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Who amongst us was surprised when the results of a recent survey found that Internet trolls are actually psychopaths and sadists? Canadian researchers applied personality inventories to Internet commenting styles and found that trolls are just as fucked-up as we thought, i.e. more likely than other people to show signs of sadism (deriving pleasure from hurting others), psychopathy, and Machiavellianism (disregard for how your immoral behavior affects others).  I am surprised that narcissistic personality disorder didn’t crop up in there, too, but perhaps it can’t be diagnosed over an Internet survey.

xoJane explained as much in their recent essay, “I Was Friends With An Internet Troll,” about a woman who befriended troll and later came to regret it.  “[A]ll I saw materialize was a really sad dude, a man who was drunk more often than not, and always in the middle of an argument,” wrote author Bree Davies. “This is the picture of an Internet troll in real life: an unhappy, substance-abusing, violent, unemployed liar with no friends. I know this isn’t the story of every Internet troll, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was the story of many of them.” Indeed.

Trolls are well-known for glomming onto people/sites and desperately trying to provoke any sort of reaction that they can, positive or negative. (Not surprisingly, Davies’ real-life troll friend repeatedly acts like a complete stalkerish nutburger until he finally lashes out at her in public and police are called.) I’m not interested in meeting — and certainly not befriending — them in real life. But still, having had an extensive history with trolls for about 10 years now (first through publications that I write for, then eventually on Twitter and Tumblr), I am admittedly curious about them. I don’t want them to have access to my life, but I have questions about theirs. Like, I want to understand how they got to be that way. Don’t you? Just a little bit?

If I could, here’s 18 sincere questions I really would like to ask Internet trolls.

  1. How do you have so much time to troll on the Internet? Like, you literally spend more time writing comments online than I spend doing anything.
  2. Do you have a job?
  3. If you don’t have a job, how do you afford the Internet connection? Or do you just do your nonstop trolling all the time from the free computer access at the library?
  4. Can you give us a general idea of how much time each day you spend in the sunlight?
  5. Do you own a fedora? Not trying to profile, just asking.
  6. What was your childhood like? I don’t mean to be unkind but … is that why you do this?
  7. Are you really as upset, angry and worked up as you seem in comments?
  8. Or do you just think it’s funny to fake your rage?
  9. What kind of gratification does trolling on the Internet provide for you?
  10. What activities did you enjoy before you were an Internet troll?
  11. Have you ever made a nice comment on the Internet?
  12. Have you ever wanted to make a nice comment on the Internet but felt too embarrassed?
  13. Do other trolls troll you?
  14. Who is your favorite writer to troll and why?
  15. What renowned troll most inspires you?
  16. What makes your trolling style unique in a crowded field of trolls?
  17. What advice would you give to aspiring trolls?
  18. Do you feel unfairly stereotyped as an sexist and/or racist and/or homophobic and/or transphobic jerk with a hair-trigger rage problem who is so ugly and unhappy that he/she projects all his/her issues onto other people as a way to cope?

Do I think most trolls would possess the self-awareness to actually answer these questions (at least the serious ones)? Well, that’s another question…

Email me at [email protected] Follow me on Twitter.

[Image of an Internet troll via Shutterstock]

The Frisky

This post originally appeared on The Frisky. Republished with permission.

 

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  • know

    Just because you troll doesn’t mean you’re anonymous.

    I personally know a african girl who trolls the hell out of people on twitter her tweets are against light skin people, black men, black Americans girls, lighter african women, Africans ladies from other african countries and occasionally whites she constantly thinks she’s in competition with african American women and light skin african women, white women, latinas over african men and white men.

    The things she tweets about is straight off the web from a troll with different accounts on different forums. it’s crazy cause she really attractive…. not ugly, has a lot of friends, guys are interested in her but thats not enough for her it’s pretty deep

    PS i know she comments on clutch, so I know she’ll read this hey boo..

