Short disclaimer before I begin this discourse: I have been known to troll from time to time, but I limit my trolling to slashdot and do not even troll there any more because, ironically, the place is overrun with trolls. I will occasionally slip into troll mode on everything, but if I do, I do so as demonstration and clearly state that I am doing or have done so. I have no intention of adding more coals to an already well-stoked fire. Thanks also to Troll for a recent writeup of his that reminded me of an art I'd forgotten about.
The key feature of art is that it is creative expression that elicits emotion. Writing is considered a form of art. Nobody would argue that the poems of Poe or the famous Thomas Hardy mysteries... Oops - troll mode again - Hardy was a poet, The Hardy Boys were the players in detective fiction. Anyway, nobody would argue that Shakespeare or Dante is not art. It is all creative writing that elicits emotion.

Trolling is no different in any way whatsoever. Like the other arts, it comes more naturally to some people than it does to others. You look around, you come to know your compatriots, you participate in active, honest discussion. And after you know their habits, eventually that whisper in the back of your head. It's a voice. "You know these guys here at slashdot really hate Big Business and they just love Free Software, and here they are talking about how Free Software helped create the internet." You know they're right, but before you can stop yourself you blurt out, "You know Open Source is great for getting ideas flowing, but until you have a corporation actually get in there and build and market it, it rarely actually amounts to anything." And you find yourself thinking, "What the hell was that?! Even if I honestly believed it, they'd never buy it. Best to just fess up now." But that little whisper has taken control and now controls your powers of speech. "Sure some defense eggheads had the idea of the huge neural network, but it was AT&T that actually built the damn thing. They wrote UNIX, too, that operating system you love so much. You owe your whole livelihood to Big Business." But it doesn't stop there.

Soon you find you are telling the Christian about how evolution and the Big Bang are concrete fact, and then relaying her (as women are the less intelligent sex - shit, doing it again, sorry) -- their replies to the devout atheist as your own misguided pagan (sorry!) beliefs. You are a godless Marxist revolutionary among the gun-toting, bible thumping hicks (shit - sorry, sorry) and an NRA-member among the communist Democrats (sorry). You are vehemently opposed or staunchly in favor of abortion, depending entirely upon your present company.

And then, when the whisper has gone, you are free to face the horrible consequences.

But there is that glee. It is not the glee of a sadist (or a masochist for that matter), at enciting the hatred of others, but the glee that your words have charged a person's emotions, made them again conscious that they are alive. In their turning on you, you too feel emotion. The same emotions as your audience. You are, as they are, conscious of the blood flowing through your veins, of the sweat on your brow, of the air in your lungs, of the fragility and necessity of life. Emotions are base things - suited for your survival, and so infinitely more powerful than logic or reason in their affect upon us. So it is for that taste that the troll, nay, the artist, lives.

So I'll admit it. I am an artist. I write music, poetry, stories, I paint, I draw. And damn it, I troll, too.

All artists are manipulators. And we're never understood.

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