Maybe they're just terrible people

I'm fascinated by trolls, mainly because a former friend became one. It's interesting to read about the darkness that resides within these people.

Troll with it:

...the data exposed a quite different reality: internet tossers are just tossers, whether online or in real life.

In other words: the internet isn’t making people rotten, it’s just handing the rotten people a bigger microphone.

Taken together, these studies sketch out a revised model of what online culture does to our discourse. The internet offers toxic people a new outlet for their bile; that bile attracts other toxic people, who amplify it.


The dark tetrad of personality traits

I’ve dealt with someone in my life who really enjoys trolling. I no longer talk to him, but it got me interested in why someone would want to be so intentionally unpleasant. Here are some explanations.

The Making of an American Nazi:

In recent years, psychologists have found a powerful connection between trolling and what’s known as the “dark tetrad” of personality traits: psychopathy, sadism, narcissism, and Machiavellianism. The first two traits are significant predictors of trolling behavior, and all four traits correlate with enjoyment of trolling.

Psychologists have identified the kind of emotional intelligence that makes internet trolls so mean:

High levels of cognitive empathy make these people adept at recognizing what will upset someone, and knowing when they’ve pushed the right buttons. The lack of affective empathy allows trolls not to experience or internalize the emotional experience of their victims.

Who Are Internet Trolls? Psychologists Build a Profile:

Trolls glorify in their own worldview. As such, they bait others of different bends on social media in order to mock and abuse them. They’re motivated by a need for attention, by boredom, by a flash of excitement due to causing others pain, or by exacting revenge.

Naming Evil: Dark Triad, Tetrad, Malignant Narcissism:

What is evil? Is malignant narcissism “the quintessence of evil”? Is the mix of extreme and maladaptive psychopathy + narcissism + Machiavellianism + sadism the recipe for evil?

Constructing the cyber-troll: Psychopathy, sadism, and empathy:

Here’s a link to the study referenced in the above articles. It’s paywalled, but there are many ways to get access to it for free.