I don't know if I'm going to make this into a series. I'm planning on making videos soon, but I thought this particular post would work better as a MyTake. Without further ado, I present to you
Misconception Vs. Reality: Internet trolls
The word troll, used in the phrase "internet troll" is a subjective and controversial term. Many different destructive behaviors are labeled as "trolling" because being called a "troll" is preferable to being called an "antisocial" or a "sociopath." I define trolling as behavior designed to get attention. That's a very nebulous definition, so I'm going to be more specific.
There's a type of internet user known as an R.I.P "troll." The lack of humanity these people possess is unfathomable. R.I.P troll sounds like a person who pretends to be dead. That sort of behavior would be destructive and sadistic; unfortunately, that's not what an R.I.P troll is. R.I.P trolls are people who go around the internet posting horrible things on people's statuses after a loved one has passed away.
Like I say, it's unimaginable how little you must care about others to participate in this. I have no respect for people who do and I honestly don't believe anybody who engages in this behavior is redeemable. In any sense of the word.
There is another type of trolling that people engage in as well. And this is where I have to admit my bias, since I have participated in this type of trolling before.
My career as an internet troll
If you've ever played COD you may, at some point, have humiliated people in gun game (that means demoting them) instead of actually playing the game. I suppose this behavior isn't technically harmless, but on the other hand it comes with the territory. If you're going to play COD don't be surprised if you run into this type of player.
I have done that before. But in addition I have also trolled the internet in other ways. I like to think none of what I did hurt anybody, but you can be the judge of that. Here's an example of some of the activities I engaged in.
-Griefing- that's a term in Minecraft. Basically means destroying something someone built. I didn't destroy anything but I would go into people's buildings even if they did not want me in there.
-Yahoo answers- asking ridiculous questions to get a response. "If I left chicken out for four days can I still eat it." Stupid stuff like that. I probably had/have ten accounts on there, but I've forgotten the password and username info.
-Cursing in Minecraft servers to get a moderator's attention and get myself banned. Coming back with a different account.
-Hiding in COD until I was the last one left. Using a rocket launcher to try to kill the enemy team while other people screamed at me over the mic.
Most of the time I had two goals: Make other people laugh and get other people's attention. I've never told anyone to kill themselves. And that's not me patting myself on the back- most people haven't.
Why I'm bringing this up
Back when I was trolling I was absolutely miserable. I felt like shit most of the time and I had no outlet for my anger. I was unwilling to take responsibility for my own actions and realize the mistakes I had made. I blamed life and other things outside of my control. I blamed my parents.
And one of the interesting things I've noticed looking back on the trolling- much of it had to do with situations I was dealing with in real life. That "left the chicken out for four days" question might just seem random and stupid, but this is directly linked to my fear of food being contaminated and my fear of vomiting (emetophobia). Perhaps that question made me feel better. I don't know for sure why I did that.
Do I feel guilty for what I did? No, not too much. I don't believe I ever hurt anybody when I was trolling and my goal was never to make other people feel bad. I regret it because I wasted my life. I never tried to change because going onto MC and trolling everyday was easier.
I felt lonely and my goal was to get attention.
How does this fit into the larger narrative?
When people think of trolls they think of fat overweight guys with neckbeards living in their mother's basement.
In reality though, the sort of trolling most of these people do is harmless. When these people troll they usually do it to get attention, speaking as someone who used to engage in that sort of behavior. The goal of these lonely friendless people is usually not to make anybody feel bad.
The sad part is, despite this stereotype, a lot of the people who fit this mold are perfectly friendly. Usually they have some sort of health condition or mental health condition that causes them to live this way. I'm not saying you can't make fun of stereotypes or trying to spoil anyone's fun, I'm just saying that this stereotype is inaccurate. A lot of these people are just looking for a friend.
Why people choose to believe this stereotype
You can be ugly and unattractive on the outside and live a shit life and still have some kind of morals and ethics. Conversely you can be incredibly handsome and attractive on the outside and live a great life and have no morals and ethics at all.
I think people typically choose to think of trolls this way because it is comforting. Much more comforting to picture a troll as someone who looks like this then...
Someone who looks like this...
(Oliver rawlings aka Internet troll who abused an older woman for shits and giggles)
Someone living life to the fullest. Someone, on the surface, who would be perfectly pleasant and friendly but underneath is severely lacking in morals. It might not be such a stretch to call this man a Sociopath.
When people refer to trolls as mean aggressive people who try to tear others down online, they are basically referring to an antisocial person with sadistic tendencies.
A couple things to point out about this study.
1) they had a bunch of internet trolls fill out questions on a test, and internet trolls are masters of manipulation. Although, if they manipulated this study for fun that may be an accurate indication regardless.
2) These traits were most prevalent in People who said trolling was their FAVORITE INTERNET ACTIVITY.
3) Trolling was not clearly defined. In this case I believe it means being abusive and hostile toward others.
One Massive Misconception
A lot of people believe that trolls are very angry people. And it only makes sense that their anger would stem from somewhere- namely their shitty life. Certainly in some cases this is true. But in other cases the truth is far more disturbing.
Trolls don't attack people because they are angry. Trolls don't abuse because they are looking for an outlet. Trolls attack people and abuse them for FUN. They simply enjoy it. Tearing other people down is a sport to them. You or I might watch a funny TV show when we have some free time. A troll on the other hand, wouldn't enjoy that as much as harassing people on the internet. That's more entertaining to them.
A while ago, some people were calling Leafyishere (a popular youtuber) a Sociopath (an overused term I'll admit- he's a very flawed person, but I wouldn't go so far as to say he's a Sociopath). So I googled it and came across a forum in which people were discussing Leafy. As one person explained, they enjoyed watching Leafy because he "tears other people down and breaks them and it's fun to see the mental breakdown unfold." That should give you an idea of the mindset of this type of person.
Maybe I'll do a separate MyTake on Sociopathy and personality disorders in general, I don't know yet.
The answer is clear
Trolls are not angry people with shitty lives in most cases. The ones that troll due to these factors usually do it for attention but still have some semblance of a moral compass and do not harass or abuse (usually- there are exceptions).
Trolls ARE antisocial, sadistic people. If they aren't angry to begin with it will be hard to piss them off. And if you accuse them of having no life your accusations have no effect on them because they usually aren't accurate. If you call them antisocial they probably won't care much. And if you challenge them, they will respond. So the only option really is to
And this goes for all kinds of trolls, even the ones doing it for attention. It's not up to you to give them that attention. It's up to them to fix their life so they aren't desperate to get attention from some random person on the internet.
Most people are good. Most people don't troll. And most people who troll don't do it to harm others. But there are some out there who are trying to harm others- because it's fun for them.
You must ignore these people, as hard as it might be. If you can't take solace in the fact that they are fat basement dwelling losers at least take solace in the fact that they do not think and feel like you or I do and will very possibly end up in trouble with the law for their actions at some point.
Trolls are the most ordinary everyday people. People need to realize that. Most people do, but some people still stubbornly cling to the comforting idea that trolls are ugly no-lifes.
Some are. But most, aren't. Most are just normal people like you and me.