I Want To Know What's Wrong With Being An Internet Troll

by Henry Blodget

From time to time, The Awl offers its space to everyday citizens with something to say.

In light of a recent gripping narrative I wrote about air travel I have been hearing a lot of complaints about “internet trolling.”

“Henry only wrote this to get attention,” some people said. “This is a new low, even for Henry,” Twitter users complained. “How does this dumb fuck even breathe properly, let alone dress himself in the morning,” asked all three members of the Council of Economic Advisers.

And so on.

But I have an interesting and important question.

(To me, all questions are interesting and important. As are all experiences! I took a cab ride the other day where the guy went up Sixth instead of Madison and I think it was just so he could charge me more! As soon as we finish assembling the slide show you can read all about it.)

What is the problem with Internet trolls? Why do people dislike them so much? Is it just an example of following-the-herd mentality? Some kind of deeper prejudice? A love of bridges?

What is the source of this animosity? Why does it perpetuate itself? Where did this prejudice come from?

What is wrong with writing something deliberately inflammatory, or even hysterically obtuse, just so enough people will pass it around that it goes “viral” on the “Internet”?

Look, I’m not stupid. I know that when I die the first line in my obituary is going to include the phrases “securities fraud” and “banned for life.” It would not be inaccurate to call me the poster boy for the kind of insider dealing and duplicity that made Americans realize just how rigged the game is against them. In fact, you could say that I’m the guy who caused the financial crisis and all the suffering we are still going through five years later. Sure, it would be overblown and largely inaccurate, needlessly overdramatizing a minor issue just to get attention and maybe make a point, but still, you could say it. I mean, yes, the fact that I have been able to move on to my current career, and to do quite well from it, is a testament to the total decline in the traditional concepts of personal responsibility and moral behavior to which the men of every preceding generation in this country had to adhere if they wanted to consider themselves decent human beings. Thirty years ago someone found culpable of the kinds of gross fraud and deceit I perpetrated would have thrown themselves out a window or gassed themselves in a garage, and while people would have shook their heads and muttered a few things about how awful suicide is, deep down they would have thought, “Well, good for him; at least in the end he did the only right and honorable thing he could have done.” But today, so long as you have a total lack of shame about your actions, not only can you survive the justified opprobrium of society, you can do quite well from it. It’s weirdly freeing: Once you realize that, for the rest of your life, everyone is going to point fingers at you in the public square and hiss, “Scumbag,” having them also think you’re an idiot is a small price to pay, particularly if you can monetize that imbecility. Is there a sweeter revenge than coming to the point where your personage is so tarnished that even you stop caring what people think of you? Once you get past the very real truth that everyone thinks you’re a vile, disgusting human being you can let yourself do almost anything without worrying that people will laugh at you. So what if they laugh? More money for me! Admit it, you even occasionally entertain a grudging admiration for my talents. Some days you find yourself envious of my ability to go about life with a complete disregard for the utter lack of esteem every even marginally respectable person in the world holds for me.

Anyway, what was I saying? Oh, right, so I honestly can’t understand what is the problem is with trolling, and I don’t know why anyone won’t tell me. I guess it will always be a mystery, like why [deaf people talk funny/women suck so bad at math and science/you can’t trust a Greek guy around sheep — check what’s trending and pick one]. It just seems weird that I’m the only one who is willing to talk about it.

Henry Blodget is the CEO and Editor-in-Chief of The Business Insider, a leading online business publication.

UPDATE: Henry Blodget asked us to make clear that this is a piece of parody which he did not himself write.

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