“WaddleDee” finally produced an explanation of sorts.

Ophelia Benson @OpheliaBenson

@chsvns But my question is WHY is it fun.

WaddleDee @chsvns

@OpheliaBenson Because it is a deviant act that I can get away with.

Ok let’s think about that. A deviant act – how is it a deviant act, and why?

Telling people they’re ugly (fat, old, disgusting, etc) is reprobated because it’s seen as cruel. It’s rightly seen as cruel. Isn’t it? Is that at all controversial? If it’s not controversial, should it be controversial? Is it the kind of callous, brutal, indifferent “seen as” that other brands of conventional wisdom have been shown to be? Should we question that view just as we question racism or homophobia or sexism? Should we start a new social justice movement to liberate everyone from antiquated and mistaken taboos on telling people they’re ugly? Would that lead to a more just, verdant, and peaceful world?

No. It’s conventional wisdom that it’s very bad (and “deviant”) to tell people they’re ugly, for good reasons.

So the explanation tells us that it’s fun to violate that taboo if you can get away with it. But that still doesn’t answer the underlying question.


  1. ismenia says

    Any of us COULD behave like that online. Most of us don’t. Perhaps he thinks everyone is the same as him.

  2. moach . says

    My internal auto-interpreter read all of WaddleDee’s responses as: I am a pathetic coward that would love to spend my days being cruel and vindictive to everyone I meet, but people would confront me and my shitty behavior. Thanks be to internets for giving me free reign to anonymously be the douchebag I have always aspired to be.

  3. says

    Thank you for the socks Bjarte! 😀

    moach that seems to be exactly right – WaddleDee’s latest reply apparently means just that. I “Deviant? How so?” The reply –

    “Because there are negative repercussions.”

    So, yeah. He can’t do that in ordinary life because it would hurt relatives or friends or both, but he can do it online, so whee whoopee what fun.

  4. maudell says

    I would go further: why is it a crueler insult to a woman? I’m sure TF’s fanboys would find it hilarious if someone called him ugly. And he’s not exactly close to the standards of beauty.

    Of course, it’s because the highest standard for a woman is to be WaddleDee boner worthy. Who cares about women doing useful work for society or adding to the body of knowledge? The true Rational Man only deals with Important Things like the boner scale. Enough of these women who don’t care about her WaddleDee beauty rating. It is destroying the order of things as they should be.

  5. chigau (違う) says

    In another time and place WaddleDee would have put bags of burning dogshit on your step and run away laughing.
    Now we have the internet.

  6. karmacat says

    Wow, that’s a pathetic attempt at deviancy;. I bow to the WaddleDee, the MASTER OF DEVIANCY, with the really stupid name. He has certainly “waddled” into stupidity

  7. screechymonkey says

    Ophelia @4:

    So, yeah. He can’t do that in ordinary life because it would hurt relatives or friends or both, but he can do it online, so whee whoopee what fun.

    Ah, another #bravehero

  8. carlie says

    Doesn’t “deviant” also imply outside the normal? Yet calling someone ugly is so, so pedestrian. It’s one of the first taunts you come up with as a 3 year old. It’s the opposite of shocking. It’s boring and unoriginal and stereotypical and unsurprising, and nothing like “deviant”.

  9. says

    I was a bully magnet in grade school and I’m pushing sixty now. I have thought a lot about this for decades. Probably, an unhealthy amount. I can’t say that my observations are any more valid than anyone else’s, but here goes.

    The anonymity factor of trolling has been stated over and over. Even a small layer of perceived (even imagined) anonymity reduces impulse control. Your nice neighbor will scream “fuck you” and flip off your kids when they are in their car, even though you can see them through the windows, they might even roll those windows down without losing that sense of protection. Other people become assholes on the phone. This only marginally relevant, because most trolls are calculated, not impulsive. Still, the sense of anonymity brings out the ugliness in some people in a way that is not related to impulse control. I can’t explain it.

