American Psycho author Bret Easton Ellis is what’s known in online circles as a world-class troll. For the uninitiated, a troll is someone who expresses a controversial and often contrarian opinion in order to get a rise out of people and draw attention to himself. If someone is widely acclaimed, perhaps having just won a Nobel Prize, the troll might rail against her; if something is dismissed across the board, the troll will defend it. While a healthy dose of skepticism about universally agreed upon views can often make for snappy commentary, a troll is so consistent in his or her zeitgeist-aversion as to become predictable, seemingly disingenuous and generally terrible. Unfortunately, Bret Easton Ellis is but one troll lurking in a crowded space beneath the cyber-bridge. Furthermore, trolling is but one of many ways in which to annoy others online. Most of these insidious methods are chronicled in a new series of books by Rainbow Brown.
As you may have inferred from the name “Rainbow,” though, this author is not real, and neither is this series of self-help books about not being a jerk online. However, there is most certainly a need for such books, and in their absence, we’ll have to make do with these mock-up book covers, which diagnose many of the different ways in which participating in social media puts one in the crosshairs of all manner of goodwill-assassins. Created by writer and designer Sean Tejaratchi for his website, LiarTown USA, each book in the Rainbow Brown series has a title beginning with “The Big Book of Online…” that goes on to describe various facets of Internet obnoxiousness. Aside from Trolling, Tejaratchi also calls out Celebrity Worship, Memes, and Communication & Context.
Each cover has the weathered look of something that might have been languishing in a dank corner of the public library for ages. The highlight of these covers, though, is invariably the subtitle. It is here that Tejaratchi so succinctly sums up the essence of each problematic behavior that he renders an actual book superfluous. Consider his Big Book of Online Self-Loathing subtitle: “Why turning your life into an attention-whoring minstrel show of theatrical depression and misery probably isn’t the best move.” Although the book does not exist, one wonders whether a Twitterer exhibiting these behaviors would have the resolve to continue doing so after reading such an indictment.
Have a look through the other covers in the slides above, and leave a comment below if Rainbow Brown left out any social media behaviors you wish to see addressed.