One of the key themes that jumped out from Milner and Phillips work was the indistinguishability between trolling as a commentary on social norms or as an earnest expression of one’s own views. The convergence of a space inhabited by anonymous people, as well as others who are in control of creating their own identity through the use of what Milner and Phillips refer to as “masks” foments a sense of suspicion online. I know that I assume the worst of anybody who is on some online forum, especially when I read their comments through my individual lens. It would be so much easier if it was internet decorum for things to be prefaced with “read as: satire” or “read as: bigotry”, but alas we can’t make our things nice and easy. Milner and Phillips define trolling as something that, “tends to imply deliberate, playful subterfuge, and the infliction of emotional distress on unwitting or unwilling audiences” (7). And I think that this is where the real satisfaction for people who troll online comes from. They can hide behind the statement “oh it was just a joke, don’t be such a killjoy,” as well as their anonymity.
Sure it does not make sense to condemn a whole group of people, whose intentions we do not know, but at the same time, the act of trolling preys on victims. Whether it be an unknowing user who is not part of an in-group, or it is a user who feels as if they are being targeted by an online interaction, there are people who get hurt. One does not blurt out some potentially misconstrued saying in class, so why does this behavior translate into acceptable online? I would classify the internet troll (as well as the one under most bridges) as a killjoy. Their words and actions are used to divert someone from their intentioned path. Their words are used to make the reader think about something new, and most of the time it is not some constructive thought.