Why do people troll?

14 July 2014

What is trolling?
Trolling is the act of provoking or inciting arguments with the deliberate intent to obtain an emotional response and to disrupt genuine discussion on the Internet. Trolling by definition, is to be a disingenuous bastard on the Internet. Trolling seeks to attack people emotionally through a screen but not real-life. It is a psychology on human-computer interaction and virtual worlds. Comparing human to human interaction in real-life (e.g. bullying, playing pranks) to trolling is incorrect, because the user can choose to simply ignore, filter, block, delete, scroll or even move to the next page. The user has full control over what he/she wants to see and how he/she wants to respond through anonymity, privacy settings and so on.

So why troll?
There is no definitive answer as to the reason for trolling; however, trolling usually poses a question to you, your existence or your life. Usually, it's one of the following:

1. Why so serious?
2. What fun is there in poker if you cannot see the reactions of the players?
3. Do you truly understand and respect what freedom of speech is?
4. Are you aware of the concept of "ignore", "block", "delete", "scroll down" and "move to the next comment/page"?
5. How would you and the people here actually react to this?

The very existence of these questions is the very reason why people troll - to see you become clueless to these questions through your angered response. It's funny in the same way children make fun of one another through words like "your mother" where mature adults don't find it funny. In essence, trolling is childish.

If trolling is a problem for you, think about this example. Why do you simply ignore those 200 junk mails you get everyday? Why don't you report each and every one of them for harassing you over and over again, even when some of them are phishing scams? Well, because they're anonymous so you don't know how to get to them, and they're in your Junk folder. Problem solved. So why should trolling be a problem for you? The user has control over what he/she wants to see, and how he/she wants to respond. Remember that.

What about trolling with threats?
Some trolls target people with threats, like Justin Bieber for example. Some even go to the extent to blur the line between a real death-threat and trolling for fun. If no real threat is observable, then it is not wrong thanks to freedom of speech and expression. Of course, that itself is a hotly debated topic. There is a concern where even satirical comments can be regarded as a threat. One shouldn't be so sure to regard trolling as an ultimately wrong thing to do. It's just not as simple as one would like to think of it.