Trolls no longer live under bridges: they sit at keyboards, writing for the likes of the Daily Mail, creating outrage to ensure website clicks and well-paid appearances on daytime telly.
Forget the idiot trolls – predominantly teenage boys and middle-aged loners sitting in their underpants sending abuse to strangers while waiting for their mum to shout “tea’s done” – these new, media trolls are the real problem but, rather than get arrested for their ridiculous statements, they make money.
They come in all guises, these trolls; they arrive with their faux anger and false opinions intended only to make being a troll an entrepreneur activity for the 21st century.
Although ultimately still troll-like in appearance with their wizened, bitter features and eyes ablaze from the excitement of upsetting random readers and telly viewers for no reason other than profit and a step up the career ladder.
You’ve seen them. Some are your wannabe-journalist trolls like Samantha Brick and Katie Hopkins; others are your professional trolls like Brendan O’Neill and Julie Burchill. They insult the working class, the vulnerable, the different .. but they’re journalists, so it’s okay, right?
Samantha Brick challengingly thinks all women are jealous of her appearance: “Women hate me for no other reason than my lovely looks.”
Katie Hopkins offensively says working class parents are unintelligent: “The Class Book of Baby Names. Also available in Large Print, Easy read.”
Julie Burchill controversially thinks the nation is so apolitical its concern was only ever Thatcher’s gender: “She has done harsh things and had a great deal of faith in herself — and, being a woman, this more than anything is why she remains so unforgiven by certain sections of society.”
Brendan O’Neill contrarily worries himself about poor people getting insulted by oiks in times of “austerity”: “Mocking toffs is fast becoming the bloodsport of choice among Left-leaning politicians and influential commentators.”
It is predictable and tedious. But what is to be done? Don’t feed them is the obvious response.
The more fuel you give to the trolls the more money they make from newspaper columns and TV appearances where they spout the same, intentionally ridiculous shite they first shared in a well-placed Tweet.
These trolls crawl out of their beds each morning, fleetingly glance at what’s going on in the world, then settle in front of their computers, sneering, giggling, to write formulaic, join-the-dots articles stating an intentionally controversial opinion. The opinions aren’t necessarily held by them but will promote a news site, ensure readers to their column, bring a pat on the back from an editor who thinks its writers being ridiculed by readers is an achievement.
A lack of principle and no journalism ethics means they’ll produce right-wing shite for The Sun and less right-wing shite for The Guardian so long as the money goes in the bank.
These trolls,of course, exist alongside the lesser “celebrity” hacks but together they create a predominantly white, middle class, myopic clique of London-based writers who condemn, judge and make a mockery of our lives and our journalism.
It’s a nasty trend that sees columnists paid to share their ill-informed views – sometimes with intent to cause offense - while investigative journalism falls by the wayside and real journalists struggle to find freelance or staff jobs.
It’s all just another knife in the back of British journalism. Don’t feed the trolls.