'It just makes me happy when I can make someone angry' - A special investigation into the dark world of trolling
A few parts that stuck out to me:
(Something about this comment seems over the top to me, like it's too much like the dialogue of an after school special or something.)Sarah, like Ben, attributed her trolling to years of bullying she suffered at school. "I dropped out of school in year nine," she said. "I suppose I'm an asshole to people because I’m carrying all this spitefulness around with me. I hurt people."
Psychologists have long attributed bad behaviour online to "deindividuation" - the feeling people get when they think they are anonymous.
"Social distance can cause a 55-year-old climate change sceptic with a job and a mortgage to behave like a spastic donkey with strange malicious behaviour," said Professor James Heathers, of the University of Sydney.
He said the quality of online conversations in general seemed to be worsening by the day, and had now turned into a competition to see who can yell "urrgggh lame" the loudest.
"There's no turn-taking, or reacting like there is in face-to-face communication," he said. "The conversational structure is completely broken and there’s no thoughtful consideration of issues."
Psychiatrist Dr Tanveer Ahmed said people who troll may well feel a sense of regret, guilt or shame afterwards but mostly they rationalise their behaviour.The "You're far more likely to be a troll if you’re a relative weakling elsewhere" comment surprises me just a little. I mean, I really haven’t crossed the path of many people irl who behave like some individuals here in this forum- like at a coffee house or something, people won’t feel as entitled to join your table (without ever having met you) and get really argumentative with little or no regard for how it alters the tone of the conversation- so I guess it makes sense. I guess I assumed they were out there and I just avoided them irl, it didn’t occur to me it’d be the people who are there but go unnoticed (especially since I’m often the quiet/unnoticed person myself).He said that people don't feel the need to moderate their behaviour when they were online.
"The ability to say 'hi how's it going' to people we dislike helps us function in society, but that facade isn’t required online and often the first thoughts that come to mind – thoughts that would be unacceptable in other forums – are the first ones we bang up into a comment section on the web."
He said a sense of power was important to how people behaved online. "You're far more likely to be a troll if you’re a relative weakling elsewhere," he said.
"The internet is kind of a Wizard of Oz type setting, where people can feel big, whereas in another social setting they can be, well, pissheads frankly."
Also, question for those who have participated in online forums for a long time: have you noticed a difference? I’ve only been coming to this forum for a couple of years, and this is really the only online forum I’ve regularly visited. So I’m wondering if others have noticed a difference, if ‘the quality of online conversation’ does seem to be worsening.