June 20, 2013

Psychology of an internet troll

Yesterday I came across a fascinating video from Academic Earth about the psychology of internet trolls. It focuses not on WHY trolls do what they do, because really that can only be answered by the trolls themselves. Instead, it looks at their tactics, the WHAT and HOW. It shares some general psychological concepts behind those types of behaviors:

Created by AcademicEarth.org

Lastly, it talks about how to best combat the behaviors. The advice will sound familiar; we hear it often. This is just another way of stating it:

"...the only way to beat a troll is to not play the game."

You can see the full transcript of the video here. It's worth a read.

There has been a rally cry of late to fight back against this type of behavior. To call it out and aggressively work to defeat it. And I believe we need to fight the pervasive culture online and in our society that enables and even celebrates bullying behavior.

But the experts in this field agree when dealing with the individuals perpetuating these actions, the best response is not to respond. It is hard to do. But, we need to remind ourselves time again internet trolls are not interested in civil discourse.

Those of us who are need to lead by our own actions. Refuse to be sucked into the games. It is futile. Instead, demonstrate how we can discuss our difference in a civil, respectful manner.

We probably will never eradicate cyberbullying entirely, but we can take control of our own actions and our own online experiences. Trolls don't get to dictate to us. They can't, unless we allow them to.

So remember, when you encounter the kind of behavior reviewed in this video, refuse to play along.

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