Review: Troll Hunting by Ginger Gorman


Title: Troll Hunting: Inside the World of Online Hate and its Human Fallout

Author: Ginger Gorman

Published: April 16th 2019, Hardie Grant

Status: Read December 2019


My Thoughts:

“Words are a weapon – and a gateway to much greater harm.”

In 2013, journalist Ginger Gorman became the victim of an online witch hunt when a couple she had interviewed about the success of same sex adoption were arrested three years later on charges of producing and distributing child pornography. She was targeted by hateful tweets, subjected to death threats, doxxed, and threatened by hundreds of largely anonymous trolls. The experience was terrifying, but once the vitriol began to recede, Gorman became curious about the world of cyber hate and the trolls who fuel it.

In Troll Hunting: Inside the World of Online Hate and its Human Fallout, Gorman examines the phenomenon of trolling. The narrative, a mix of subjective and objective detail, research, and opinion, is accessible and fascinating, exploring its causes, and its effects.

Gorman’s focus is particularly on those she identifies as predator trolls, whose motives for their actions have little to do with their target, and everything to do with their own narcissistic desire to agitate, offend and degrade. In the hopes of understanding them she spoke with several trolls, even developing a relationship of sorts with a few, and shares her interviews with them. Unlike Gorman I wasn’t surprised to learn that trolls come from all walks of life, though they seem to be overwhelmingly young white males. Some trolls claim their actions are just for the ‘lulz’, others ascribe loftier motives to their behaviour, and then there are those who delight in humiliating and tormenting their targets, sociopaths and sadists for whom the Internet is a endless sea of victims. Few of them are willing to reflect on, admit to, or take responsibility for, the psychological, physical, and economic harm they cause when the anonymity of online discourse affords them the indulgence of socially inappropriate behaviour without consequence.

I have never had any doubt that trolling has real word consequences for the victims who become targets, no right-minded person should. Unfortunately it is taking too long for not only the law and law enforcement to recognise the damage it can inflict, and incite, but also many in wider society who still stubbornly reiterate the playground maxim “sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me”, despite evidence to the contrary.

I was perhaps expecting a more thorough psychological profile of trolls than is explored in this book, nevertheless Gorman provides important observations about trolling behaviour and motives generally. I agree in part with the conclusions she has drawn about its causes, though I still believe other issues are also significant contributors.

Providing valuable and thought provoking insights into the issue of cyberhate and trolling, Troll Hunting is a fascinating and perceptive read.


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4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Lindsi
    Dec 14, 2019 @ 03:35:27

    Sometimes words hurt more than a physical altercation. Bruises and scrapes will heal, but a person’s comments can burrow into your subconscious and stay with you for years. I haven’t heard of this book, but I like the concept and emphasis on trolling.

    Lindsi @ Do You Dog-ear? ☃💬

    Liked by 1 person


  2. Helen Murdoch
    Dec 14, 2019 @ 15:13:23

    Trolls are such an odd set of people. How do they enjoy being mean and hatefilled. Why does that get them off? Sounds like an interesting book.

    Liked by 1 person


  3. Verushka, an editor (@SydneyEditor1)
    Dec 15, 2019 @ 20:56:53

    Trolls. They think they can get away with anything and everything. I’m glad for books like this, shedding light on this all.

    Liked by 1 person


  4. Trackback: It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? #SundayPost #SundaySalon | book'd out

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