Meet Grouchy Smurf. Grouchy Smurf hates pictures with quotes on them. Mind well, it is not that they hate this quote, or that they hate this picture, or that they hate this blog; Grouchy Smurf simply hates… because Grouchy Smurf is Grouchy Smurf. It’s not about the qutoe, it’s not about whatever, it’s about Grouchy Smurf. The important part of the sentence ‘I hate … is the ‘I’ at the beginning. Grouchy Smurf is the prototype of a troll.
Trolls are pure narcissists. Their negativity never relates to the event or person on which they comment. It is all about them. Trump sitting alone in his bedroom at night, with the TV and his phone as only lights, caught in his inner world of demons and shadows, tapping along on his phone, sending out tweets to nobody really, is the perfect image of the narcissistic monologue that is so characteristic of trolls. Trolls do not speak to anybody in particular, and they do not mean anything in particular. The point of their sputtered words is not saying something to or about the world, big or small, close or far, but to yell at this anonymous, amorphous outside of the I that ‘I am heeeeeeeere!’.
Trollitics is therefore the complete contrary of politics. Politics, even the most vicious politics like fascism, are about the organisation of a collective. Politics is thinking, debating, fighting about the ways we live together and with (or against) each other. Politics is, even if by default, about the other and, in this respect, about me with others; it is about relations. Trollitics is only about the ‘I’; the other does not exist, at least not in any recognizable form. The other is merely a schematic, vague, imagined and distorted reflection of the ‘I’ and, because it is distorted, so unrecognizable.
This is why trollitics merge so easily with (neo)liberalism since the line between liberal individualism and atomistic narcissism is very, very thin. Trollitics might use the vocabulary of liberal politics for words like ‘freedom’ or ‘competition’ resonate well with the self-centredness of trolls (similar for the vocabulary of sports or business). However, these words are cladding and do not reflect any project, vision or (beware!) utopia of how we, the collective, can, should or need to live together since trolls cannot imagine or think ‘together’. The atomistic anonymity of the internet age and of decentralized urban modernity are the perfect habitat for trolls.
Because trollitics is not politics it is also so oblivious of its consequences. Trump sending off fighter jets just to call them back a minute later is, again, a prime example. As alpha troll Trump did not think so far as to understand the disastrous consequences his decision could have; his call back is not a sudden responsible reflection. On the contrary, it is simply the realization that, indeed, there is a consequence to what he says. Trolls rarely exist in face-to-face settings where one is forced to directly, physically talk to one another. The purpose of trolling is not towards the world, to act in any way upon the world; the only purpose is to say ‘I’ in as many variations possible.
Yet, trollitics are, of course, not inconsequential. Trolls are destructive precisely because they are so profoundly nihilistic. They do not even go to the length of denying the existence of the other; they do not even realise that there is a world around them that is not an extension of their own narcissism. Just as individual trollism becomes an essential way of life for individuals, trollitics practically means that the world is to arranged so as to suit the alpha troll’s ‘I’-ness. Obviously, this is an ideal world for smooth operators and con artists of all kind who will spin the world to turn around the troll. It is also an inherently unstable, destructive and capricious world as trolls’ whims and woos change in the blink of an eye as their narcissism can never be satisfied.