June Newsletter
     February 28,  2015       |   Santa Barbara, California                  


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I barge in on my wife in the kitchen and startle her. I’m not supposed to barge, and startling is expressly forbidden, but I’m mad and I forget. The majority of our marital epic fail moments are due to me forgetting things.

“I’m sick of Trolls!”

She jumps and then says, “Of what?”

“Of Trolls. They’re just despicable. I can’t stand it anymore! They’re driving me CRAZY!”

“O…kay. Trolls. Right.”

“I’m serious. They’re vile, disgusting, parasitic creatures. Always sniping, griping and tearing apart decent people limb from limb just for the thrill of it.”

“We’re talking about Trolls, right? Not Orcs, Goblins or Fairies?” She looks at me with that unreadable face and arched eyebrow which I make the mistake of trying to read.

“Ha. Ha. Well, Orcs (also known as Goblins) are completely illiterate, so you don’t see them online very often except for YouTube where they make really bad death metal videos. And Fairies? Well they’re mostly mischievous and famously fickle, continually editing and then deleting their posts.”

“It worries me that you seem to know this.”

“Well, you asked.”

“Beloved husband, look at my face.”

I look at her beautiful, inscrutable face. It occurs to me that if I was better able to scrute, I might avoid more of these marital fails.

“See my face?”

“Yes, I see your face. What?”

“Is this the face of someone who has the slightest clue about what you’re talking about? Trolls? Those mythical creatures with crazy hair, beards, live in caves, etc...?”

“Well, unfortunately, they’re anything but mythical. The thing about trolls is you never see them in the light of day. They hide in their morose caves behind pseudonyms. You don’t even know their gender, although most are likely frustrated, older, white males.”

“Pseudonyms. You didn’t by chance eat the moldy Shiitake mushrooms I’d planned to return to Trader Joe’s?”

“No, of course not. But yes! That’s the whole point of being a troll. You leap out of your damp, despairing, bone scattered dwelling, and POUNCE on an unsuspecting passerby with brutal nonsense. And you never use your real name.”

“Of course, why would a troll use their real name? Wait. You’re filming this, riiiight? It’s a prank video you’re hoping will go viral?”

“No, sweetie. This is for real. Trolls are ruining civil discourse on the internet!”

And then it hits me. Duh. She doesn’t know these horrible anonymous, bottom-feeder-people on the internet are called Trolls.  I feel wise and knowledgeable, something that does not come naturally in our relationship.  I savor the moment.

“You don’t know what trolls really are, do you?”

“Well, you’re doing a bang up job explaining them. I’m just a little concerned about your grip on reality.”

“No, sweetie. Trolls are human, well…, mostly human. At least their DNA would probably test human. ‘Troll’ is just a term for people who hide behind fake names and say horrible, lowest-common-denominator things online to gain attention. They are narcissists born from the anonymity of the internet, saying cowardly utterances they would never say in person. If we could expose the real people behind these comments, we could gain power over them and stop them from spreading despair.”

“That's pretty dramatic.  You writing a piece here?”

“My monthly newsletter’s due today.”

“Can you keep me out of it?”

“Um,... that might be difficult.”

She sighs. “So if these trolls are so annoying, why not just ignore them.”

“Well, that’s solid advice. There’s a common phrase: ’Please Don’t Feed the Trolls.’”

“So don’t feed them.”

“Have you seen what they write in the comments section on EdHat, or Noozhawk?”

“I just read the articles.”

“Okay, check out this local SB Noozhawk article here.” I whip out my iPhone. “It’s about a serious car crash. Scroll down and read what PatrioticSBGunOwner62 writes.”

“Ooh. That’s harsh.”

“See what I mean? SB_Surfer69 said he ‘hoped the people in the car were okay.’ The troll replied, ‘if the accident didn’t kill them, ObamaCare will.’"

“And this is a Troll?”

“Definitely. It gets worse. There was an article last Fall about a teenager who was actually killed in a car accident. The trolls were invoking Darwin, said he was stupid or high, he was neither, and that he deserved what he got.”


“Sadly, yes. Unbelievable, right?  Good people are supposed to ignore that?”

“Why don’t they get banned?

“Not sure, but even if they did, they could reappear with a new fake name in a short time.”

“So how do you get rid of them?”

“Public shaming has had very limited success.”

“What if all online forums required you to register with your real name and address like Letters to the Editor used to?”

“That’s exactly what I think!”

“Honey, that would mean you’d have to let go of SpaceCowboy66, you realize.”

“Hmm… you’re right. I’m kind of fond of that. Especially for battling trolls.”

Before I have a chance to reflect futher, our 11-year old boy bursts through the door returning from school. “Hey Pops!”

“Hey, I was just telling Mama about trolls. She didn’t know they existed.”

“Boy, do they! You should see them comment on YouTube! Awful creatures. The Orcs are even worse. I just try to ignore them.”

“Am I really the last one in this family to become aware of the troll problem in our land?”

“It’s okay, Mama. Pops is kind of addicted to online commenting.”

My wife sighs a lot around her two boys. She does so once more as she turns to leave our conversation with a few words of advice. “Maybe you can use your newsletter this month to warn your clients about trolls and how to get rid of them.”

“My thoughts exactly, my love. My thoughts exactly.” 

At Mick’s Macs we’ll take care of Trolls, Fairies, Gremlins, Goblins, bugs, worms and any other gross thing that might be eating your Apple. Just give us a call to start the extermination process.

All the best,


P.S. Oh!  And if you find yourself with a Troll problem, here are 5 possible ways to get rid of them:

1). Don’t feed the Trolls. Ignore them. Don’t engage, don’t give them fodder for the fire. Trolls are attention seekers first and foremost.

2).Contact the editors or owners of the site they are posting on and down-vote them if you can. Suggest that the site may need a net nanny with banning powers and that people have to have an account that’s 30 days old before they can post anything. That makes it harder for them to appear with a new name once they’re banned. The site owner should have access to their IP address, which will tell you where they are posting from. Information is power.

3).  Endlessly restate your point of view (wear them down), but try not to become annoying to non-trolls in the process. The latter can be challenging.

4). Humorously misinterpret their statements as being in complete agreement with yours. “Yes, I’m so glad you agree with me! Thanks for seeing it my way.”

5). Praise the Troll in a facetious, over the top way, lure them off-guard and then sign off with something like, “Silly Troll. Tricks are for Kids!”

[The below comic is eerily familiar in our family]