sadism! psychopathy! machiavellianism! and trolling?

THE FOLLOWING PARAGRAPHS were taken from an article titled “The One Psychological Characteristic That Online Trolls Tend to Share.” It’s an interesting look at what trolling has become, and most of the findings fit my observations of and experiences with persistent (compulsive?) trolls on social and news-oriented websites.

It also continues nicely with my series of rants against any and all bullies (see below).


Trolling has changed culture

“Trolling has literally changed culture, both online and off. The word is now used to categorize a wide and varying swath of behaviors, from absurdist contrarian comment posts to harassment and abuse disproportionately aimed at women of all races and people of color.

There now exist troll scholars, many of whom have been studying trolls for years, and an academic area of study, trollology. 1

The question for non-trolls is, behind the layer of protective anonymity, what lies at the core of the troll psyche. The findings of a few studies suggest that trolls who are mean-spirited and manipulative online have offline personalities to match, and that insecurity drives a fair amount of their trollery.

Two studies looked at the personalities of some 1,200 people who engage in trolling: 2

‘Both studies revealed similar patterns of relations between trolling and the Dark Tetrad of personality: trolling correlated positively with sadism, psychopathy, and Machiavellianism. 3

Of all personality measures, sadism showed the most robust associations with trolling and, importantly, the relationship was specific to trolling behavior. Thus cyber-trolling appears to be an internet manifestation of everyday sadism. Sadists just want to have fun, and the internet is their playground!’ 

[Another] study found that male trolls who exhibited sexism in gaming—hurling misogynist threats and insults at women online—were particularly likely to be among the crappy players. 

‘Men who were of lower skill were more positive towards men and more negative towards women. But the really neat result is that when men were of higher skill, they were much more positive to women.’

‘In other words,’ the Washington Post suggests, ‘sexist dudes are literally losers.’ ” 4


Under the influence of paid trolls?

The article quoted above (“The One Psychological Characteristic That Online Trolls Tend to Share“) was written by Kali Holloway for AlterNet (September 28, 2016). The piece does not pretend to definitiveness; neither do I present it as such here.

Ms Holloway’s original article is more than 1,000 words in length; my excerpts above tally 275, so there’s lots more to read. Please click on over to AlterNet and read the piece in its entirety.

I’m reminded of Trump

“The disinhibition you see with trolls is exactly what I’m reminded of anytime I think of Trump. Online, people say things that they wouldn’t dare say in public. All the racist and sexist comments you see on forums like this one are usually said in private conversations. Or they’re things people believe, but just never say out loud.

So much of what Trump says sounds like it’s been lifted straight out of an online forum. It’s the things anyone who’s visited the comments section has seen countless times. Trump is like an online troll come to life. He says the things that other Republicans probably think, but would never say out loud.” (ProgressiveDog)


Extremely assertive positions

“I really don’t know how prevalent it is, but I’ve often wondered how many of the people who take extremely assertive positions on the web are actually hired guns. The many calls not to ever vote for Democrats because they are just as bad as Republicans comes to mind.

These could be Koch hires trying to grease the skids in the next election for the GOP, but they could also be true believers who honestly thing that they can get people to vote Green through intimidation. I have to wonder how many of those true believers became true believers under the influence of paid trolls.” (PrMaine)

This is full of reasonable statements

“I wanted to troll this comment section, but it’s actually full of reasonable statements.” (Rand Johnson)


If there’s a bully, there’s a victim

Like the main AlterNet article, the comments above have been pared down a bit to stick to the point of all of my posts on the extremely hostile, offensive (mostly rightwingnut but, yes, dear, there are leftwingnuts, too) internet trolls: that they are bullies.

Oh, by the way—I hate f*cking bullies . . .


FEATURED IMAGE: The trolls at the top of this page should have a difficult time harassing anyone on the worldwide web as computer technology in Middle Earth is lagging behind ours. That’s not to say we shouldn’t ask any Bagginses to keep their eyes and ears on orange alert . . .

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1   Trollology is “the study of the purist form of anonymous individualism.” (Urban Dictionary)

2   A test group of 1,200 subjects is rather large.

3   In modern psychology, Machiavellianism is one of the dark triad personalities, characterized by a duplicitous interpersonal style, a cynical disregard for morality, and a focus on self-interest and personal gain.” (Wikipedia)

4   “Here’s a research finding that should surprise no one: The men most likely to harass women online are the men most likely to have their own problems. In today’s online environment, alas, this is not an idle observation. According to a recent Pew report, 40% of Internet users have personally experienced harassment. While both genders are frequent victims of this abuse, women tend to get the worst of it.” (Washington Post)


The manifestation of the bully on the Internet in the form of a troll is a topic of concern to me. The anonymity of the troll is especially scary: you get to be a bully and no one knows who you are and there are no repercussions! To read more, type “bullies” into the SEARCH box on the home page of this site.

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One Reply to “sadism! psychopathy! machiavellianism! and trolling?”

  1. “For early adopters of Twitter, the company’s unwillingness to address trolls is practically written into the unspoken contract users sign by virtue of logging in. 

    As people were fleeing the venomous ‘Youtube comments’ and avoiding the toxic comment sections of news sites, the trolls began to creep out from under the bridge, and found a whole new avenue of breeding ground in social media platforms.

    Especially those platforms with loose concepts of anti-harassment.

    As Twitter avoided the topic of anti-harassment, these trolls learned to hone their verbal abuse skills on a medium that provides 140 characters of sheer shit and the unlimited reach of its interconnected networks.

    Suddenly, trolls were connected like never before!” (K.C. Alexander)


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