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Internet Trolling


Sotha
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Intersting stuff over here:

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0191886914000324

 

Abstract

In two online studies (total N = 1215), respondents completed personality inventories and a survey of their Internet commenting styles. Overall, strong positive associations emerged among online commenting frequency, trolling enjoyment, and troll identity, pointing to a common construct underlying the measures. Both studies revealed similar patterns of relations between trolling and the Dark Tetrad of personality: trolling correlated positively with sadism, psychopathy, and Machiavellianism, using both enjoyment ratings and identity scores. Of all personality measures, sadism showed the most robust associations with trolling and, importantly, the relationship was specific to trolling behavior. Enjoyment of other online activities, such as chatting and debating, was unrelated to sadism. Thus cyber-trolling appears to be an Internet manifestation of everyday sadism.

 

End remarks:

The Internet is an anonymous environment where it is easy to seek out and explore one’s niche, however idiosyncratic. Consequently, antisocial individuals have greater opportunities to connect with similar others, and to pursue their personal brand of “self expression” than they did before the advent of the Internet. Online identity construction may be important to examine in research on trolling, especially in terms of antisocial identity and its role in trolling behavior. The troll persona appears to be a malicious case of a virtual avatar, reflecting both actual personality and one’s ideal self . Our research suggests that, for those with sadistic personalities, that ideal self may be a villain of chaos and mayhem – the online Trickster we fear, envy, and love to hate: the cyber-troll.

Clipper

-The mapper's best friend.

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I heard about a study suggesting trolls were just jerks interacting online a few weeks ago, that might've been related to one of these.

 

I know it's the scientific method, but cracks me up that studies are done to determine that people who are jerks face to face, or on the phone, or in a written letter, are also jerks "online". But then I saw a lot of studies about Second Life which revealed people behave like people in a virtual/online environment (duh, where would they learn other behaviors that they'd never been taught?)

 

It also amuses me that using a jargon term, "internet troll" seems to cause them to forget that "jerk", "a-hole", "meanie", were terms used to describe these people and their personalities/behaviors long before.

 

Trolls reveling in each others' behavior is no different than childhood bullies forming gangs to boost their egos at the expense of individuals.

 

One thing that I think has come to light for many people, is recognizing that chronological age has no relevance to mature behavior. The online medium has brought together more disparate age ranges (and example would be an MMO group, where members may be in the single digits all the way through senior citizens), and those in the younger end often behave in a more mature fashion than their parents or "grown ups".

"The measure of a man's character is what he would do if he knew he never would be found out."

- Baron Thomas Babington Macauley

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"Impact Factor: 1.807" And here I am, writing an article about industrial restructuring in Upper Silesia for a zero-impact journal...

Come the time of peril, did the ground gape, and did the dead rest unquiet 'gainst us. Our bands of iron and hammers of stone prevailed not, and some did doubt the Builder's plan. But the seals held strong, and the few did triumph, and the doubters were lain into the foundations of the new sanctum. -- Collected letters of the Smith-in-Exile, Civitas Approved

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I think there are two types of trolls, those that like to make people angry, a form of physical bullying(childish bullying). I seen people do it, those that are effected by the behaviour, don't seem to know they are being trolled. The second type throws a spanner into an idea that isn't concrete, causing crack's in a person's preceived notion of reality, causing the person to get into a insercure state and response. Then again, I guess trolling can be anything that makes someone angry. It could apply to pretty much anything. I guess it is an art. But the bullying types are total idiots. I guess that's sadism.

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Everybody's got a bit of troll in them. If somebody sets themselves up for a funny jab most people will take the opportunity because, well, it's funny. Being aggressive isn't really a form of trolling, it's just being a tool. Trolling usually just takes the form of baiting and getting somebody irritated for the sake of laughing at them, which is a grey area because it's generally quite funny seeing somebody get flustered, it really just depends on how malicious the person doing it is and whether or not it's a friendly environment.

 

A lot of people don't realise they're doing it, actually. Some are just out for drama while others can't stand to let a debate drop without a resolution on their side. They'll restart arguments and post bait without doing it on purpose, and then usually end up feeling persecuted because people respond to it. You can tell the difference quite easily, and there are examples of both in this community. Once you can tell the difference, you can pick up on the latter and ignore the former because one is out for debate and the other is out for shenanigans. Still, the types who post bait without intending to are usually inherently childish confrontationalists anyway, because nothing happens entirely by accident.

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I'll take your bait here. ;-)

 

I believe this might be conflating teasing and trolling.

 

Teasing is a behavior that brings people together, shares common ground, and strengthen bonds, often humor/funny is a component.

 

Trolling most don't find funny, only a subset of the population with certain personality traits (as studies have shown). It's done at someone's expense to boost the ego of the "troll". The troll might find it funny.

 

Or those who enjoy schadenfreude. But many don't find pain or hurt amusing, much less intentionally trying to bring it about in others.

 

Posting a trolling post wouldn't activate the pleasure centers of my brain, while it does for sadists.

 

...because nothing happens entirely by accident.

