December 15th, 2022
The history of philosophy is a history of trolls.
The 1975 is one of my favorite bands (and my absolute favorite band most days). We saw them play at The Armory last night and it was quite possibly the best show I have ever seen.
Like TikTok itself, I am obsessed with Matty Healy, the frontman of The 1975.
I read and watch a lot of interviews with Matty and, oddly, a lot of interviews ABOUT him. For example, I watched a Zane Lowe interview with Lewis Capaldi yesterday in which they talked about Matty at length.
They both agreed on something:
“He’s a troll!”
The term “trolling” is an integral piece of internet culture, or the lack thereof. I wanted to distill to its essence what I believe a “troll” is, and I came up with four words: “a person who provokes.”
On paper, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
The internet is a place that takes good ideas on paper, douses that paper in gasoline and throws the sheets into an active volcano.
Most trolls are bad, because the majority of the people who do the provoking are thoughtless, cowardly, all sorts of biased, have clear agendas and they’re generally slimy to the touch.
But when I was reading about the history of philosophy, it didn’t take me long to see that it is filled with trolls.
People who existed to provoke.
Provoke people to think. For themselves. About themselves. About others. About the world around them.
Those trolls provoked thoughtfully.
This is what people are talking about when they say modern discourse is dead.
Of course it is.
Nobody is thinking before they speak. Or type. God, especially before they type.
And this is why I love Matty Healy.
He’s a troll, but a classic one. He provokes, but he doesn’t run; he’s game to have an actual conversation with you, even if it’s only one you’re having with his art.
He reminds me to provoke.
Thoughtfully. With meaning.
Not for my own ends.
But to end all this thinking solely on my own.