By Robin Lempel
A recent study in Personality and Individual Differences showed that trolls are basically narcissists, psychopaths and sadists. “…[T]he association 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,” the study said. Trolls basically have fun upsetting you. Okay. That’s not so surprising.
But what might be surprising is that a substantial number of people have ‘fessed up to being the one thing everyone says they hate. YouGov did an online survey recently to see who these trolls really are. And it turns out over one-quarter of Americans have admitted to trolling behavior. That’s a lot! Millennials are twice as likely to troll on the internet than those that are 55 and up and men are more likely to troll than women. But why are so many Americans trolling on the internet?
The internet can be a pretty aggressive place. Under the veil of anonymity, people feel that they have the right and ability to say whatever they want. And they really let loose.
28% of respondents confessed to “malicious online activity directed at somebody they didn’t know,” while 23% admitted to “having maliciously argued over an opinion with a stranger.” Plus 12% admitted to posting “controversial statements.”
What’s more worrisome is that people don’t seem to think there’s any way to stop people from trolling. Over one third of those questioned said the best thing to do is to just ignore a troll. While many people say to just shrug it off, why should people just ignore “malicious” behavior?
But it looks like things could be changing. Under new laws in Britain, for example, internet trolls could receive up to two years in prison for their behavior. “No one would permit such venom in person, so there should be no place for it on social media,” Justice Secretary Chris Grayling said.
Trolling behavior can be extremely hurtful to people. And it’s pretty disheartening to see that so many people have participated in it.