It was December 2010, and my plans were anything but simple: Grab the world by the horns, pull up my bootstraps, and make some kind of artistic statement that just might possibly quell my existential butthurt. That is, until Anonymous once again reared its head. I became obsessed! Here was some kind of mysterious cyberentity speaking truth to power, and that’s exactly the kind of thing I love.
In early January, I logged into AnonOps with the intention of confronting Anonymous about their use of imagery. For a group of “activists,” I felt it was a little bit on the threatening side and pointlessly destructive to their cause. As an artist, I wanted to help! However, I quickly found out this topic was taboo, and that discussion among this “collective” was strictly controlled, if not by a single individual, then by a loose-knit group of channel operators. Speaking about the wrong thing will get a person labeled a troll right quick, and trolls get banned.
Well, to hell with IRC. There were other places I could take this discussion, such as AnonNews and later Twitter. I could make it outrageous, viral, and rub their face in their own shit while they cried “I don’t smell a thing!” Hell, I had my own sad little satire blog to soapbox from, so why not use it? I embraced my role as a “troll,” and in many ways it was empowering. But I was not just playing a game of revenge, pissing off Anonymous in reprisal for their rejection. I was provoking discussion. Anons often said that infighting made them strong, but they still hated me and considered me a “shit-stirrer” and a “troll.” Like I cared.
I spent a truly TransHuman amount of time on the computer at this point, completely isolated myself from “reality,” and ultimately paid a horrible price. It cost me sanity, the trust of my friends, and my job. I picked up the pieces and put them back together, and I at least feel like a more mature person for it.
My “trolling” has earned a hesitant acceptance from many Anons, and maybe some of them finally “get it.” Maybe my history of writing viral “joke” press releases which accidentally turned out to be gems of “truth,” has even earned some respect. I’m not in this to “win” or “get one over” on anybody, except of course for Sabu and Barrett Brown. I want to sacrifice all the sacred cows and brazenly violate taboo. Ask the forbidden questions, generate discussion, and of course snag a lucrative book deal where I will tell all. This does not mean that I am just engaged in bullshit will to power. Do these interactions—deliberate provocation and ironic anti-propagandizing—make me a troll?