By Karthik Shankar:
Sexist trolls online may finally be getting their comeuppance. Users behind a Facebook page with the overly literal title ‘Sexually Frustrated Mallu’ are on a personal quest to name and shame cyber users who post misogynistic comments online. The page already has almost 16,000 likes and several posts, most of which I’m sadly unable to read given they are in Malayalam.
But it got me thinking about trolling. Trolls are an inevitable part of online life these days. I’ve encountered several very smart ones on Reddit who manage to make provocations and non-sequiturs and usually contribute to a fantastic comedic experience on certain message boards. But they usually tend to be among the minority. Most trolls are usually of the ‘keeps banging their head against a wall till it makes some noise’ variety.
The idea of trolling is still relatively new to the Indian internet user, but we’ve taken to it like ducks to water (There’s a reason they say Indians are the most adaptable people in the world). I see trolls everywhere online. Many Times of India articles have what I like to call the ‘Modi brigade‘ that aims fire at any article that dares to excoriate him or his administration. Then there are the sexist trolls who bring colour and spark to the world of online trolling. They are the ones that leave comments on a Vidya Balan article calling her a fat aunty or post “U luk very swEet Katrina. I m ur big fan. Call me 875656****” on Katrina Kaif articles.
But if you think sexist trolls are a monolithic group, think again. Even among them there exists a hierarchy.
React to the Headline – One of the burdens of taking on the mantle of a troll is that you have less time for other activities like reading or basic comprehension. So you work your magic by reacting to headlines. Who cares what this article says about porn, let’s attack the writer because he wants to take away our right to watch Sunny Leone at night.
Mansplainers – These are sexist trolls of the benign variety. They come from a place of love, you see. They especially love explaining to women why they are wrong and ask them to focus on important issues like their education and not wilt away like a rotting flower. They usually talk to women like a father unless she’s good looking enough to make them forget about the generation gap.
#MensRights – These are the loud obnoxious sexist trolls; think of those boorish people you meet at bars who love yelling ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’ and taking a swig of whisky. They usually share an affinity for caps lock and are literally the visual manifestation of a loud person. No point is worth being made IF IT ISN’T THROWN RIGHT ON YOUR FACE.
Statistics Speak – These are the brainy experts who are able to quote complicated statistics at the drop of a hat. Some of these have never even been uncovered by the Census Bureau. For instance, 90% of women falsely report rape while having sex with a man. 88% of all dowry cases are frauds, intended to make a man give up his ancestral property just for the lolz. The numbers are compelling and usually never fall below 85%.
Pun Intended – These trolls love making puns and are especially adept at tools like Photoshop. Hey did you know mangos are a great metaphor for a woman’s breasts? They also stun with their ingenuity when they coin dazzling phrases. They usually reuse a joke at least a dozen times.
Not all Men – These are the men who are upset you violated the bro code. “Bro. Not all men are rapists” they say. “There are about four of us who aren’t. Why doesn’t the media talk about us?” Maybe because you did nothing worth reporting? They also love making generalisations about women right after they admonish us for making generalisations about them.
What were we talking about? – Well researched articles involving gender equality are usually expected to have a classier set of comments, and they do. Comments from these trolls cover a wide variety of topics from the Mahabharata to recent judicial proceedings and make an art of linking it into one seamless whole. They are like the crazy geniuses who have figured out the key to unlocking some ancient mystery. Sometimes if you’re lucky, their ramblings may even be tangentially related to the article!
So, write in the comments below. Have you experienced any of these kind of trolls, or are you one of them?