Trolling Syndrome – Not Just a Namesake

So, baby Taimur Ali Khan Pataudi will probably go down the annals of “troll history” as being the youngest person to land in a controversy. His offense – Ah just a namesake! So, what’s in a name, by the way?

Each name has a unique story and is often inspired by many relics of inspiration and musings of the parents. Many years ago, Tipu Sultan was born to Hyder Ali and his wife after much longings and supplications. He was named after Saint Tipu Mastan Aulia of Arcot; of whom Hyder Ali and his wife were devout disciples. Though the name Tipu was influenced by his parents’ devotion to the Saint, the word primarily originates from the Sanskrit language and implies “resembling a tiger”. Tipu lived (and died) up to the mark of his name – a tiger in his sense and spirit. Apart from all other controversies shrouding the historical legend of Tipu Sultan today, nobody really seems to vitiate the issue of a Muslim ruler using a name originating from Sanskrit. Had he been named Nimr or Shujaa (both meaning Tiger in Arabic), would it have made any difference?

Likewise, in 2014, Imran Khan and Avantika Malik named their child Imara Malik Khan. Imara is a Swahili name meaning “strong and resolute”. Probably they could not find an Indian substitute for “strong and resolute” and decided to manage with a Swahili version instead. How insulting to India, isn’t it? Kajol and Ajay Devgun named their daughter Nysa – a Greek word meaning goal or a new beginning. They should have thought about Lakhshyaa, or Ajyanta, or Maryaada, or Vayuna; all Sanskrit equivalents of goal or Nysa. Madhuri Dixit named her son Raayan, an Arabic word meaning one of the Gates of the Paradise. She should have really thought before giving an Arabic name to her son, isn’t it? – Antinational? Sushmita Sen’s adopted daughter is named Alisah, which means noble in German. Sanjay Dutt’s children are named Shahraan and Iqra; Shahraan has Persian origin while Iqra in Arabic means to read. The list continues…

But wait a minute; if these star children were not trolled for having “anti-Indian” names, what’s the case with Taimur Ali Khan Pataudi? Well, you would probably say that the case against baby Taimur is his namesake, Taimur the Lame, the conqueror and plunderer who killed millions of Indians. A word of caution – if you believe so, you are acting under the influence of a personality disorder called Internet Trolling. Yes, you heard it right – it’s not just a namesake, it’s the trolling syndrome. Jennifer Golbeck, a computer scientist and professor at the University of Maryland in her article published on Psychology Today, cites the results of a study conducted on Internet trolls by a group of Canadian researchers. This study describes trolls as narcissists, psychopaths, and sadists who will lie, exaggerate, offend, and go to any extend to get a response. The study further asserts that “... the associations between sadism and Global Assessment of Internet Trolling (GAIT) scores were so strong that it might be said that online trolls are prototypical everyday sadists. … Both trolls and sadists feel sadistic glee at the distress of others. Sadists just want to have fun ... and the Internet is their playground!"

Of late, this trend of social media trolling has picked up a lot of substance in India – to the extent that it promises to set some very dangerous precedence. Callous trolling on any issue may often result from either well-designed social media propaganda or by leisure Internet trolls just having fun. Whichever the case, the sadistic glee that emanates from such episodes is largely irreparable. What’s hazardous is that it’s very easy for normal people to fall prey to it. Remember how some time back we all believed and proudly shared the story of Indian National Anthem being declared as the best national anthem in the world by the UNESCO? Until UNESCO itself had to clarify that no such declaration had been made by it –while it was too late for many of us to realize what a fool we had made about this.

Aversive trolling is just one of the symptoms of a rampant disease that seeks to undermine the legitimacy of our civil rights and liberties as citizens of the World (leave alone India). It has been omnipresent across the globe since long; only that advent of Internet and social media as a platform has augmented its proliferation recently. It works well without the Internet as well – so you may even get some Akhlaqs lynched and killed for eating mutton (“disguised” as beef) in the bid; no big deal. In most cases, it results from blatant incompetence and inferiority complex; attacking the commonsensical acumen and overpowering the logical thinking capacity of the individuals. More than anything, it is a lifestyle disease where a person devoid of a rationale engagement in his life seeks some sociological respite in being a part of sadistic pleasure of a perceived opponent. The instant and intensified pleasure derived out of this exercise may do nothing more than satiate their social libido momentarily; however, innocent individuals are ignobly ignorant to the fact. To top it all; many a times they are influenced to believe it all to be a part of nation building!

Nation building is often characterized by a national identity replete with strife, struggle, grit, determination, drive, and advancement of common social unity that emanates a positive aurora. Trying to achieve a national identity fabricated on the discomfort, torment, and persecution of a part of the populace leads to a populist treachery that negates the very essence of human identity – not just national identity. History is witness to a plethora of such fabrications where oppressors who took great pride in their oppressions – disguising them as nation building – perished into dust and ashes sooner or later, while the nations themselves triumphed. World shall remember Hitler and his German nationalism being the most blatant example of this treachery in the recent history. Taimur the Lame may or may not be one such historical precedent; and this can be further debated separately. Plausibly, being a simple namesake of Taimur the Lame does not necessarily make baby Taimur Ali Khan Pataudi a plunderer or assassin. However, this aptitude of indoctrinated trolling and seeking sadistic glee from it has all the potential to curdle our national identity; and worse, turn us into plunderers and assassins of the right of his parents to name their child as per their liking.

Beware, oh countrymen, lest we should be branded as prototypical everyday sadists (rhymes with Jihadists – but maybe just a coincidence!)…

Sharjeel Ahmad is MBA and an Economics graduate. He is an instructional designer by profession and is presently based in Saudi Arabia. He has keen interest in social, economic, and political issues facing Indian populace, with special emphasis on minority issues.