Sunday, November 4, 2012
Cyber Trolls are sadistic Anti Social Networkers
The issue of cyber trolling shot into online prominence with the tragic suicide of the 15 year old Amanda Todd. Innocent and trusting Amanda, then 13 was convinced to flash her breasts by a smooth talking stranger over a webcam. The stranger captured this image and tried to blackmail her for more private sessions. When this failed, he mailed the picture to her friends and set off a relentless and vicious cycle of cyber bullying. So persistent was the cyber bullying which followed, that it ousted her from her school and locale, and even a full year later when she was trying to put her life together in another place and school, it caught up with her - leaving her nowhere to turn.
Wikipedia define a troll as “someone who posts inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community, such as a forum, chat room, or blog, with the primary intent of provoking readers into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion.”
The anonymous nature of social networks limits individual accountability, and fuels the resultant breakdown of social norms and rules which allows a small percentage of netizens called cyber trolls to indulge unchecked in vile and deviant behavior. Cyber trolls prowl social networks anonymously for every opportunity to post slanderous or downright insulting remarks on people both living and dead, who they may know in real life or are just strangers. They display no morals when writing demeaning comments on RIP pages, hurling hurtful taunts and issuing death threats to children, teenagers and even celebrities.
If individuals try to fend off their vitriol, they retaliate in packs often encouraged by others who apparently laugh at their jokes; fuelling their sadism and egging them on.
Every person expects a certain amount of abuse as part of everyday social networking, but when it crosses a threshold, both children and adult have been driven to depression, drugs and ultimately attempt suicide, triggered by the ensuing feeling of helplessness. Help is not at hand from social networking sites as they refuse to police these messages and mediate content, regardless of whether it was "potentially" offensive or controversial unless it violates their terms of service.
One of the better options for victims is not to retaliate and try their best to ignore these comments. If they attempt to fight back, it is seen as a weakness which is exploited by the pack mentality of trolls and their supporters inviting a further barrage of spite.
Cybercitizens should not support cyber trolls by agreeing with them or egging them on. Not feeding these trolls and condemning their activities will help rein in their deviant behavior. While incidents of cyber bullying may be widespread, they vary in severity. Serious cases are few, but concerns due to the potential of the problem do exist. It is also important for parents to be aware if their child is a victim or a perpetrator of cyber bullying.