Summary of This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things

Mapping the Relationship between Online Trolling and Mainstream Culture

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This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things book summary
Trolls aren’t just mythical monsters hiding under bridges, as you’ll see in this contemporary cultural analysis of online trolling.


9 Overall

8 Importance

10 Innovation

9 Style


University professor Whitney Phillips examines the culture of online trolling, an antisocial activity many regard as unworthy of serious study. Her prism into this world surveys those US residents who revel in this online subculture and identify as members of it. She presents a complex, multilayered portrait of the mores, emotions and tactics of people who intentionally cause distress to others. She interviewed numerous trolls and directly participated in “trolldom” by opening herself up to attacks. Phillips writes with wit and clarity – especially for an academic. She links trolling to the larger culture and shows how these individuals, even in their most reprehensible actions, simply mirror attitudes and methods embraced by sensationalist mainstream media. She unflinchingly depicts trolls sexual, racial and scatological humor, which some readers may find offensive, as, indeed, the trolls intend. With that warning, getAbstract recommends this readable study to those intrigued by the relationship between the Internet and so-called real life.

In this summary, you will learn

  • Who trolls are and what they do;
  • How trolling holds up a mirror to behaviors and attitudes in mainstream culture;
  • How the pursuit of “lulz” – laughter at the expense of others – drives trolling; and
  • How lawmakers are responding to the issue.


“Defining Terms”
Trolls set out “to cause disruption and/or trigger or exacerbate conflict for the purposes of their own amusement.” The word “trolling” first appears, connected to online activity, in a 1992 entry in the Oxford English Dictionary. Trolls believe “nothing should...
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About the Author

Whitney Phillips is an assistant professor of literary studies and writing at Mercer University’s Penfield College.

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    David Bainbridge 1 year ago
    While there is hype around the networked society and the internet of things the dysfunctional aspects of the network socirety is seldom examined. The assumption is that when everything and everyone is connected that life will be improved ... well, perhaps. But the fact is that since the 1990's trolls have been with us and will continue to be with us. This abstract just provdies a brief summary of the book, but the book is well worth reading if you are interested in just one part of the sociological aspects of the dark underside of the networked society. The people described are part of that sociaety and they aren't going to just disappear ...

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