Internet Trolls and Roman Catholic Pope Francis

Trolls are everywhere on the internet where there is social interaction. A troll is anyone who participates in a internet discussion solely to provoke a negative reaction from others. They are not only disruptive and anti-social but can really clamp down on the free flowing discussion. With the anonymity of the internet this seems to unlock the nasty side of human beings. Even the venerated Roman Catholic Church’s Pope Francis has had experiences with trolls.

“The speed with which information is communicated exceeds our capacity for reflection and judgment, and this does not make for more balanced and proper forms of self-expression.” Pope Francis, source

I believe trolling is essentially human. Trolls are the squeaky wheel that shouts for attention, all at the expense of all others participating in the discussion. They share similarities to a spoiled brat kid that misbehaves in front of his/her parents during the after dinner discussion with guests. Certainly hard to ignore, but with some tough love such as some solitary time, given repeated correction, which could take years, the brat will eventually learn that such outbursts are unacceptable bahaviour and thus cease.

There is no similar control for the internet troll. There is no parental figure, though forum admins can help. There is anonymity on the internet, which seems to encourage such behaviour. There is no face to face interaction, which usually mediates anti-social outbursts.

Then there is the reward: the attention they get from their outbursts. Trolls can become infamous for their outbursts. I do not understand why our society gives them the soapbox to further their disruptive behaviour. In a way society breeds and feeds trolls by giving them a platform to speak while rewarding them for bad behaviour. Such social conditions not only encourage trolls but give them a certain approval. Is it that the greater society really likes this behaviour?

Contrary views can be voiced without the anti-social and abrasive behaviour of trolls. Many forums are very well regulated and will kick out a troll very quickly. The results are, as expected, very good. Social discourse and the free flow of ideas are encouraged. People feel comfortable speaking out, and this encourages a rethink of subjects thought to be correct. This leads to more and better knowledge.

Do not feed the troll.

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