Dana makes an interesting comparison between online trolls and physical publishers who publish books with the primary motive of creating controversy rather than providing real information, or “troll-like behavior in contemporary life,” as she refers to it. Indeed, it seems that troll-like behavior has taken an uptick in mainstream media in the past decade or two, most notably to me in the rise of right-wing television and radio as well as cheap talk shows. I think it comes down to the fact that people consume media for one of two primary reasons, to obtain information, or to be entertained (not to say that the two are mutually exclusive, but often one is the primary motivation). The problem is, far more people (at least in the US) want to be passively entertained than to proactively absorb real information, making entertainment a larger market, leading to more media being created for that audience. The danger is when one is masked for the other, as in the rise of entertainment news ala Fox News, Dateline, and even CNN in recent years – as well as with books that feign to be credible sources of information but are really trolling for readers and profits.
It’s only when people realize this distinction and become aware that the “news and information” that they are consuming is really entertainment can they end their addiction to it. So more conversation around this topic is a good thing.