A 40-year-old dad and lawyer who lives outside Tampa, he says he has become addicted to the attention. Then his best friend, who he used to do pranks with as a kid, killed himself.Now he's got an illness that's keeping him home. "Let's say I wrote a letter to the New York Times saying I didn't like your article about Trump. On Twitter I communicate directly with the writers.But trolling has become the main tool of the alt-right, an Internet-grown reactionary movement that works for men's rights and against immigration and may have used the computer from Weird Science to fabricate Donald Trump.
It's expanded to anything and everything: video games, clothing ads, even remaking a mediocre comedy from the 1980s.
In July, trolls who had long been furious that the 2016 reboot of Ghostbusters starred four women instead of men harassed the film's black co-star Leslie Jones so badly on Twitter with racist and sexist threats--including a widely copied photo of her at the film's premiere that someone splattered semen on--that she considered quitting the service.
A Pew Research Center survey published two years ago found that 70% of 18-to-24-year-olds who use the Internet had experienced harassment, and 26% of women that age said they'd been stalked online. A 2014 study published in the psychology journal Personality and Individual Differences found that the approximately 5% of Internet users who self-identified as trolls scored extremely high in the dark tetrad of personality traits: narcissism, psychopathy, Machiavellianism and, especially, sadism.
But maybe that's just people who call themselves trolls.
The alt-right's favorite insult is to call men who don't hate feminism "cucks," as in "cuckold." Republicans who don't like Trump are "cuckservatives." Men who don't see how feminists are secretly controlling them haven't "taken the red pill," a reference to the truth-revealing drug in The Matrix.
They derisively call their adversaries "social-justice warriors" and believe that liberal interest groups purposely exploit their weakness to gain pity, which allows them to control the levers of power.Internet trolls have a manifesto of sorts, which states they are doing it for the "lulz," or laughs.What trolls do for the lulz ranges from clever pranks to harassment to violent threats.And that could not be further from the truth," says Whitney Phillips, a literature professor at Mercer University and the author of This Is Why We Can't Have Nice Things: Mapping the Relationship Between Online Trolling and Mainstream Culture."These are mostly normal people who do things that seem fun at the time that have huge implications. And this little bit--these several thousand words--is like leaving bears a pan of baklava.