 

Well, kind of, as people react to the behaviors of others. Which is why relationships (of all kinds/degrees) get stuck in ruts despite intentions. One person has a typical reaction, based on their personality, how they were socialized and how their parents responded, which results from the stimulus provided by another. They don't necessarily intend it, and sometimes see it coming but feel powerless to stop it.

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"The measure of a man's character is what he would do if he knew he never would be found out."

- Baron Thomas Babington Macauley

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I believe this might be conflating teasing and trolling.

 

Trolling is just saying something to get a rise out of somebody. It can be done in a light-hearted, teasing manner; just simple irony that everybody can pick up on and laugh at, basically like a celebrity roast but a little less severe. Some people will get offended by it and end up all passive-aggressive about it, but they're just the prudish type who were brought up in cotton wool. On the other hand, there are people who troll just to get people angry or make easy discussion a huge pain in the ass to pursue. They're the kind of people who can rarely be constructive, and instead default to being destructive. They'll pop up all over the place, saying the same shit over and over and never changing their approach at all. It makes people feel useless, and that futility is what gets people mad because no matter how they phrase it they'll repeat themselves. That can be intentional trolling or just ignorance/inability to listen and consider what others have to say because your have your own opinion.

 

There's a huge difference between enjoying Schadenfreude and being a sadist. There's some overlap, but saying that sadists enjoy trolling posts is too absolute. The article is saying that people who enjoy Schadenfreude and trolling by extension are more prone to sadistic tendencies, not that they enjoy kidnapping people and hanging them by their toes with meat hooks in the basement. There's more to it than pure sadism, as that just covers one small part of it. There's always the element of people feeling that they're too cool or reserved to get involved in something, and instead are really flippant or destructive when approaching it. Some people may just be misanthropic and overly cynical as opposed to sadistic while others will feel too silly putting their opinion on whatever it is out there, and instead default to being silly about it. It's kinda like when you're ending an actual conversation and, in order to avoid sounding strange when you say bye, you counter-intuitively say it in a really high-pitched singing voice. It makes no sense but a lot of people do it without thinking. When sincerity seems inappropriate you go full ridiculous, and it's the same line of thought when people put their opinion across in the most flippant, childish way possible.

Edited by Airship Ballet
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From the discussion, it is clear that there are many definitions to trolling.

 

For me, it is always has a malignant intention to mess with the feelings of other people. The link with sadism is clear to me, and the research paper seemed reasonable.

 

I also don't agree that all people have effectively sadistic tendencies. Some do and some don't. There is probably a need and a place for both types in the world. Albeit, I think the Internet would be a more rational place if the humanity stood above the petty activity that is called trolling.

 

@Melan, I just got my paper into my usual journal, which has an impact factor of 2.5. 8)

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Clipper

-The mapper's best friend.

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Ah, I see where you're coming from, different definition of trolling.

 

FYI, "passive-aggressive" doesn't really exist. It got added to a U.S. military evaluation form until they discovered everyone got labeled passive-aggressive, because, you know, it's smart to not retaliate when you'd be subject to even greater negative ramifications. Instead you redeem your ego by acting at a safer time.

 

Or, another way of looking at it, 100% of people behave "passive aggressively" which is why it gets thrown around commonly and generally applies.

 

My familiarity with "schadenfreude" is finding pleasure in others' misfortune. A lack of empathy for the victim (or overriding relief that their own circumstance doesn't include that), in fact that sense of distance/removal permits the enjoyment. The bystander syndrome also comes into play here. There isn't a power component to it though.

 

The sadists I'm familiar with derive pleasure from causing pain themselves (not simply witnessing it), so in power exchange they feel an increase. They often empathize with their subjects.

 

It's the latter who tend to provoke to get a rise out of others, in an online context, "troll". The former might gleefully watch the action. Others just lose respect for the troll, note to avoid engaging that individual, and move on.

 

PS: I wouldn't say lacking effective communication skills amounts to trolling, since it lacks intent. In this case, the person is well meaning, trying to convey info, just doing so in a method that might frustrate. In fact, often they themselves are frustrated, "why don't they get it?/Why do I have to repeat myself"--or you see this in young children, when they don't have the vocabulary to express themselves yet. They aren't abusing the privilege of communicating and taking others' time, they just lack other resources.

"The measure of a man's character is what he would do if he knew he never would be found out."

- Baron Thomas Babington Macauley

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Or, another way of looking at it, 100% of people behave "passive aggressively" which is why it gets thrown around commonly and generally applies.

 

Passive aggressiveness is just a case of being really moody without being outright confrontational. It's being short and snappy and dismissive, actively grumpy but without being hostile. Everybody's passive aggressive in your sense, but that's taking it more as a contributor to a psychological profile than a short-term mood, which is what I was referring to.

