Monday, December 8, 2014

What's behind internet trolls?

By Abigail Clarke: Contributing Content Blogger

We're all in for a bit of a shock when taking a look at the mentality behind Internet trolls. How a person can find fulfillment spreading their hateful remarks on others is hard for those normal of us to understand. It's said that trolls share the same aggressive tendencies as pedophiles, rapists, serial killers, and other abusive characters – and I would agree.  There is still research being done to determine if Internet social media platforms act as a catalyst for physical aggression or if they actually work to draw attention away from carrying out aggression in the physical realm.  To me it seems both could be argued but I tend to believe there is a much greater probability that a troubled person, already predisposed to acting out hate against others online, would be more likely to carry out physical aggression than not. Simply put, social media caters to the cyber troll’s destructive nature and encourages them to act out, not retreat. Studies in bio sciences have actually shown that aggression builds especially strong pathways in the brain to which more and more stimulation is required in order to feel satisfied. This vicious cycle can easily be seen by the countless incidents of aggressive trolls crossing the line – breaking into homes, stalking their victims, and ultimately taking physical action that has led to numerous criminal acts of harassment, rape, and murder.

Every Internet troll should be regarded as dangerous. The first mistake would be to trivialise or disregard any threats of physical harm. This is not to mean that we should ever engage these people, it only means that sick people do act on their aggressive and violent thoughts. Today, with the growing ease in which personal information can be obtained, no one is really perfectly safe.  This is why awareness, vigilance, and swift-acting law enforcement are key components when it comes to establishing effective cyber-safety measures. At the same time, we must not fear Internet trolls to the extent they prevent us from living our lives.