Members of the newly-formed Troll Anti-Defamation Alliance held a press conference this week to protest the continued usage of the term “troll” to denote a person guilty of posting deliberately provocative messages, unsubstantiated accusations, and malicious ad hominem attacks on message boards, forums, newsgroups and other online communities. Speaking from the solemn Trollkyrka in Tiveden, Sweden (legendary site of ancient pagan human sacrifice, currently the site of a large Ikea warehouse and shipping depot), a diverse group of Trolls from across Scandinavia and Northern Europe gathered together to announce the official launch of a new outreach initiative aimed at salvaging and recuperating the tarnished image of Trolldom.
A large, fearsome-looking Norse Storm Troll dressed in a stylish Armani suit, horned helmet and necklace of human finger-bones offered the following opening statement:
Once upon a time, there existed an understanding between trolls and humans. Sometimes a particularly clever mortal would trick us out of our carefully-horded gold, and sometimes we would crush your skulls, then use your bones to pick our teeth. It was a natural give-and-take. At times, Trolls have even been worshipped and adored by your strange, fickle culture. Remember the Moomin Boom of the Nineties? No? Okay, then what of the adorable Troll Dolls, with hair of many bright and magical hues, who frolicked besides your precious ‘Barbies’ and your ‘G.I. Joes’ and rode majestically atop the pens and pencils of your children?
Alas, those days are gone. For the last two decades1, our proud and ancient race of mythical beings has been viciously slandered, our once-noble name dragged through the worst filth imaginable, becoming a byword for the lowest and most utterly despised of your kind.
It is time that we emerge from under our hills, mounds, caves, and bridges to reclaim our mythic birthright and set the record straight. We’ve attempted to simply ignore this indignity, as well as trying ‘slow reverts’ in accordance with the Laws of the Internet, but the amount of misinformation just kept piling up—so we’ve decided that it is time to start the dispute resolution process. Thus, to all human denizens of the Web, today I offer this message: We will extend a claw, if you are willing to unclench your fist.
Following this stirring introduction, representatives of the Troll community spoke in turn, warning of the long-term, possibly tragic effects of DNFTT policies in meatspace and detailing plans to reach out to A-list trolls and troll-friendly celebrities including Danny DeVito, Clint Howard, Fran Drescher and Robin Williams. There was an uncomfortable moment when one Närkel the Sea-Troll launched into a long rant decrying the anti-Troll agenda supposedly perpetrated by a complex conspiracy of fairies, elves, and liberal Hollywood, forcing Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, standing by warily with a laptop in one hand and a nasty-looking battle-axe in the other, to intervene. Wales patiently encouraged the participants “not to phrase their views in a hostile way, or accuse their opposition of being in a cabal, since such behavior is generally considered...well...trollish.”
In spite of this awkward exchange, the atmosphere was generally positive; the Trolls seemed both earnest and rational in their complaints, at no point acting in bad faith or as if motivated by a program of malice. Unfortunately, Wales was forced to step up a second time in his role as moderator during an inflammatory speech by the notoriously radical G’zhorn of the Black Forest, as the Troll coalition became increasingly agitated during his feverish call to “put the blame for Internet dickery squarely where it belongs: on the shoulders of those libelous, beady-eyed sock puppets!”
Wales only managed to quell the incipient uprising by leaping through the air, cleaving a mighty oak in twain with his massive axe and bellowing, “By Mjolnir, the great hammer of Thor, I command you to be silent!” Later, after order was restored, Wales was seen shaking his head and muttering to himself, “Sock puppets don’t even have shoulders. I’m getting too old for this shit.”
All in all, the press conference marks an historic first step toward healing the rift between troll and mortal, and toward establishing a new, more acceptable terminology to describe the absolute dregs of human society which will offend neither man, mythical creature, or puppet. Z’gronk of Götlunda surely put it best in his eloquent closing statement:
Sure, I might live under a bridge and terrify children all the live-long day. Absolutely! Kids, billy goats, princesses—I’ve done it all. Hell, I also shape-shift and horde treasure like you wouldn’t believe. I am what I am, and I’m not going to apologize for it...but would I repeatedly post ‘First!!!’ in the comments section of somebody’s blog, over and over again, for no apparent reason? Or start a flame war just because I’m bored and seemingly incapable of otherwise entertaining myself?
Overcome with emotion, pausing to wipe a tear from his grizzled cheek, he concluded, “No. No, I would not. Because I am a Troll—not a complete asshole. It’s time to learn the difference, people.”
1 The earliest known usage of the term dates to 1991