The Art of Trolling

By Kenneth Crenshaw Jr. / Delta Opinion Editor

I took a break from surfing the web today. I allowed myself to rest my eyes and “unplug” from the endless amount of online content. I noticed I felt far more calm and less anxious than when I was sitting in front of the screen. I had no longer felt the pressure of social standards from millions of people I do not know. While there are  good things found surfing the internet, it can also be abused. 

Online Trolling is best defined as the benefit of expressing an unpopular opinion, criticizing antagonistic beliefs in the goal of provoking or upsetting others. The name is derived from the fishing technique to set bait behind the boat so that fish follow. John Suler coined the term in 2004 to describe the “Loosening of social inhibitions because of the anonymity of the internet.” 

Most online accounts are anonymous and are used with far less integrity because of their hidden identities, which we benefit from positive social rewards. Getting a good feelings from doing good deeds for others. Trolls have higher levels of negative social potency. They enjoy creating mischief and suffering and enjoy the attention they receive. 

Do not take the bait, people are depriving them of the negative social reward they are looking for, an inflammatory comment. Self identifiers troll for their own entertainment and laughter. There’s always those who cross the line who are actually cyberbullying. It’s hard for those online to understand the difference between harmless jokes and outright slander. 

I was fortunate enough to speak with students here at Missouri Valley College to hear their experiences on the topic. Several students were completely unfamiliar with the term trolling but quickly were able recall instances where they’ve experienced malicious acts online. 

I had asked Ariana Martinez about whether or not she feels if people are genuine and sincere online. She answered, “It just depends. It varies because some people express themselves better online. Others are shy and use social media to post about what they do everyday instead of sharing those things face to face.” 

Desynchronization talks about that added time a person has to think and craft a response since they do not have to respond immediately. In face to face interactions, people are expected to respond right away for the sake of carrying the conversation. 

People interpreted these actions as simply not having trust for those they may be around. The term Solipsistic Introjection means that there is a disconnect between real conversations and the constructed version of the other person. Simply put, this means if people envision the person you are talking to is a kind person, they are more likely to share more about themselves. If you envision the person online is rude or untrustworthy you will feel far less inclined to talk. 

 I asked if students felt any consequences for what they say or do online. Marissa Earl says, “I have seen some junky things on social media, it affects people mentally and it isn’t healthy to be sharing false information.” 

Dissociative Anonymity can be best described as the ability to hide on the internet and remain anonymous through false names or a hidden identity. In reality people are far less inclined to treat others hastily because their true identities are exposed. Online there isn’t this same issue due to how easy it is for anyone to start an online account. 

People feel invisible behind the screen. There is no eye contact online or ability to read body language. It is much harder to know someone’s intent with their words. This goes back to that fine line between others knowing if things are offensive or not. 

Dissociative Imagination is when the online user is someone who is playing a different kind of game and is more of a social experiment. Finding out what triggers others in order to gain that attention. 

In conclusion, social interactions are often skewed by various things that affect the channel of communication from one person or the other. A minimization of authority alters the communication by viewing everyone online as peers makes it easier to speak without fear of punishment. The option to surf the web anonymously grants the user the ability to hide behind the screen without having to face the reality of their consequences. 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s