Today, I’m on a rant against trolls. These may indeed be the type that live under bridges, but more
likely, they live in their parents’ basements and bitch about those of us who actually have something to say. These are the types who use the “anonymity” of the Internet to cyber bully and laugh at those who don’t agree with their world view.
Kids, I’ve been slaughtering trolls before you were a gleam in your troll-daddies’ eyes. I think you need to get a reality check. For the rest of those who want to understand why someone doesn’t respect your opinions and viewpoints online (or if you’ve ever been the target of DYEHB), read on…
Internet Trolls are Narcissists, Psychopaths, and Sadists
Whoa! That sounds extreme, doesn’t it? Guess what? Those aren’t my words, but I agree whole-heartedly. The pronouncement comes from an article in Psychology Today. Trolls are the nastiest people around and we don’t want to spend anytime near them. They scored ridiculously high in what shrinks call “the Dark Tetrad:” narcissism, Machiavellianism, psychopathy, and sadism. Canadian researchers came to this stunning conclusion that those of us who have been on the Internet had already known after two studies with more than 1200 subjects. So, if you’ve ever taken delight attacking people on the Internet for sheer sport, count yourself among the troll-kind. And you’re not my friend. For some reason, I couldn’t see the graph, but I found it on Slate, so you can see it too.
The researchers had this to say:
“… the associations between sadism and GAIT (Global Assessment of Internet Trolling) scores were so strong that it might be said that online trolls are prototypical everyday sadists.” [emphasis added]
Well, well, well. That says to me that they simply get their rocks off making other people feel awful. Nice.
Is the Rational Heathen a Troll?
Now, I can hear some of you muttering that I am some kind of troll because I post what are controversial posts occasionally. And sometimes, yes, I admit that the titles are a bit more click-bait so that you’ll read them, but I consider that just good journalism and not necessarily trolling. In my Recons are Idiots piece, I thought I was pretty damn clear what kind of recons I had issues with. And oddly enough, those were the same folk who took umbrage at my statements by proving me right. It’s funny because as many outspoken recons there were, there were more people saying, “yeah, I’ve experienced that — thanks for agreeing with me.” So, if you’re a recon and you’ve disagreed with me, note that plenty of other folk are in my court and you or someone who claims they’re a recon are the ones who have given recons that reputation.
That being said, I don’t go out of my way to attack a particular person. Oh, I might mention a type of person, or refer to someone whom I keep anonymous for everyone’s overall protection, but I don’t troll the boards looking to pick fights and make people miserable. If anything, I’m extremely courteous to those on other boards. Now, if you come swinging on my own board, then the gloves are off. If you make a legitimate case, I will listen to you. I may not agree, but I’ll listen to you. And if you’re civil to me, I’ll be civil to you. That’s the game we’ll play. The only people I don’t have patience for are the racists and white-supremacists. And I will insult you if you are one.
Look, no one says you have to read my page. In fact, if you don’t like what I’m saying, maybe you should go elsewhere where people agree with you. You’re welcome to stay in your narrow-minded corner since you can’t seem to accept someone else’s point of view. (And yes, I just took a swipe at you. Deal with it.)
I’ve had precisely two trolls show up on my Facebook page. After some long, ugly discussions which ended up as ad hominem attacks, I didn’t bother to tell them to fuck off. I simply banned them. The problem is the more you try to reason with them, the worse they get. Finally, I got tired of them and pulled the plug. I’ll entertain opposing views, but you’re on my good graces if you’re nasty. My good graces incidentally are largely dependent on how much work I have to do, how much sleep I’ve had, and what kind of day I’m having. In other words, “you don’t know my day, bitch,” — don’t push it.
Why Do They Do It?
Interestingly enough, there is a lovely post in Psychology Today which actually states why trolls do what they do. A lot of it has to do with the nameless face in the crowd mentality. The overall “anonymity,” or at least, obscurity, of the Internet, combined with the feeling that other people’s silence equals agreement, and being surrounded by a social group that will at least support them, are reasons they will say the damnedest things. The trolls I zapped online wouldn’t dare say what they did to my face. If they did, they’d better only keep it at words.
For a while, there has been people who had a board specifically for Heathen trolls. I read through some of their “laughs” and found them to be boring and inane. And yes, I just call them inane. They laughed at people for the way they practiced Heathenism, as though there is some “right” way and some “wrong” way. I’ll admit, there are some practices I think aren’t right due violations in the ethics of reciprocity, and you’ll know up front why I think that, but the gray areas of Heathenism are very large. It’s those gray areas that the trolls revel in, and they make certain that everyone knows how “stupid” they think a person is. While I might think your way of practicing Heathenism is wrong, if it is harmless and you’re not trying to push it on me, I probably won’t make fun of you. If I do, it’s because it’s so bizarre and off the chart. But I won’t name names. Ad hominems directed at specific people aren’t cool, and downright mean. There’s no reason to do this.
The Troll Test
Yes, really, there is an Internet troll test. While I am not beyond getting into a debate with someone, I can truly say I say no to all those questions. I’m not asking you to bare your heart to us, but if you really think it’s a great idea to call me names, I’d suggest taking a look at the questions and see if maybe the shoe fits. If it does, then perhaps you need to go somewhere else. Like very far away.