“Arguing with anonymous strangers on the Internet is a sucker’s game because they almost always turn out to be—or to be indistinguishable from—self-righteous sixteen-year-olds possessing infinite amounts of free time.”- Neal Stephenson, Cryptonomicon
If you’ve spent more than a nanosecond online, you’ve no doubt encountered a troll. In internet slang, a troll is a person who sows discord on the Internet by starting arguments or upsetting people, by posting inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community (such as a forum, chat room, or blog), with the deliberate intent of provoking readers into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion.
My personal opinion of those who troll is less than flattering. I’ve always viewed them as ignorant, hateful cretins, who, due to the anonymity of the internet, feel empowered to say things they would never dare utter if face-to-face with the target of their attacks. No one is off limits to them and nothing is sacred.
Now, thanks to some Canadian researchers, it appears that my personal opinion of these people(?) is way off base. It seems, I’ve been too kind.
Three researchers from the Universities of Manitoba, Winnipeg and British Columbia conducted two separate surveys using only respondents from the United States. Their findings, published at ScienceDirect, is titled “Trolls Just Want to Have Fun“.
Unsurprisingly, their results showed that trolls reek of what scientists call the Dark Tetrad of noxious personality variables: Machiavellianism (willingness to manipulate and deceive others), narcissism (egotism and self-obsession), psychopathy (the lack of remorse and empathy), and sadism (pleasure in the suffering of others).
That’s quite a mouthful and no doubt way over the heads of most trolling dolts. So, when I encounter one, in the not so distant future, I’ll just stick with…..