Sunday, December 22, 2013

Trolling: what is it?

Over the holidays, one has to answer questions from one's family, like what is "bitcoin" or "twerking" or "trolling". In this post, I define the latter.

Trolling is like this tweet in response to a recent picture from the moon:

I am, of course, echoing the fringe who argue that the original moon landings were fake because there were no stars in the photographs.

I got a lot of responses calling me an idiot, but zero tweets with the correct explanation. The reason you can't see starts is exposure time: if you leave the shutter open long enough for stars to show up, then the foreground moonscape will be completely washed out. Presumably, if the Chinese had taken an iPhone into space with the HDR settings, which takes two photos with different exposure lengths, one might be able to get both a good bright foreground and dim background stars in the same photograph. But sadly, the Chinese didn't have iPhones to send to the moon.

The payoff to trolling is responses like this one that gets the reason completely wrong:

As I explained trolling, my mother asked me "Shouldn't you be worried that potential customers may see this, and not do business with you, thinking you are stupid?". Well, the short answer is no, because any customer who would is a customer I wouldn't want anyway.

But what my mother really asked is "aren't you afraid of looking stupid?". And the answer to that question should always be "no". Raise your hand in class and ask your question. Dance like nobody's watching. Stop caring so much what people think. Success and happiness only comes from being willing to look stupid. A good way to practice this by actually being stupid. You have to get used to the naysayers. Even at your most brilliant, when you are changing the world, there will always be someone claiming you are an idiot, and that everyone knows what you are doing is stupid and wrong.

And so that is trolling.

No comments: