Anonymity gives people ability to do things that they wouldn’t do otherwise. Even say things that normal sane people don’t say. And Internet Trolls are people who use this anonymity to persistently, and many times with malafide intentions, promote and share stuff on some internet platforms, boards and forums. Some take up self righteous role of “setting things right” even with a negative turn of events. For example, people who post severely racist stuff, somehow, suggest that the reaction to that material helps – and not hurt – the race situation. The reaction to their action is the gate of redemption in their eyes.
In some cases, people have committed suicide when they were hounded from one forum to another with information and pictures of their embarrassing moments. Here is one way to define Internet Troll:
is someone who posts inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community, such as a forum, chat room, or blog, with the primary intent of provoking readers into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion.
Trolls and Media
Is internet trolling a flip side of the mainstream media and its behavior and in some way a “sum total” of this society’s conscience? It very well may be. Because, Internet Troll are also trying to “get in” to the same news cycle that mainstream media is using all the time. Since social media is the vehicle they have to get even with the mainstream media.
And all this feeds to our collective appetite for voyeurism and gore.
Root of Trolling mentality
What is the root of this mentality? Whitney, one of the guests, suggests that it lies in the way West discusses anything. By fighting or challenging. So, she asserts that it is not merely anonymity that is fueling this, but the inherent grain in the Western mind that probably stems from the Greek tradition of discussion and oratory.
Is that so?
The discussion Tom Ashbrook has with his guests is very informative and insightful.
Jonathan Zittrain, Professor of Law at Harvard Law School and the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, Professor of Computer Science at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, and co-founder of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society. He’s the author of The Future of the Internet and How to Stop It.
Whitney Phillips, lecturer on digital culture at New York University. A “digital ethnographer,” she wrote her dissertation on internet trolls. You can read her blog here.
Also check out the Infographic below: