That article is written with poor thought into other empirical fact vis-a-vis psychology and the nature of the study itself where these conclusions came from.
These types of articles perpetuate a rather psychotic, polarizing rule stating “if they act evil online, they are evil offline too”.
That kind of mentality and rigid way of thinking bleeds into other aspects, such as community management itself. Specifically, handling these types of users in the field.
Below, an excerpt from something I wrote regarding this behavior and how an individual not formally diagnosed with anti-social personality disorder can act online as if they were. This was in reply to an article stating concern about certain online dating circles where sudden abandonment without closure or follow-up stands as the unfortunate norm. Also, general psychological abuse. And, the victims were usually women.
Here comes the empirical fact vis-a-vis psychology–
Text written by Tarak’ha
Only two places exist where people can erase some form of empathy for others. In their car, and the internet.
Both the car and the internet obscure body language and facial expressions.
However, when someone steps out the car with cues and tools that say “I gonna kill yah” you bet the other is not continuing the aggressive behaviors that started it. Real Life view of body language and facial expressions makes Humans fall right in line because the Human species is very group-oriented. Once you remove facets of that, it becomes a land of lone wolves hunting and vultures to pick at the scraped gristle (or rather, well, my kind, aye). This is why evil trolling can happen on the internet. The average Human cannot sympathize with text on a screen. Not even a photo.
You hear a lot about these internet trolls who meet their victim face to face.
They look pale as a corpse, and they look like they are going to vomit and crap bricks at the same time.
Not really the awesome and powerful person they are when behind a few thousand miles, Ethernet cable, servers, duct tape and some screens.
Empathy can exist on the internet. The fact I assisted a lot of women (no matter their sex) says this. I have empathy. You all apparently do by caring about this in some way and discussing it with concern; I like this.
You have to weed out, mitigate, the crap. There’s ways. We can talk about this forever. We know now what is going on.
Maybe we can think of a way to begin making this less common as if another eye blinked and everyone yawned. Education and knowledge will help this.
Sure, there are going to be averages and trends: those quick to temper, the naturally aggressive and the male sex/gender.
All three of those do not have to be met at the same time. Nor do they have to be met at all.
Everyone has a little psychotic feels now and then. Think of the last time someone did something, and the thought of just smackin’ 'em a little to knock some sense into them came into the mindspace. No internet or car needed for that.
The study used for the initial linked article’s conclusions does not take into account the current research on psychotic behaviors correlating to temporary lapses of instinctual empathy that can occur in anyone.
The study was taken online–one of the factors exasperating temporary psychotic behavior. And, it does not attempt to see if these self-proclaimed trolls (“trolling is the favorite internet activity”) have formal diagnoses of any personality disorder most-known for aggressive, psychotic behavior.
Having these “Dark Tetrad” traits online and through anonymity does not make a personality disorder diagnosis; such a sweeping generalization.
Some people have severe lapses in judgment when feeling irritated, pressured thus more apt to let fear drive their motives. And, they have the idea they can get away with it. As it is said online and offline…in the end, no one is “hurt”. “Stick and stones” et al. That is the excuse they give themselves to scratch the cognitive dissonance itch saying “you probably should not do that”.
Sadism is not trolling. Sadism is what consenting individuals do on their own private time, since the term comes from a sexual history.
And finally, “personality disorder”.
A recent study found a specific demographic, within a field of work, possessing traits lending toward psychosis: comedians.
And, from the article–
However, the findings should not be taken as evidence of a link between comic talent and mental illness, said James McCabe, a senior lecturer at the Institute of Psychiatry in London.
The study had found an association between the thinking styles of comedians and mania, rather than psychosis in the sense that psychiatrists would use the term, he added.
Paul Jenkins, chief executive of the charity Rethink Mental Illness, said: "These are interesting findings, but we must make sure we guard against the ‘mad creative genius’ stereotype. Mental Illnesses like schizophrenia can affect anyone, whether they are creative or not. […]
I have a few personality disorders. Having one or more does not make someone a bad person, unless they show otherwise.
In contrast, exhibiting the traits of a personality disorder does not equal a diagnosis; either formalized or undiagnosed. One does not need a personality disorder–or really, any sort of mental illness–to classify as a heartless smear by the majority.
The final consideration deals with co-morbid disorders. I have a few on that list. Those few are not considered “psychotic” by society’s opinion; output as diction.
The truth? I wrote it elsewhere, quoted here as one final thought.
There are two types of people in this world. The 98% are people like you and I. We make mistakes, sometimes dishonest if the opportunity presents itself but we do regret our actions if caught and shape up quickly. The last 2% are truly evil and are sometimes the most vocal. You find this percentage split in every single group. Most of the Internet trolling is perpetuated by the 2%. The 98% either attempt to fight it, ignore it (that straddle between ignorance and stupidity) or are stupid enough to perpetuate it through their near-selfish ignorance but don’t realize the gravity of their shitty actions.
I will say the article saves itself at its very end, but did not need the sensational words before it.
The next time you encounter a troll online, remember:
These trolls are some truly difficult people.
It is your suffering that brings them pleasure, so the best thing you can do is ignore them.
That is good advice to have offline as well as online. Like, the next time someone antagonizes when driving on the road, by tailgating or cutting in and off.
I hope my words above count for something learned this week to any who care to read and listen.
To those, I say: Thank you all for listening.