It is estimated that almost half of the world’s population is online. Surely, it would be hard to find a person not online in developed countries. One of the most popular aspects of being online is having the ability to access social media platforms.
Social media is so popular that one in three online users are on this medium. This online platform has given people the opportunity to share stories, thoughts, photographs, art, and much more. Positive conversations and effective political activism has been born through social media, but there is always another side to the story.
Social media has also created a virtual environment where people get to wear masks for their social identities. In essence, some people have begun to use their virtual identities to engage in antisocial behavior.
It is no secret that one of the most devastating behaviors that comes from online usage is cyberbullying. This social affliction has plagued people for some time. It has gathered much attention, especially after teenagers came out to confess the kind of damage it has caused. School officials, psychiatrists, and even politicians began to take notice of the problem. Regrettably, some of the people affected by cyberbullying have actually developed mental issues or even committed suicide.
It is great that cyberbullying has been getting a lot of attention lately. This is good as it may lead to solutions, but there is another aspect of it that deserves attention, too.
Those who have read a few articles online or watched a video might have noticed the comment section where online users speak their minds. Most of the time, the comments are pleasant or encouraging, but some comments are very negative to the point that rational readers become offended. This form of cyberbullying is known as online trolling.
Some people troll post images, comments, or messages that are meant to provoke a response or get under the skin of others. It seems a troll wants to instigate anger or equally upsetting behavior. Most of those who are paying attention to this type of behavior notice that those who troll attempt to make themselves a part of the group where they are posting, but their real intention is to antagonize.
The people who attempt to antagonize others usually use language that is hurtful, politically incorrect, or racially motivated. Those that respond to these posts are sometimes motivated by their own desire to defend the people the trolls are attacking, but this is all in vain. The fact of the matter is that trolls are just looking to provoke while they sit back and amuse themselves. In essence, they find it amusing to set fire to a building just to watch the aftermath.
A survey was conducted to find out how many Americans have engaged in trolling, and it seems that it is more than a quarter of the population.
Experts note that online harassing behavior such as cyberbullying or trolling are usually the outcome of issues such as depression or low self-esteem. These psychological issues also provoke offline bullying, which is the reason the two are often compared.
Still, it is very easy to see that there is a major difference between offline bullying and online trolling. The amount of trolls and their sheer disregard of others is simply not matched by offline harassment, making it a grave concern.
Who are These Trolls?
Trolls are described as mythical creatures with inhumane tendencies, which seems to fit online trolls. These people take on fake identities to torment strangers just for kicks. Their secret identity gives them the freedom to victimize people they do not know.
Offline bullying does stem from psychological issues, and the bully usually targets specific people who mirror something that makes him or her uncomfortable. This is completely different online because the victims are strangers, which makes this harder to understand.
There are many online organizations that are trying to battle this problem such as anti-troll.org and the Zero Trollerance online group. Organizations like these are trying to act and do something positive, but the truth is that trolling continues, and it causes divisiveness among online users.
It is clear to see that online trolls are trying to take away the pure enjoyment that the world wide web provided.
Has a Trolling ‘Type’ Been Identified?
This is a hard question to tackle because there is an answer, but it is not necessarily concrete. Most experts would say that trolls likely have traits that fall under the “dark tetrad” set of traits. This includes traits such as narcissism, psychopathy, Machiavellianism, and sadism. All of these traits are quite scary, and it makes sense why experts would link online trolls to them.
It is generally understood that these traits are related to social manipulation and deception. People who develop these types of traits are ruthlessly looking to advance themselves in this society or have no empathy.
Narcissism, for example, usually stems from feelings of superiority and ego while psychopathy is linked to impulsiveness and callousness. People who exhibit Machiavellianism have been found to easily manipulate or exploit those around him or her. Of course, sadists get a kick out of inflicting pain or suffering on others.
A study found that people who have some of the traits mentioned above are more likely to be online trolls. Sadism seems to be the trait that is most associated with trolling. Now, this study does not answer the question fully because many trolls do not exhibit these traits, meaning there is much more work to do.
In simplest terms, trolls are looking to provoke. This means they need interaction in order to feel satisfied. In essence, the motivation is reward.
Now, there are two types of rewards out there, one is typical and the other atypical.
Typical social rewards are done with positive interactions where the outcome is praise or something similar. This is the reason many people engage in helpful or altruistic behavior. Everyone wants to feel that warmth in their hearts or that feeling that something good has been done, but there is an atypical social reward as well.
This atypical reward is negative in nature, which is sometimes called “negative social potency.” It is likely that people are aware of these types of rewards but usually try to ignore that they exist. In essence, it is linked to people who enjoy making people angry or having the opportunity to embarrass others.
Attempting to admit that this dark side of humanity exists is hard, but it is reality, and social media platforms have definitely helped highlight this truth more than ever before.
Linking Personality to Drive
A small group of adults gathered to take a questionnaire that measured their level of the traits mentioned earlier. The group consisted of 75.9 percent of women and 24.10 percent of men. The questions were formulated in an attempt to obtain their desire for negative social rewards.
Of course, the results showed that psychopathy and sadism were the greatest precursors to online trolls. The study also found that men were far more likely to engage in such behavior than women.
The survey also revealed that people were more likely to engage in trolling if they received a certain psychological high from negative social rewards. It was clear that the psychological makeup of a troll is partly made up of personality traits, but something else is more important: To a troll, atypical rewards are like a drug.
Understanding that most trolls are getting a high off of people who are offended or those who talk back means that there is one sure way to battle their behavior, which is to ignore it.
A person simply needs to withhold reactions to trolls like one would withhold a drug from an addict.
This is likely not going to stop all troll behavior because it would require every single person to stop reacting to a troll’s insensitive comments, but it should help diminish their desire to troll.
It is in our experience best to ignore your attackers and work with our firm to fix and repair your reputation.
Source: Profile Defenders