Trolls Manipulate Our Inability to Let Other People Be Wrong

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“You’re feeding the troll. You need to stop replying to him.”

“Well, I don’t. Unless he says something wrong.”

“You see what you did there? That’s like saying, ‘don’t reply to him, except for 90% of the time.'”

People Act Especially Badly Online

I’m watching this all with great interest, as someone who has studied human behavior, formally when I was a psychological researcher and informally when I was a nosy person. And as someone who has a pretty large online following where people comment and discuss things among themselves.

People are notoriously prone to misbehavior online. A big part of this is that people generally perform worse when they feel like they aren’t being watched (this has been demonstrated well in research). The Internet contributes heavily to this sense of anonymity.

And also there are frankly people who get their kicks from rustling other people’s jimmies. Professional shit stirrers. Well, volunteer shit stirrers.

Trolling ain’t easy (or is it) — but it ain’t exactly lucrative.

Everyone Has to Ignore the Troll, or It Doesn’t Work

Anyway, I’ve noticed something about trolls: They go away if you ignore them. They do.

The trouble is that everyone has to ignore them. And if you get enough people together, someone — or several someones — will take the bait.

The bait is usually offensive, slanderous, and/or simply incorrect information. Because I’ve noticed something else: If you say something wrong, most people will have a hard time not correcting it. Now, there are some people who can pass these kinds of opportunities by. I’m like that. I see a lot that is incorrect in my daily life.  But even if I am around someone who is saying something wrong, I generally don’t correct them. Especially if we’re not terribly close and it’s not something that matters (very few things matter by the way).

Others though? Not such an easy thing to leave alone.

So the troll gets fed. Over and over.

Because that’s their power: Trolls manipulate our inability to let other people be wrong.

Featured Image: CC 0 – Pixabay