 

Schadenfreude isn't quite as sinister as you're making out, or at least it doesn't have to be. It's usually something harmless and transient that's funny both because you're not suffering and because there's no long-term downside to it. Things like watching someone rage at a really difficult game, or falling over on the ice. If they were an asshole, you'd feel free to derive amusement provided it wasn't fatal or disabling. If it was a harmless slip and they looked funny doing it, you'd derive amusement. If they were a sweet old lady and they were carrying cookies to the nearby homeless center, you'd be mortified. It's all relative to context and the kind of person you are. If you know that there's nothing wrong with the person slipping over and they didn't lose anything, nor gain anything other than a bruised butt, you'd kindly help them up and be giggling internally. When you start recreating that intentionally, you're trolling. The degree to which you do it determines how people will react. Trolling isn't by definition causing a specific, finite degree of annoyance, in the same way that Schadenfreude isn't a case of deriving humour from a specific kind and degree of misfortune. If you stick out your leg and trip up your sister when you're both toddlers, you're a sibling. If you do it at the age of thirty to a stranger on crutches, you're a monster. The entire purpose of one branch of Philosophy serves to try and draw lines in the sand around this kind of thing, but in general Schadenfreude is deriving humor in anything ranging from walking into a door to causing a 50-car pile-up, and sadism is deriving satisfaction in anything ranging from tickling somebody to killing their family and showing them pictures.

 

I wouldn't say lacking effective communication skills amounts to trolling, since it lacks intent. In this case, the person is well meaning, trying to convey info, just doing so in a method that might frustrate.

 

That's exactly what I said: "That can be intentional trolling or just ignorance/inability to listen and consider what others have to say because your have your own opinion." =P

Edited by Airship Ballet
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More semantic differences between us. If definitions are so broad to include other tangentially related things, then the term becomes meaningless.

 

The things you list for passive aggressive are their own emotions/reactions (and only one is relatively passive).

 

My point might've been missed, or my "n't", the "or" would be exclusive for me obviously, as the latter half isn't intentional; and ignorance/naïveté isn't trolling behavior, it's its own behavior.

 

Which leads to a curiosity of mine now, I'd hazard a guess that you might be an "N" communicator in Myers-Briggs personality typology, do you happen to know? (I'd perhaps even go so far as to guess INTP. As an ISTx, ascribing all these other meanings to something that already has its own meaning, doesn't correlate in my thought process.)

 

PS: You probably won't be surprised to hear the examples you put as funny under schadenfreude sound a bit tragic to me, not amusing at all. "If someone was an a-hole" doesn't relate, as people aren't always such, are more complex than that, and if they are hurt, suffer, regardless of behaviors toward me personally. Also laughing at someone's misfortune is experienced by them as ridicule, which worsens the circumstance for them, rather than helping. Expressing sympathy or commiserating with them in those situations instead, helps to alleviate their suffering (speaking of philosophy, now you've got me sounding like a Buddhist, heh).

"The measure of a man's character is what he would do if he knew he never would be found out."

- Baron Thomas Babington Macauley

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More semantic differences between us. If definitions are so broad to include other tangentially related things, then the term becomes meaningless.

 

There's nothing tangential about what I said, it's just that the terms themselves aren't specific:

 

"Schadenfreude is pleasure derived from the misfortunes of others. This word is a loanword from German. The literal English translation is 'Harm-Joy'. It is the feeling of joy or pleasure when one sees another fail or suffer misfortune. It is also borrowed by some other languages."

 

Everything from falling over in the ice to having your family murdered can be classed as suffering and misfortune. There's no specified degree by definition, it's just an emotion you experience when seeing others suffer, no matter the severity. Schadenfreude has been argued to be programmed into us via evolution. We're continually looking out for ourselves and in the end all we care about on a primal level is the perpetuation of our genes. It's thought to be a primal emotion, one that you can't turn off. You can experience it briefly and then turn it off and pretend it never happened, but everybody experiences it. Bullies are the kind of people to relish it and act on/voice it without helping. Speaking of,

 

laughing at someone's misfortune is experienced by them as ridicule, which worsens the circumstance for them

 

Maybe another semantic difference between us is the meaning of the word internally and help them up. I don't mean stand there and lose it with laughter, I mean help them up while acknowledging that it was funny, because denial helps nothing. Naturally you need to stay caring and considerate as you do so, but sounding official and forcibly PC is the fastest way to make somebody feel uneasy. I can't speak for everybody but I know for damn sure that I'd rather be helped up with a wry smile and a bit of dark humor than a stony smile and a harmless countenance. I think one of the most important things to learn in life is to not be afraid of insulting people. In this context, people are far more comfortable in a time of need with somebody who talks naturally and with a bit of dark humor than ones who remain the picture of purity and alienate themselves from the afflicted in the process. In fact, dark humor has helped me through a lot, and still is doing. If somebody trying to help me is too afraid to talk to me properly for fear of offending me or making me feel ridiculed, they'll either have no effect or make me feel worse. There's nothing less comforting on the planet than a sterile hospital ward, and the same goes for the equivalent approach to comforting people. Still, like everything philosophical it's futile to debate it since it's so subjective and difficult to quantify, especially over something as unstimulating as the internet.

Edited by Airship Ballet
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