Wednesday, 18 May 2016


Jessica, who is certainly not naïve and speaks from a background of three decades of clinical psychology, was busy explaining to me over a cappuccino and a shared slice of lemon drizzle cake, that she viewed me as gullible in some respects. I asked her three times what exactly she was referring to and she looked slightly nervous before venturing that there were times when I behaved like a simpleton. `Take this business of Internet Trolls,’ she was now throwing caution to the winds and I knew I was going to end up being offended. I had just explained to her that I had been forced to Google the definition of the term Internet Troll only days ago when somebody suggested I might be one. The problem seemed to be that I had inadvisedly posted a supportive comment of our illustrious Prime Minister, Mr. John Key, into the very heart of a discussion regarding his many failings. The unanticipated savagery that followed had startled me. Later, with the definition of `Troll’ safely under my belt I was still wondering why it was OK for them to berate me for expressing a barely political viewpoint but definitely not OK for me to behave in an even vaguely similar manner. A nasty incident but nevertheless one that had afforded a modicum of technical learning; as a result I had absorbed some interesting facts about Trolls. I watched Jessica dispose of the remaining Lemon Drizzle crumbs with her forefinger and asked her if she knew what a RIP Troll was. She nodded but I was going to explain anyway. `An especially spiteful version of the beast,’ I said somewhat self- importantly, as one does as the holder of new information, `They like to place malicious comments on tributes to the dead – their aim seems to be simply to cause pain to others.’ She shrugged and said that it was certainly easy to heap emotional hurt upon the newly bereaved and added that such spite often came from unexpected quarters –an erstwhile friend or a neighbor, sometimes even a relative. There was a slightly awkward silence and she added that venomous individuals were everywhere, not just on the internet – they lurked in the corners of even the most ordinary families. We were in agreement once more. We ordered more coffee.

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