Sunday, February 16, 2014
Who Knew? Trollism Is a Disease of the Mind.
Just go to the comments section of the National Post, Sun News, FOX News or even The G&M, and you'll find them gathered there, trolls spewing out utterly predictable hatred and venom that can seem to border on derangement.
It turns out they are deranged.
In the past few years, the science of Internet trollology has made some strides. Last year, for instance, we learned that by hurling insults and inciting discord in online comment sections, so-called Internet "trolls" (who are frequently anonymous) have a polarizing effect on audiences, leading to politicization, rather than deeper understanding of scientific topics.
That's bad, but it's nothing compared with what a new psychology paper has to say about the personalities of so-called trolls themselves. The research, conducted by Erin Buckels of the University of Manitoba and two colleagues, sought to directly investigate whether people who engage in trolling are characterized by personality traits that fall in the so-called "Dark Tetrad": Machiavellianism (willingness to manipulate and deceive others), narcissism (egotism and self-obsession), psychopathy (the lack of remorse and empathy), and sadism (pleasure in the suffering of others).
It is hard to underplay the results: The study found correlations, sometimes quite significant, between these traits and trolling behavior. What's more, it also found a relationship between all Dark Tetrad traits (except for narcissism) and the overall time that an individual spent, per day, commenting on the Internet.
The study even resulted in a handy chart.
I have consulted an index of medical prefixes and suffixes to try to formulate an appropriate term for this disorder. Some alternatives are trollasthenia, trollemisis, hypertrollitis, or trollepsis.
(p.s. - If you're a leftard or a loonie leftie or a Lieberal you should bookmark the study linked above. That could come in handy for your next troll attack. You might want to refer them to the study and then encourage them to seek professional help.)