Those who follow this blog regularly know that I have many controversial opinions and personal habits. I try to stay descriptive, not prescriptive, giving readers the benefit of deciding for themselves what to believe. Some people were so disturbed by my writing that they labeled me a troll.

I immediately became thoughtful and looked at it from their perspective. Examining only the written text, trolls and contrarians may appear indistinguishable to the untrained eye. Both swim upstream from popular opinion and common practice. Both intend to catalyze activity that would have otherwise not occurred. However, there are two key differences between trolls and contrarians: intent and context.

The intent of a troll is to incite anger and spark controversy with outcomes that often align to some ulterior motive. A troll's purpose is rooted in manipulation to convince people to think and act a certain way. As such, trolls choose their words carefully for maximum effect. In your newly formed rage, the troll usually tries to sell you something, usually an idea about a product, yourself, or the world. For these reasons, I consider all politicians (Government or corporate) to be trolls.

A contrarian seeks to expand horizons through dialogue. They don't tell you what to think, only what they think and why they think it. The best ones provide some explanation and examples behind their reasoning. Contrarians are often also trying to sell you something, like a new way of thinking or operating your business, but there isn't a backdrop of dishonesty. Worst case, they are selling a book or training course, but never a conspiracy theory backed by destructive rhetoric.

Trolling is malicious scheming designed to frustrate and divide. Contrarian opinions are designed to be thought provoking and constructive. It's really not that hard to see the difference. By definition, it's unlikely you'll frequently harmonize with contrarians; agreement is the exception, not the rule. This does not make us trolls.

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