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Monday, November 4

The Art of Trolling...

Brian Penny is a liar
Fuck da police...
"They see me trollin...they hatin...patrollin and tryna catch me writin dirty..." - Versability

If you've ever connected to the internet, there's a good chance you've met a troll. People go back and forth over whether or not trolling should be considered illegal. An anonymous police officer ironically posted a decent article detailing what trolling is, suggesting trolls would be much less likely to act the way they do if they had to use their real name online. He also suggests that trolling, by its very nature, is inciting a riot, which is already illegal.

While this anonymous Pig seems to have a grasp on what trolling is, he seems to underestimate the value of trolling, and bullying isn't it. Trolling is an art form and freedom of expression. In short, trolls don't incite riots - people start riots...allow me to remove my anonymity to explain it to you, Mr. Anonymous (i.e cowardly, by his own admission) Cop...

My Name Is Brian Penny...and I Am An Internet Troll...


Brian Penny HuffPost Live
One of the HPL segments I didn't troll...

Now that I've removed any Anonymous masks so you can see my real name and face, I'm going to live up to my title of whistleblower and break down for you a couple of my trolls from this year. Here's how the faceless Ask-a-Pig defines a troll:

from Dictionary.com: "1. Informal. Submit a deliberately provocative posting to an online message board with the aim of inciting an angry response."

from Urban Dictionary.com (FYI - The cop completely misquotes these): "2. Being hurtful on the Internet because you can. Typically unleashing one or more cynical or sarcastic remarks on an innocent bystander because it's the Internet and, hey, you can.

3. The art of deliberately, cleverly and secretly angering people, usually via the Internet, using dialogue. Trolling does not mean just making rude remarks: Shouting swear words at someone doesn't count as trolling; it's just flaming, and isn't funny. Spam isn't trolling either; it enrages people, but it's lame."

Ignoring the popo's "evidence tampering" in the definitions above, he understands the general idea of why people troll. In fact, here's his exact statements:

"So why should trolls go to jail? They are causing or inciting a riot plain and simple. The sole purpose is to upset as many people as possible through malicious or deceptive statements. They then sit back and watch the carnage. There is no benefit to anyone except themselves. The victims of these trolls are upset the rest of the day. They are driving aggressively on the roads, yelling at their co-workers and being consumed with a way to find out who that person on the Internet was."

He makes a good point. By trolling the internet, I've upset quite a few people. I'm sure they yelled at their family, friends, and coworkers about how much of an idiot I am (in fact, in a moment, I'll show proof of my work). I'm positive those people drove as aggressively as they would if their favorite football team threw an interception that lost the game.

So, should I, as this pasty-faced tin man munching Doritos in his parents' basement suggests, be thrown in prison for replicating the experience of a person's favorite sports team losing? Should the coach of the losing team rot in the pokey with me? Let's analyze my most successful troll to date, and I'll let you decide for yourselves...

The 30 Best Movies of All Time...


Brian Penny Movie Troll
Click here to see the best...troll...ever...

In May 2013, I was given an assignment for Lifehack: write a list of the 30 best movies of all time. I was given an example (Pirates of the Caribbean at #1) for the format and was told to pick the 30 best movies ever made. This type of opportunity is what every troll dreams of. By putting Pirates of the Caribbean at the top of a list of the greatest movies ever made, Lifehack left me with no other choice but to troll the interwebz...and troll I did...

It took me two full days to select the movies and another day to write and format the article, during which time, I made a few last minute adjustments. I won't bore you with the full list, but I purposefully ensured I selected only newer movies and injected my personal propaganda into the list, a common theme in my writing, as I'm reviving Hunter S Thompson's gonzo journalism movement (dubbed Gonzo 2.0).

Simply selecting horrible movies wouldn't cut it though. "Best Movies" is a subjective list, and there's no scientific answer. People can argue back and forth over such an opinionated subject, and I knew that, so I made sure to actually select great movies from a far-reaching (and yet at the same time, very small) variety of film genres, only cutting the movie Troll 2 from the list at the last minute to avoid detection. Although it's obvious from looking at the list that it's a troll, it's also very subtle. In short - it's one of the most comprehensive long-form trolls on the internet.

Executing the Troll...


My list itself was a decent troll (the comments were venomous), but it didn't reach as far as I'd hoped. I decided I needed to do more, so I jumped into the comment well of my own blog piece and issued a challenge (actually several):

Brian Penny Lifehack Movie Troll

I continuously mocked the commenters, challenging the entire internet to come up with a better movie list than mine within the comments of my own movie list. I defied anyone to beat my list within my own list - a seemingly simple, and yet impossible, challenge.

That was the exact fuel necessary to get fed - StumbleUpon lit up and distributed my movie list troll to over 110,000 people (and still counting). People were enraged that I had the audacity to list movies like Grandma's Boy and Bad Boys (a Michael Bay film) alongside The Shawshank Redemption on a greatest movies list that included no Star Wars or Godfather films (and the only black and white film was Young Frankenstein).

The Troll that Keeps Trolling...


Much like a classic movie or album, the true test of a successful troll is in the test of time. Since I'm not just your average anonymous troll working the comment wells, I have a few more tools at my command. I have posting access to mainstream blogs and large-scale websites. Working within the media, I have backstage access to quite a bit, actually.

Every so often when I get bored, I still submit the list to an entertainment news tracker. Just last week, I submitted it to Filmwatch, where it overtook popular geek films (even Halloween lists...on Halloween) to create an all-new furor...

Brian Penny film troll
Batman beat the Troll...but only barely...

People are very predictable, and now that this Lifehack Best Movies list has so many views and shares, it will continue to enrage people, "inciting riots," and ruining days for years.

The Bonus Troll Feed...


The best part about trolling is feeding. Feeding is the term given to the rubes that fall for a troll. An expert troll isn't just trolling - an expert troll feeds other trolls to even out his troll karma. That's why I wrote this blog...because the original article - written by an anonymous police officer, hypocritically chastising trolls and not allowing comments - is actually a brilliant troll in itself...and I've just fed it...I hope it grows strong...

So...do I deserve to go to jail for writing a movie list as a troll? Does Brian Lee, my editor at Lifehack, deserve to go to jail for giving me an assignment that was a troll in itself? Does the anonymous cop deserve to go to jail for his troll piece on trolling that doesn't allow comments? Does a football team deserve to go to jail if they lose a game and the city riots? Troll my comments...

Wanna see an even better troll? Check out: how I trolled Bank of America...

Brian Penny is a former business analyst at Bank of America turned whistleblower and freelance writer. He's a frequent contributor to MainstreetLifehack, and HardcoreDroid and an affiliate of Manduka and Tazo. He documents his experiences working with Anonymous, practicing yoga, and fighting the banks on his blog.



1 comment:

  1. great, i love a clever trolling, even when i have been the dupe.

    ReplyDelete