Apart from the impish glee of poking people with a virtual stick, I think that trolling means a person doesn't have to expose their sensitive
underbelly of opinions or beliefs. They can say to themselves 'Ha ha, I'm just saying this to piss them off' thus avoiding the risk of saying anything
genuine or constructive, in case it's criticized. A twisted self-esteem preserving defense mechanism gone wrong, like a virtual pre-emptive strike.
Positioning themselves so as to receive negative attention deliberately, to avoid receiving damaging negative attention. What's that behavior
People who do not distinguish between positive attention (praise, approval) and negative attention (criticism, disapproval), but simply perceive
attention = good
Not necessarily as simple - the motives for putting on a troll suit do not interest me. I think it's often to protect the soft squishy real person
wearing the troll.
Like the cheap British TV show Dr. Who’s Daleks, y'know, armored war machines with scary voices on the outside, helpless deformed mutant brains on
the inside. Or a durian fruit, spiky outside squishy inside (also smells of human feces, so apt).
Trolls don’t seem to like attention in the way we all like attention to some degree or other; instead they crave *impact*. I don’t really see
being argumentative as trollsome. In fact I generally take arguing with people as redeeming them in some way, because although certain positions might
be troublesome, pursuing them through dialogue is par of the course and ‘fits’ with a community – particularly a discursive community like ATS.
To me, trolls will do anything to avoid fitting in because impact is easiest achieved through *contrast*. It's often a refusal to engage with argument
that marks them out.
So in terms of psychology, I don’t know if it’s much different to any of the other forceful, short-termist, superficial expressions of difference.
I guess serious crises of identity might manifest themselves in this kind of assertion of identity. I’d have thought that message board trolling is
related to a range of behaviors from blowing raspberries at Nanny, painting your room black, joining the Young Conservatives, etc. There’s an
emphasis on impulse, unpredictability, the antisocial, the psychological conflation of shock with awe.
My own theory is that persistent trolls are the online equivalent of people who while early in their development/parenting: I suspect they've either
come from large families where every child had to fight for parental attention; or one or other parent has been emotionally distant/disengaged
(through depression, perhaps, or drug use) and our troll has learned that only the most extreme behavior is sufficient to win him any attention at
all. For whatever reason, any attention is welcome, with the board becoming a parent-substitute in the troll's 'look at me' reenactment of old
I assume that trolls are at a fragile age, identity-wise – pubescents, largely, I’d have thought. I wonder if there’s a correlation between
compulsive trolling and more acute identity problems, but I doubt there’s much research into this (yet).
Still, if it’s a release, it’s probably better that they go on the foul around a message board than start cutting themselves (or 'real'
In my efforts to reply to trolling, I've found it to be largely ignored.
edit on 4-6-2011 by Illustronic because: (no reason given)