Troll Theory? Issue 22: Trolls and the Negative Space of the Internet

Glen FULLER, Jason Wilson, Christian McCrea

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    We only talk about trolls inside a polemic. To aver that someone is trolling is to allege that their participation conceals the aims of their disruption; by implication, they are to be excluded or dismissed. The Internet’s folk wisdom for trolls says: ‘Do not feed them!’ This remedy rests on a belief that acknowledgement and interaction are the barest matters of subsistence in an attention economy. To call out a troll is thus to recognise who ought or ought not speak or be listened to. Since to describe an interlocutor as a troll is to invite a third party to put them beyond the pale, the charge is often contested. We can understand this as, at once, an artefact of agonistic politics and as an attempt to avoid it. It is reassertion of the ‘table manners’ (Arditi, 2006) of liberal civility; like any such insistence it can be a way of forestalling political demands made outside the current limits of acceptability in political contention (Tomlinson, 2010; Shaw, 2012). It can also be used to redefine these demands as so much unintelligible noise (Rancière, 2011)
    Original languageEnglish
    Article numberFCJ-22
    Pages (from-to)1-15
    Number of pages15
    JournalFibreculture Journal
    Publication statusPublished - 2013


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