In a previous post, Anyone Can Look Tough Behind a Computer I, I talked about the different types of harassment and bullying that can happen online. When it happens to minors it’s known as cyber bullying. For adults the phenomenon is called cyber harassment or cyber stalking. There is another instance however, where minors and adults can face unwanted ridicule or embarrassment. This is type of useless and unwanted harassment is trolling.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with the term, a troll is basically someone who posts inflammatory and inappropriate remarks on message boards, forums, blogs, chat rooms, Facebook comments, groups and wall posts, and even Twitter. The people and places trolls tend to target are usually chosen at random. However, they tend to inhabit places that cover controversial topics such as politics and religion or places where there is lack of moderation (like social networking sites). The purpose of trolling is to provoke other users to give an emotional response. Once they provoke people to react to their comments, trolls usually stop participating in the conversation and just watch the reactions of those around them.
There’s is no solid explanation as to why trolls behave the way they do. Most people think trolls have a bully mentality. People troll as a way to gain attention and recognition from others. Seeing the reactions of others makes trolls feel powerful and as if they have control of others. It gives them an ego boost. If you ask a troll the reasoning behind their behavior, most will tell you that they see it as a game and a fun way to pass the time. (The same explanation a bully would offer up.)
Usually trolls do not pose a huge threat. As mentioned previously, they think it’s a game and just want attention. If they’re are ignored they usually go away. However, there has been instances where trolling has turned into stalking. In cases like this, it’s still best to ignore the troll but save any messages that could be considered threatening. If the behavior escalates, you may need to contact the police.