With the rise of online harassment and the flood of media attention that it brings, a new career has been born – the professional troll: a person who takes their online persona into the real world. Take Piers Morgan, for example. Although he may have gained success in the way of TV shows and hosting opportunities due to the attention he garners, we cannot forget that he is no better than any other sad and talentless troll.
Trolling is a status enhancing activity designed to attract attention and upset many, in order to allow the troll to feel important, perhaps much more so than they would in their typical lives. It is an activity that requires no skill other than the ability to be obnoxious, and quenches such a desperate thirst for attention that the troll is willing to accept positive or negative attention, as long as they are at the center of it. For some individuals, it is a malicious desire to put down others who succeed in ways in which they cannot, so that their victims feel as miserably oppressed as themselves. The unfortunate logic of this is that by dragging a person down, in turn, they won’t feel quite so bad about themselves.
In the past few weeks, these characteristics have been particularly evident in Piers Morgan. His foul online behaviour towards various Love Island contestants broke from the virtual world to the real world when, on ‘Good Morning Britain’, he attempted to humiliate Hayley Hughes by asking her to explain Pythagorus’Theorem. Piershad previously made no secret of his belief that the contestants were the “stupidest people in the world. Despite the fact that his attempt hugely backfired when Piers also got the answer wrong, we cannot ignore his crude and callous effort to try and make a person feel less intelligent than himself. Putting down others clearly gives Piers a sense of empowerment – an emotional payoff that is expected of a troll, and is often driven by low self esteem.
In another interview with Love Island contestant Rosie Williams, Piers condemned her decision to leave her law career in order to appear on the show, labelling her a “halfwit”. He repeatedly mentioned his disapproval of her choices – implying that his opinion was incredibly important. Piers’behaviour towards Rosie summed up a key characteristic of all trolls: an unhealthy value of other people’s opinions. His arrogant belief that his opinion should even matter to Rosie showed that he obviously has a high regard for what other people have to say.
Piers has previously owed his unpleasant persona to being “the devil incarnate”, but when we analyse him for what he really is – a professional troll – his actions no longer seem so bold and rebellious. The reality of the situation is that Piers is not better than any ordinary troll simply because he is paid to spit his vulgarities, and to make a career out of such a talentless, unfulfilling action makes him seem rather pathetic. The foundations of his current career are built on an unhealthy value of the opinions of others and a clear superiority complex, which is a much sadder existence than that of the people he chooses to tear down. As with any troll, there are deeper issues beneath Piers’venomous exterior, and for that reason, I feel sorry for him.