(Not So) Great Minds: The Psychology of Trolls

Quick quiz: Does this Star Wars fan look familiar?

His name is Eric Butts, a 40-year-old super fan of Star Wars. The man made international news when he broadcast himself watching the inaugural trailer of Episode IX, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.

Eric got a skosh emotional. Why the rest of us believed his expression ranged from completely amazing to totally bewildering is because we aren’t Eric Butts. Simple.

And if you can admit you aren’t him, then why suggest he should be more like you? As if you are that great in the first place?! Eric was torched on Twitter, called a “virgin,” “undateable,” “total geek,” and even the R word.

For what? Because he was a little too vocal? Because he had a nerd cry over a video? Or simply because he has (as of this date) 10 million views…and you don’t?!

Someone who is completely excited about something you don’t care about.

This is the true definition of a “Fanatic.”

Now you know why Eric got bullied the way he did. People who don’t care about Star Wars the way he does decided that was too much. As if that’s the measure we should use to gauge trailer reactions to the greatest nerd franchise of all time.

There is a small part of neanderthals in social media that believe how they feel about a thing should be the way everyone feels about a thing.

The Evolution of Trolling

Beware. They are everywhere. Without warning…or Twitter policies.

We know them now as “social media trolls.” It was released in 2014, but a Science Direct study is still considered groundbreaking and reason alone why Twitter needs to make a policy against cyberbullying that matters.

And make no mistake: That is precisely what social media trolling is — bullying. Here’s a clinical definition of said social media troll (aka bully).

An Internet troll is someone who comes into a discussion and posts comments designed to upset or disrupt the conversation.

Source: Psychology Today, 09.2014

These disruptors of common sense and decency are inextricably linked with what is called the “Dark Tetrad” of Personality.

  • Narcissism – It’s all about me, regardless of how it affects others
  • Psychopathy – I have a true mental disorder, not just someone calling me a name out of ignorance
  • Sadism – When other people are hurting, I enjoy it…and sometimes, get off on it
  • Machiavellian – You know all those wildly successful politicians, lawyers, and financial types who are cunning, manipulative, and unscrupulous? That’s this.

The study found people who scored high in this enigmatic Dark Tetrad admitted trolling in social media was a favorite activity. Trolls enjoy inflicting pain, mental strife, and emotional distress. And why? Because they suck.

The Expansion of Trolling

If someone has an inkling of celebrity, notoriety, or infamy, they are a target of social media trolls. Maybe these eunuch troglodytes have some free time on their hands when they are not out talking about their grandparents behind their backs? Perhaps these dunderhead nerdsticks got a reprieve from their full-time job at the local library to see who is Twitter famous and give them the (misspelled) business.

Whatever the reason, these clowns are bitter, envious people who love to tear something, rip something apart, or steal the attention from someone.

Most of the time, the attention comes in a bucket of vitriol because regular people can’t imagine acting that. Take our crying man Mr. Butts. He loves him some Star Wars, so mean people offered their bag of suck, then this happened…

Hey trolls, how do you like those apples? Dude has a ticket to the Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker premiere and you… well, you get to buy a movie ticket at your local matinee. Kudos. And that wasn’t all.

The Extinction of Trolls

Let’s be clear about one primary thing: These social media trolls, by nature, are 100% cowards.

They are roaches that huddle in masses in the dark, but when the light is turned on, they scatter like ecstasy addicts at a rave. That light must be turned on at the first sight of trolling.

And yes, Twitter, we are looking right at you.

Your policy for “free speech” is costing innocent people dignity, enjoyment, and even their lives. In 2012, a notable example of this was found in the case of Charlotte Dawson, a “Next Top Model” judge who, after considerable pummeling at the hands of countless and nameless brave souls hiding behind a fake name and fictitious avatar, attempted suicide.

Directly before her attempt, Dawson tweets this…

Twitter has zero tolerance for abuse, so we are told. In 2018, Twitter finally realized their PR was taking a hit (as was their stock), so they rolled out a new “strategy.”

The man behind the blue bird, Jack Dorsey, stated “Twitter now would try to find problematic accounts by examining behavior such as how frequently people tweet about accounts that do not follow them or whether they have confirmed their email address.”

“We want to take the burden of the work off the people receiving the abuse or the harassment,” Dorsey said in a briefing with reporters. Past efforts to fight abuse “felt like Whac-A-Mole,” he added.

Reuters, May 2018

The fruit of that labor so far has been minimal. That needs to change. Until then, people will continue to give spoilers before they should (media types, you know who you are also). And they will offer their own direction on life when things are clearly not their business.

It Starts With Us

Source: NGOhub.asia

More than 1 million fake or suspicious accounts are being deleted per day, but it’s not enough, because again like roaches, they multiply like Agents on The Matrix: Reloaded.

How do you feel when some disagrees with something you are passionate about? Do you want to merit your points with an intelligent debate or do you want to slap them? If the answer is the latter, you are inadvertently part of the problem.

Trolls want the one thing they didn’t get in life growing up (usually from folks they found attractive) — attention. By retweeting the hate, you give them attention. By calling out the hate with more hate, you further promote the hate. Learn to debate with no emotion or mute them, block them, and report them if necessary.

Just because they disagree with you doesn’t mean they need to be reported. If that disagreement is bathed in racist banter, mindless accusations, or a fist in the gut, then holler at Twitter and Jack Dorsey to honor his word.

If you really want to bring about change for Twitter, understand it starts with you. Trolls are gonna troll. We even have psychologists telling us that. Here’s how we can begin:

  • Learn to disagree with intelligent debate. Everyone has an opinion, but if it’s not a constructive one, nothing changes.
  • Understand you are not that important. If trolls come at you, why publicize how they are making you feel? No one but them wants to read that.
  • Figure out how to challenge opinion without saying someone is wrong. Not everyone will agree with you, but you may have something to learn in that disagreement.
  • Defend the voiceless. It sucks what happened to Eric Butts, but without people shouting at Mark Hamill, his dream may not have come true. Good on ya, Twitter. We’re starting there.

If we want social media to be a better place, we need to be better on social media. Eventually, that is the light revealing those roaches. Nerds deserve better, don’t we?