Let me first understand you, I [Socrates] replied. Justice, as you say, is the interest of the stronger. What, Thrasymachus, is the meaning of this? You cannot mean to say that because Polydamas, the pancratiast, is stronger than we are, and finds the eating of beef conducive to his bodily strength, that to eat beef is therefore equally for our good who are weaker than he is, and right and just for us?
That’s abominable of you, Socrates; you take the words in the sense which is most damaging to the argument.
–Plato, The Republic, ~380 B.C.E.
The problem, or perhaps the power, of polysemy is illuminated online. Even the most thoughtful responses can be subsumed by the hivemind and rendered impotent, and the worst arguments can win out. Trolls refer to online shit-disturbers: people who deliberately try to provoke others in the hopes of garnering an outraged response. Trolls employ a perversion of the Socratic method in which they make mimic the form of argumentation with absurd content, as with graduate students who pare down their research projects into a single sentence. Dialogue, the prized form of communication in democracies, is rendered ridiculous by the trolls’ antics. But trolls also point out the sometimes tyrannical function of dialogue–forcing the other to converse on your terms–and some use it as a tactic of resistance.