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Dealing With Sadistic Internet Trolls, Part I

Trolls are cyberbullies who often use sophisticated tech skills to slander your character.

Troll Psychology 101

If you’re online and haven’t been trolled yet, you will–especially if you have a business and/or social media presence.

Definition of Internet Troll—

“An Internet troll is someone who intrudes into a discussion and posts comments deliberately designed to upset or disrupt it. Oftentimes, there is no apparent purpose behind their comments except to upset everyone else involved, sometimes a very specific, emotionally vulnerable person. They lie, offend and wildly exaggerate for the sole purpose of offending” (and getting responses confirming they’ve done damage).

Trolls are dedicated cyberbullies who often use sophisticated tech skills to distort information about you to slander your character and behavior. It’s difficult not to take it personally, but that’s exactly what they want. Ultimately, they are determined to destroy as many people and companies as they can with their calculated vitriol. One of their favorite activities is triggering fights between friends and strangers. Again, understand that you are simply another convenient target for their cruelty.

Not Everyone Posting Ugly Comments Is A Troll

When especially stressed, many of us have reactively posted online comments or written emails that we later regret. A quick apology can often fix the situation, but not always.

If you are a business target, the best initial strategy is to either ignore or make light of the situation. If it’s a social media-based customer hostile comment (often not from a real troll) you can both apologize and use humor to diffuse the situation.

If you are dealing with a genuine troll, you’ll know soon enough. Best not to argue with or counteract anyone who attacks you online because that’s just going to fuel the fire. Trolls may be disgruntled, cruel teenagers fueled by high hormones and deficient prefrontal lobe development looking for a ‘good time.’ Most often, however, they’re adults using the Internet to unleash their underlying vicious nature, probably nothing you’d suspect if you were to meet them face-to-face.

Zoo Specimen Troll Behavior

Two recent online personality profile studies with over a thousand subjects found that Internet trolls exhibit off-the-charts levels of narcissism, sadism and psychopathy (low empathy and disregard for others). One of the articles concludes with the following– “Both trolls and sadists feel sadistic glee at the distress of others. Trolls are sadists who just want to have fun … and the Internet is their playground!”

Where Trolls Hide Out

Trolls can be found online on blog sites, social networking sites, multiplayer games, discussion forums, news sites, company sites and forums. In other words, anywhere… They especially love to exploit kid/teenager sites.

Impossible to overlook and, in my opinion, calling for strong legal sanctions are trolls who target those with serious illnesses and people who have recently lost loved ones (often slandering the deceased). Also in their own special category of vicious, are the kids, often in collusion with their ‘friends’, sometimes even their parents, who attack socially marginal schoolchildren–taunting them to commit suicide, too often with success.

Preview of Part II

Ignoring or making light humor of troll posts may not be enough. In Part II of this article, I’ll outline additional steps you can take to defend yourself.

Graphic-Trolling

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