“The irony of being upset that a noted custodian of "creepshots" is getting some unwanted attention himself is obvious. Jailbait defenders would often argue that if 14-year-olds didn't want their bikini pictures to be posted to Reddit, they should not have taken them and uploaded them to their Facebook accounts in the first place. If Brutsch did not want his employers to know that he had become a minor internet celebrity through spending hours every day posting photos of 14-year-olds in bikinis to thousands of people on the internet, he should have stuck to posting cat videos.”—
On Internet Trolling
Self-awareness, belatedly kicking in, tells me I craved the stimulation of conflict but feared personal confrontation, hence Internet trolling. Whenever I needed a distraction from the stress of my own life, I’d troll. I didn’t troll for the little (negative) attention trolling begets. I trolled for the thrill of trolling itself; for the instant gratification. Trolling gives the troll a high in the same way a bottle of Mtn Dew gives one a sugar high: a bad, unhealthy way.
I started trolling Neopets when I was a 10-year-old kid. After Neopets, I moved onto murkier terrain: various political forums (The Daily Kos was a personal favorite), IMDB, and later, Tumblr. I am not The Voice of a Generation… fortunately for us, that would be Lena Dunham! But I am a voice of a generation that grew up on the Internet.
A friend once told me, “I believe in you, Safy, but you have to realize you’re above trolling. Your work is already good enough on its own, and careers are built on the connections and friendships you create, not the people you take down (mostly).” He said this to me after I pulled an Internet stunt aimed at causing someone mild distress for a couple minutes, i.e. low-level trolling, i.e. no-life-having behavior. I promised my friend, who is an esteemed Internet writer, that I’d stop the foolishness, but instead followed up that stunt with another stunt, which Gawker’s Adrien Chen covered. By this time, trolling started feeling icky.
As icky as trolling feels and looks and generally is, sometimes it can actually be beautiful. Ngant is, one of my personal Internet icons, is a troll whose work— yes, work— is beautiful. I am lucky to have gotten the chance to talk to him.
NGant’s real name is Chris. He is a 41-year-old government worker. In talking to me, an uncharacteristically forthright NGant is violating his clearance. It’s hard to imagine that someone who does secret stuff for the government ever spent their free time trolling the Internet, but that’s exactly what Ngant did.
Satirizing contemporary America, NGant amassed a cult following among a very tiny fraction of the Internet. But even at a micro level, the weight of Internet fame, and the expectations that come with it, is stifling. “I started getting a fan base, so then its like all of a sudden you have this added pressure to perform, which isn’t as easy as just posting to piss people off. When people start sending you fanmail, it starts feeling like work.”
There had also been, what NGant calls, “three waves” of deletion. “Suddenly, one day, IMDB got a bug up their ass, so they mass deleted everything. The first wave had a bunch of conspiracy posts about the Crocodile Hunter’s death. There was the second wave, with the Tobey post, and those were probably the best ones, but then IMDB deleted those, too. I always imagine that I pissed off some anal publicist for one of the third-rate talents I wrote about, and they went and sobbed to IMDB.” In the Tobey post, NGant wrote that Tobey McGuire was visiting a child in the hospital who was terminally ill with gynocomastea. After NGant had made the post, there were about five posts saying, “That’s so sweet,” and “We knew Toby was so nice.” Then someone said, “Gynocomastea equals man boobs.” Embarrassed, Tobey McGuire fans left and deleted their posts in act of mass Internet suicide together.
Slant Magazine called NGant “the Internet’s greatest unsung humorist,” writing “weird little odes to a variety of stars that place these stars in a variety of new contexts to deflate celebrity pomposity.” NGant’s humor relies on American gullibility, American celebrity, and American one-upmanship. Every response that isn’t in on the joke is a desired response. “They’re still stupid enough to get angry about it and try to put you in your place. Those are probably the dumbest ones.” NGant concedes that trolling is a cry for help: “Grasping for recognition, attention, validation, in whatever smutty little nook it can be eked from, the troll quivers in the shadows, despoiling others’ favorite celebrity sites, gossip sites, etc. My mother weeps for her son, her depraved, wretched troll of a son. She eats her Christmas dinners ashamed and alone, with nothing but Perry Como crooning over the pall.”
Much like marijuana, there are unlimited strains of trolling. People tend to focus primarily on the “k1ll yrslf” garden variety flamers, forgetting that trolling isn’t always (and certainly doesn’t have to be) antisocial. Not all trolls are sociopaths who were rarely hugged as children and rejected by society as teenagers. Some trolls are malicious, others are hilarious. Many, like my former troll self, are just annoying.
Gawker Media: "Everything You Need to Know About TrapWire, the Surveillance System Everyone Is Freaking Out About"
File this under: “You are not being paranoid, they really are out to get you.” Thank god I’m a loose cannon. Being a human shit-show never felt so safe.