    I think, for some, it’s plain old bullying (on this point, I will claim a degree of authority). Bullying is all about claiming power. The classic example is something I describe as pain rolling downhill. The working man is chewed out by his boss, but can’t say anything because he needs the job. He feels powerless. He regains his self-worth by exercising his power over someone weaker, let’s say his kid. The kid goes to school the next day and attacks someone weaker. The kid is called a bully, but he’s already third in the chain of stealing power. The bully victim goes home and kicks his dog, or writes violent fiction or whatever. This is the easily seen classical case, which is reclaiming lost power. (This is he end of my claim of authority. From here on we’re back to speculation on my part.)

    I think there are other, more subtle forms of claiming power that don’t involve a previous loss of power. They are more about rising above a feared mediocrity. The claimant wants to stand out in some way. Showing off is one way. Rising up by pushing others down is another. Then there are those who hope to gain entry to a perceived better group by disparaging the group they hope to leave (I have a huge theory of political alignment based on this that I won’t go into now. Lucky you.) This enough about the bullying aspect. In the end, I think bullying has very little to do with trolls like WaddleDee (by the way, does WaddleDee ever say it’s a male? My original impulse was to apply a feminine pronoun.)

    I think WaddleDee’s “deviance” is, obviously, driven by the anonymity factor. Behind that shield is not primarily a bully. WaddleDee is less motivated by power than by thrill. I think it admits that. It commits what it admits is a “deviant act” because it can get away with it. In the Tweets we’ve seen, it doesn’t even express a real interest in the issue at hand. It hurts out of curiosity to see if hurting will create some kind of sense of aliveness in its, otherwise, flat existence.

    WaddleDee is a sociopath, possibly even a psychopath. While most trolls show some sociopathic characteristics, I think WaddleDee is so far out of the human mainstream that it is not a useful subject to study. No data we would gain from studying WaddleDee is valid for understanding any other human being. WaddleDee should be isolated and blocked and allowed to shrivel and fade away in its own emotionless wasteland. We should save our energy for examining meaningful examples of the human race.

  10. says

    Because it is a deviant act that I can get away with.

    This is a strategic statement, not an ultimate reason. This is why he does it in the place that he has. A place where there will be no repercussions they fear. This is not why he even wants to do it to begin with. The squirming continues.

    If you are lucky pride as refusing you the last word may keep him coming.

  11. Minnow says

    Wow, the power of reasonable conversation. It comes down to a failure of sympathy, doesn’t it? I guess people like this just think that some feelings, those that belong to people with some power or profile, just aren’t as feelingy as others, and I think that is quite a widespread thing.

    It poinst up one of the problems with the recent cultural tendency to value ‘transgression’ so highly.

  12. says

    Yes, I’ve always been suspicious of the use of “transgressive” as inherently a hooray-word. It depends on what’s being transgressed, dunnit.

    Very good essay, John McKay. And no, you’re right about “he” – I avoided assuming “he” in another post but not in this one.

  13. johnthedrunkard says

    Dick Cheney is ugly, fat, and old.

    Would he be less evil if all three statements were false? Or does the glamor of wealth and power overwhelm both kinds of negative observation?

    Of course, in this culture it is just about impossible to find a female example to match Cheney.

    As another ‘bully magnet’ in my childhood, I have to say I immediately assumed that WD was male.

  14. talynknight says

    Karmacat @8

    I bow to the WaddleDee, the MASTER OF DEVIANCY, with the really stupid name. He has certainly “waddled” into stupidity

    Now, now, no need to bring the Waddledee’s into this. They cannot help it if some jackass stole their name. Nor can they help waddling with their small little feet and big round bodies.

  15. rnilsson says

    WaddleDee @chsvns — come on, how hard is this ‘nym to decipher? That and the attitude simply screams pimply boy. Likely uncertain of his sexuality, or his potential prowess in the field, so turns to safe havens on ‘net.

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