Trolling Privilege

An internet troll; a person on the internet who seeks to instigate arguments online by posting and commenting with the intention of provoking emotional and controversial reactions.


The term trolling has subsequently been developed to describe these actions of online harassment, instigation and form of bullying. Trolls often provoke controversy and are extremely disruptive. They often times steer people away from cites, forums and online communities, due to the anxiety that they present in these spaces. Trolling is seen as a gaming activity online. Trolls peruse the internet and stir up arguments in various communities, generating animosity and strife.

Whitney Phillips writes in The House That Fox Built: Anonymous, Spectacle, and Cycles of Amplification, “Trolls believe that nothing should be taken seriously, so they affect an aggressively oppositional and highly gendered stance whenever they encounter sentimentality or simply ideological rigidity—an ideologically rigid assumption unto itself” (499). Internet trolls have concealed identities. There is no true way of knowing who they are or what they believe. However, there are some distinct characteristics about them. Phillips almost mentions that trolling is extremely raced,

“In addition to suggesting a particular age range and nationality, trolling behaviors on /b/ are strongly indicative of whiteness. Most obviously, trolling humor is frequently directed at people of color, particularly African Americans. Even when engaging in racially neutral humor, anons take their own whiteness, and the whiteness of their audience, for granted; on the rare occasion that an anon comes forward as nonwhite, he or she must self-identify, that is, flag himself or herself as racially Other” (497).

Identity plays a large role in the trolling activity. The fact that identity is concealed and also quite obvious based on comments and online action, this says a lot about the people who participate in trolling.


Trolling is race and gendered and classes as are most activities both on and offline. Whitney Phillips makes the point to address the act of trolling is one of privilege. “But at a very basic level, trolls’ terrestrial experiences—levels of education, access to media and technology, political affiliation or lack thereof—influence their online choices, including (and most basically) the ability to go online at all” (496). Trolls come from a place of privilege where they have access. The “ability to go online” is a privilege as is the choices that they are making by trolling. The trolling activity is often done by those that enjoy the leisure of online harassment and do not reap any repercussions.

Phillips, Whitney. “The House That Fox Built: Anonymous, Spectacle, and Cycles of Amplification.” Television & New Media 14.6 (2013): 494-509. Print.

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  1. Pingback: The Age of Keyboard Warriors | biodunadebiyi

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