Hopefully you're not one, but you know the type.

They exist to torment people. They pick and pick and pick, causing angst among those around them.

They're empowered by a following of people who engage in their lunacy and are fueled by the vitriol against them.


You probably know them from a Facebook group page you frequent or a government meeting during the public comment. Maybe you work with one, or maybe you plan to vote for one.

UrbanDictionary.com says a "troll" is "One who posts a deliberately provocative message to a newsgroup or message board with the intention of causing maximum disruption and argument." 

Here's the thing: You fully expect someone to troll the comments sections on Facebook or to pepper an elected body with the inane. But one would think — hope — that the race for our nation's highest office would be free from the troll.

Well, it isn't. Donald Trump is a troll. And the country — or at least a significant enough portion of it — is sopping up the madness with a sponge.

His entire campaign has been one giant troll campaign: Say and/or do the most controversial thing he can conjure up, then sit back and watch the country take itself apart over it.

It's the same way it works on Facebook. "That guy" comes in and says something completely nuts. The rational among us recognize this and move on to the next comment.

But then, a response pops up. Then another. Then another. By the time you check back later, the thread has more than 200 comments.

The troll won. I can't really speak to the motivation of the troll, but he/she clearly gets something perverse out of all this. Where the troll succeeds — and this is where the learning opportunity is — is in exposing something.

For Trump, whether you love him or hate him, he's speaking to a segment of the population that most people don't want to acknowledge. Perhaps, even, people don't want to admit that part of themselves even exists. 

But then, someone gives voice to a thought. It's a thought you've had in the deep, dark recesses of your mind. Suddenly, you feel validated and are prattling on about making America great again, whatever that means.

This will subside, at least with regard to Trump. The early portion of presidential races is usually set aside for the lunatic fringe. Remember, Rick Santorum won Iowa four years ago.

So, maybe Trump will win Iowa, maybe he won't. He'll hang on for a while, and I suppose I'll give him credit for hanging on as long and as strong as he has.

But, eventually, much like on Facebook, the troll crawls back under its bridge. That'll happen soon enough with Trump.

The question is, as a country, are we better or worse for it?

Contact Managing Editor Adam Parkhouse at aparkhouse@thenewsdispatch.com or 1-219-214-4170.

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