ever hope to be in the murky and decidedly niche world of Usenet.

Let's begin by defining some terms for a second. A "troll" online, and "to troll", has absolutely nothing to do with ugly creatures that live under bridges. It refers to a form of fishing where you cast a line into the water baited with lure, a spinner perhaps, and you drag it along hoping to catch a fish stupid enough to bite.

So online, a troll is in fact the very subtle art of posting to a forum, a message board, or a newsgroup, with the distinct purpose of making said community bite. A good troll is one where the community bite and have no idea they've been had (see "oh how I envy American students" for details, a troll that kept getting responses for a year); a bad troll is when it's blatantly obvious the words are designed to cause trouble (posting a derogatory comment about Mohammad to an Islamic forum for example).

Indeed, to troll is truly an art form if you're good at it. The ability to throw a grenade and no one realise you even did it is something very special. The key to getting it right is perseverance of your position though. You pick your subject, you pick your line, and you stick to however illogical, however nutty, and however much your argument is destroyed by others, you do not move and the reaction just keeps coming thick and fast.

The thing is, that was then, and this is now. Today, Usenet is obscure, it is not used by the masses, instead we have the interconnected social networks, like Twitter. Instead of trolling a specific group of people, you do it to your followers, and they repeat you, and, with a bit of luck, you'll hit the big time with your troll.... or probably more accurately.... twoll.

Your line is cast not to a small group anymore, instead it casts globally.

And so it came to pass this week, when irritating rich boy, Kenneth Tong (of Big Brother "fame") posted a twoll to Twitter about a new "size zero pill" he was selling in order to promote something he called "controlled anorexia". Now, to be fair, he could just have easily said he was marketing a "home abortion kit" which consisted of two knitting needles and a voucher for a ferret from your local pet shop, because that would have been equally unbelievable.

After all, a miraculous diet pill to help anorexics remain thin but still pig out? You'd have to be stupider than a retarded monkey to actually buy the snake oil idea and yet so many did.

You see, there are evidently many stupid people out there, who, either bought the idea, or simply got awfully upset about Tong's use of anorexia to promote. What's more, thanks to his Z-list celebrity status, the celebrities were some of those stupid people and oh how we all laughed (well I did anyway).

Rihanna (a very famous popstar for those who don't know) got upset; Kate Perry (another popstar, from California no less, so the stupidity thing may be excusable depending on your prejudices) was not amused. Aggro Santos (popstar and reality TV star) said Tong should be banned from Twitter. Gordon Ramsey felt obliged to say that he thought Tong should be ignored, and allegedly even Simon Cowell got in on the act, although that Twitter account is no longer active so may have been fake.

It wasn't just air headed music stars though that felt the need to get in on the shitstorm of course. The UK media picked it up and it appeared in newspapers and on TV. Johann Hari (irritating lefty journalist) even interviewed Tong for the Evening Standard (appearing today) and boasted of how he "annihilated" Tong's arguments, and implied, although not directly, that he was the reason Tong decided to post a message saying it was all big twoll... sorry, I mean hoax.

Now, of course, the likes of Hari are unlikely to want to admit they've been sucked in. Far better to say that Tong was always serious and having done a terrible interview in which he said incredibly silly things, had decided to say it was all a big hoax in order to go in for damage limitation.

However, if you are stupider than a retarded monkey and actually believed the miracle diet pill for anorexics line in the first place then you're probably not likely to believe the twoller when he tells you it was a twoll.

REALITY CHECK: A Z-list celebrity that no one likes very much posted a stupid and incredulous idea whilst sounding very serious designed to garner a reaction (a twoll). The reaction was forthcoming and he maintained his absurd position throughout (as all good twoller should do). What he didn't bank on was that A-List celebrities would be part of that reaction and so he had to come clean.

ALTERNATIVE TRANSLATION: A complete dick reinforced the view that he was a complete dick and showed that celebrities, journalists and proles are complete, but also gullible, dicks too. The journalists, being dicks, can't help but feed the dick to give their dick readers more dick to consume.

Global twolling is born; Kenneth Tong becomes an Internet legend (but remains a dick); and the intelligent amongst us (and by that I mean non-dribbling people) got a good laugh at the expense of all the aforementioned dicks by sitting back and watching.

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