What is troll (in internet slang) ?
In Internet slang, a troll (/ˈtroʊl/, /ˈtrɒl/) is a person who sows discord on the Internet by starting arguments or upsetting people, by posting inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community (such as a newsgroup, forum, chat room, or blog) with the intent of provoking readers into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal, on-topic discussion, often for the troll’s amusement.
This sense of both the noun and the verb “troll” is associated with Internet discourse, but also has been used more widely. Media attention in recent years has equated trolling with online harassment. For example, the mass media have used “troll” to mean “a person who defaces Internet tribute sites with the aim of causing grief to families.” In addition, depictions of trolling have been included in popular fictional works, such as the HBO television program The Newsroom, in which a main character encounters harassing persons online and tries to infiltrate their circles by posting negative sexual comments.
What is the use of troll ?
Application of the term troll is subjective. Some readers may characterize a post as trolling, while others may regard the same post as a legitimate contribution to the discussion, even if controversial. Like any pejorative term, it can be used as an ad hominem attack, suggesting a negative motivation.
As noted in an OS News article titled “Why People Troll and How to Stop Them” (25 January 2012), “The traditional definition of trolling includes intent. That is, trolls purposely disrupt forums. This definition is too narrow. Whether someone intends to disrupt a thread or not, the results are the same if they do.” Others have addressed the same issue, e.g., Claire Hardaker, in her Ph.D. thesis “Trolling in asynchronous computer-mediated communication: From user discussions to academic definitions.” Popular recognition of the existence (and prevalence) of non-deliberate, “accidental trolls”, has been documented widely, in sources as diverse as Nicole Sullivan’s keynote speech at the 2012 Fluent Conference, titled “Don’t Feed the Trolls” Gizmodo, online opinions on the subject written by Silicon Valley executives and comics.
Regardless of the circumstances, controversial posts may attract a particularly strong response from those unfamiliar with the robust dialogue found in some online, rather than physical, communities. Experienced participants in online forums know that the most effective way to discourage a troll is usually to ignore it, because responding tends to encourage trolls to continue disruptive posts – hence the often-seen warning: “Please do not feed the trolls”.
At times, the word can be abused to refer to anyone with controversial opinions they disagree with. Such usages goes against the ordinary meaning of troll in multiple ways. Most importantly, trolls don’t actually believe the controversial views they claim. Farhad Manjoo criticises this view, noting that if the person really is trolling, they are a lot more intelligent than their critics would believe.
What is meme ?
A ‘meme’ is a virally-transmitted cultural symbol or social idea.
The majority of modern memes are captioned photos that are intended to be funny, often as a way to publicly ridicule human behavior. Other memes can be videos and verbal expressions. Some memes have heavier and more philosophical content.
The world of memes (which rhymes with ‘teams’) is noteworthy for two reasons: it is a worldwide social phenomenon, and memes behave like a mass of infectious flu and cold viruses, traveling from person to person quickly through social media.
According to Cecil Adams of, the concept of memes “is either really deep, or really, really obvious”.
Most modern internet memes have some element of humor:
- Leo Dicaprio toasting
- philosophical raptor
- More Cowbell
- Numa Numa Dance
Some internet memes are also about shock-value and drama:
Other memes are urban myths that tout some kind of life lesson:
A few internet memes are about deeper philosophical content and social commentary:
In some cases, a meme achieves notoriety as a conversational expression:
The majority of internet memes are transmitted by 20-something millennials. This is because that age group is hyperconnected and enamored with social media.
The average age of meme users is increasing, though, as Generation X and Baby Boomer users discover the entertainment fun of spreading memes to their spreads.
The “meme” word was first introduced by evolutionary biologist, Richard Dawkins, in 1976. “Meme” comes from the Greek word “mimema” (meaning “something imitated”, American Heritage Dictionary).
Dawkins described memes as a being a form of cultural propagation, which is a way for people to transmit social memories and cultural ideas to each other. Not unlike the way that DNA and life will spread from location to location, a meme idea will also travel from mind to mind.
The Internet, by sheer virtue of its instant communication, is how we now spread modern memes to each other’s inboxes. A link to a YouTube video of Rick Astley, a file attachment with a Stars Wars Kid movie, an email signature with a Chuck Norris quote… these are a few examples of modern meme symbols and culture spreading through online media.
The bulk of internet memes will continue to be humor and shock-value curiosities, as these grab people’s attention more quickly than deeper meme content. But as users become more sophisticated in their thinking, expect memes to become progressively more intellectual and philosophical.
Other Examples of Modern Internet Memes:
Note: some of the following content is juvenile, and more targeted at adolescents. Some of these following memes are much more adult and are intended for more mature audiences.
- The New Old Spice Guy
This dashing fellow is a YouTube phenomenon with his outrageous visual stunts.
- Judgmental Kermit
With Kermit’s help, you can publicly judge someone’s poor life decisions.
- Nuts the Squirrel
is a Canadian critter who stole a front spot in a family photo. Today, you can “Squirrelize” your own photos to have Nuts in the foreground.
- Grumpy Cat
This pouting critter is an icon of sarcasm and bitterness on the Web!
A prankster meme: people will pretend to send critical business email links in emails, but are actually sending links to Rick Astley music videos from the 1980’s.
The absurd gallery of people attaching human behaviors and captions to photos of housecats.