Wednesday, July 13, 2016

The Psychology of Trolling

Why DO people engage in trolling behaviour? What motivates them, and what are some effective ways for getting them to change their behaviour? The video above touches on all that.

This video from the SciShow YouTube Channel, part of Hank Green’s YouTube empire (he’s one of the Vlog Brothers, among other things), was released a few days ago and talks about some of the science behind the sort of behaviour I was talking about on Monday. One of the things I was most surprised about was that very little research has been done on trolling behaviour, despite how important the Internet has become in our lives.

I’m actually not sure that knowing the scientific explanations for trolling behaviour really helps that much, especially if one is the victim of it. However, it’s good to know that finding that sweet spot between no comment monitoring and tight-fisted control of discussion can help reduce the truly awful, toxic trolling behaviour, and that’s good for everyone.

Even so, I still think that in open online discussion forums—Facebook, YouTube, news websites—it’s still usually best to just walk away. Understanding why people troll is important, but keeping ourselves safe is more important. After all, there’s no online discussion in existence that’s worth enduring if it’s toxic.

Still, I would like to see more research into trolling behaviour so we can find better ways of stopping it. We all ought to be able to comment whenever we want without risking troll attacks.

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