Question: What if, instead of people replacing 'trolling' with 'doing jokes', you realised the definition to most people is nearly synonymous? While trolling is antagonistic it is often done in a way that is supposed to be funny, after all.
Hussie: The terms are not synonymous.
Where is trolling involved when Dave makes self-aware references to the callback heavy style of the story's construction? Where is the intent to agitate? There is no editorial subtext. There is nothing to read between the lines. There is no veiled repudiation, and I am not saying "suck it bitches!" to those who disagree with the callback saturation (those people don't even exist). It is merely a couple of lines of dialogue which are silly and self referential. It is a joke.
It is also not trolling when I leave something on a cliffhanger. It is standard dramatic practice. It is also fairly unavoidable when there are many story threads running at once. You have to switch to others at some point. You also cannot answer every question at once or distribute every payoff when they are demanded, or a very nonlinear story would become very linear very quickly. It is additionally unavoidable because there are few occasions when you don't want to know what happens next. Hence every switch of focus begins to resemble a cliffhanger. This pattern has also been brought to attention through self aware humor, a la 5x cliffhanger combo gags and such. This does not count as trolling either. These are yet more gags of self reference.
There are some moments when trolling comes into play. When tension mounts in a scene and we are being lead to expect something significant, and then you read the word "psyche", that is clearly a form of trolling. When I am dressed up as a troll, and copying large volumes of text into the narrative specifically to spite you, the reader, and I am saying "I am trolling you right now by doing this" it is safe to say you are being trolled. And even this flagrant gesture is one step removed from the act of genuine trolling, through the partition of satire. The entire concept of trolling has been folded into the story as another source of raw material for absurd kinds of exploitation, like computer science, alchemy, sprawling chess metaphors, and suit-based alien romance. This does not mean every joke is an act of trolling, or meta-trolling. In fact, very few are. When you read a simple self-referential joke or have your expectations subverted in in some way and say HUSSIE'S TROLLING US AGAIN, you sound silly. You sound like you don't understand what trolling is, or what I'm actually doing here.