… is one of those words that you just can’t seem to hide from anymore.  The newspapers reference it, magazines use it, newscasters spout it, and social media is saturated with it.  It even came up at dinner the other night.

It’s a funny word, flexible and ambidextrous.  Being of a certain age, trolling to me still means fishing from a slow moving boat.  In the 90’s,  a troll  was a popular doll with hair like Don King, but cute.  And a troll, of course, is a mythical creature, generally huge, ugly and dumb.  I think the current cache of troll villains began in Norse mythology.  There are trolls that worked for Sauron in Lord of the Rings; Bilbo got them to argue until the sun came up when they turned to stone.  It was a troll that snuck into Hogwarts and almost turned Hermione into an appetizer.   

But we have moved from trolls to trolling.  Another example of our high-speed culture that can’t wait to turn a noun into a verb. Trolling is not cute, or dumb, but it is huge and ugly.

In the relatively new social media demimonde trolling  means to purposely antagonize someone online.  Of course there are multiple ways to do that… written text, pictures, video… and in our current political climate, trolling has become an art for some, and an obsession for others.   

But it is one of those words, or concepts, that is losing meaning, fading from overuse, fraying at the edges from being stretched to fit too many things.  Now, I think, it has morphed into any joke, negative comment, or even a reasonable disagreement directed at someone.  I react, I disagree, I joke, I poke fun, but I don’t troll.  At least  don’t think I do.

And, silly of me I know, but I have this serene image in my head when I see the word trolling.  In my head, a huge beast with bad teeth is fishing in a slow moving boat.  Behind him, a tiny naked figure with wild hair is rowing with one hand and frantically typing something into his cell phone with the other.