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The Northerner

Trolls aren’t myth

Linda Lawrence

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Brian O’Neill, a Northern Kentucky University senior, majoring in political science, is a troll. No, not the garden statue variety, but part of an ever growing trend of Internet trolls.

In December 2007, the “Wall Street Journal Online,” sent reporter Timothy Farnam, to be embedded with O’Neill, as part of their report on the phenomena. Farnam likened O’Neill to a troll of Norse mythology: a creature that snatches away one’s baby and leaves its own in its place.

According to the report, Internet trolls are political bloggers, who leave messages on a political candidate’s own Web site, which oppose the candidate and their views.

“He (Farnam) spent an entire day, went to class with me and hung out with me throughout the day and through the whole evening,” O’Neill said.

The report, available on O’Neill’s blog, thepoliticalguy.blogspot.com, features a video of O’Neill, narrated by Farnam in a solemn, National Public Radio like monotone.

Although O’Neill thought the report was good, he felt it made him appear a little partisan by focusing only on his attacks on democratic candidates. He is, by his own account, an equal-opportunity Internet marauder.

“I thought it was fair,” O’Neill said. “But of course, they could’ve also said that I was permanently banned from some republican Web sites to make it look even.”

O’Neill was alluding to being kicked off of Republican Mitt Romney’s site. “If you’re not praising the candidate, or if you’ve found something dirty about the candidate, they kick you off,” he said, not being specific about the reason for his exile.

According to Farnam, there are over 40,000 English-language political blogs, and trolling is a major disruption for political candidates.

Trolls, like O’Neill, are sometimes banned from the site, but reappear by setting up accounts in different names.

O’Neill is a full-time student at NKU and works 20 to 30 hours as a bartender at The Madison in Covington.

But he still finds time to troll the Internet, perusing the “Drudge Report,” “Politico” and “Evans-Novak Policy Report,” in order to pickup tidbits of vitriol about the candidates.

Why does he do it? He loves an intellectual argument and believes that people should be less inhibited by political correctness.

“I want people to be outspoken,” O’Neill said. “We need more leaders in this world and fewer followers. I’m probably the most politically incorrect person there ever was.”

After he graduates this spring he plans to get his master’s degree and then find a job working for either political party.

“I actually have a life. This is more of a hobby until after November,” O’Neill said.

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The Independent Student Newspaper of Northern Kentucky University.
Trolls aren’t myth