Whatever under the bridge

Most everyone here, I assume, will agree that trolls suck. And now we have scientific evidence to support that premise:

[Y]our run-of-the-mill backseat pokers, hair pullers, and forbidden cat petters don’t generally grow up to spend large portions of their time harassing total strangers on the Internet in search of “lulz.” They don’t, in other words, turn into Internet trolls.

That’s because the true troll has a lot more of the sadist hidden deep inside than you do, gentle reader — at least according to a new study, “Trolls just want to have fun,” which appeared in the academic journal Personal and Individual Differences. The Canadian researchers behind the study conclude that “online trolls are prototypical everyday sadists… For those with sadistic personalities, [their] ideal self may be a villain of chaos and mayhem — the online Trickster we fear, envy, and love to hate: the cyber-troll.”

And unfortunately, the sheer ubiquity of the Internet has caused the miserable bastards to proliferate:

The Internet’s amazing ability to create communities even out of the strangest or most repulsive of niche interests has also been a boon to trolls, who in the past could only make themselves unpleasant in local ways — bringing family members to tears at Christmas dinner, for instance. Thanks to the ‘Net, though, not only do they have a broader (and more anonymous) outlet for their urges, but trolls “have greater opportunities to connect with similar others and to pursue their personal brand of ‘self expression’.”

Let us always remember not to feed them.


  1. fillyjonk »

    21 February 2014 · 1:41 pm

    I wonder if also part of the reason “run of the mill backseat pokers” et. al. don’t grow up to be Internet trolls is that they had parents who either read them the riot act, or perhaps, even, took them to the woodshed over proto-trollish behavior?

    Though yeah, I think to be capable of driving a family member to tears (and not tears of the “Oh, you’re going to finally be a grandparent!” variety) may take a level of heinousness not typically found.

  2. McGehee »

    22 February 2014 · 10:09 am

    It’s one thing to know you have a monster living inside you. It’s another thing entirely to give it the keys on a routine basis.

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