  • Troll_question_answerer

    I have trolled, and I’m interested in giving you the answers it SEEMS like you want. I think you’ll find that you make assumptions that are untrue, which inspires me to answer this list:

    I’ll start off with saying something you should already know. All people, even trolls, are different. So your answers will will only hip you to one person. That’s all I can give you.

    1.How do you have so much time to troll on the Internet? Like, you literally spend more time writing comments online than I spend doing anything.

    When I “troll” (I don’t even really know what that means), it’s the same amount of tme anyone else uses to post “non-trolling” posts. I wasn’t aware that trolls post more. Maybe it just seems like more because it annoys you.

    2.Do you have a job?

    This seems like a corrolary to the first question’s assumtion that troll-people have all day to do nothing and nothing’s going on. I have an out-and-out career. Government contractor. I am upper-middle class and own a home. Like most men, I have a sports hobby, and on the side I draw a web comic with black protagonists ( 1/2 of whom are female). I do not vote because I think it’s a sham, and our economy doesn’t work that way. I’m married and have been for 12 years.

    3.If you don’t have a job, how do you afford the Internet connection? Or do you just do your nonstop trolling all the time from the free computer access at the library?

    See #2 This is the third question in a row based on that incorrect assumption. This was the point at which I decided to answer all these questions (and I stated to wonder if you actually were being serious).

    4.Can you give us a general idea of how much time each day you spend in the sunlight?

    Well, my job is in IT, and I don’t write/draw outside, but I run 9 miles a week rain or shine and play softball in the summer.

    5.Do you own a fedora? Not trying to profile, just asking.

    Only baseball caps. Go Phillies!

    6.What was your childhood like? I don’t mean to be unkind but … is that why you do this?

    Bikes, comics, videogames, little league. Military brat. Lived coast-to-coast.

    7.Are you really as upset, angry and worked up as you seem in comments?

    Yes. I do think life is pretty black and white and when I see people say self destructive things (I wanna be thin, but I love Mcdonalds?!… This business hates black people, but I buy their stuff because I can’t lay off)), I jump all over that lack of logic.

    8.Or do you just think it’s funny to fake your rage?

    100% truth from me. I fake nothing.

    9.What kind of gratification does trolling on the Internet provide for you?

    I love hold a mirror up to people, and hate hypocrisy. From all this information I gave you, you will critique me. You will ignore what you learned about you and critique me. The difference between us is that it will actuall make me think and I will consider changing if you have a point. It’s my strength.

    10.What activities did you enjoy before you were an Internet troll?
    See#4

    11.Have you ever made a nice comment on the Internet?

    Plenty. Usually it’s backup to someone else making the ame point I am.

    12.Have you ever wanted to make a nice comment on the Internet but felt too embarrassed?

    100% truth from me. I fake nothing.

    13.Do other trolls troll you?

    Usually the response to me if from people who feel guilty under my (admitted) judgement, and lash out. I don’t think you call that trolling. I call it being defensive. Because that’s what it is and I don’t use “internet words”. The old words work fine.

    14.Who is your favorite writer to troll and why?

    I have no idea who any of you are and don’t care. I read the headlines, read the logic in the body, and post. I don’t know who wrote these questions.

    15.What renowned troll most inspires you?

    Don’t know what you’re getting at, but I’m sure you know how wrong it is to ASSUME PEOPLE YOU DON’T LIKE ALL KNOW EACH OTHER (shame on you)! Maybe now you know why white people do that.

    16.What makes your trolling style unique in a crowded field of trolls?

    Again, I don’t know other “trolls”.

    17.What advice would you give to aspiring trolls?

    “To live well is the best revenge.” Someone gets on me about my view (judgement) of them, say, having dangerous sex or eating horrible food…well, I know where 90% of the time that will lead. I’ll revel in my monogamy and heathy body, and let their defensive, guilty behind stay mad and say “Hey, I warned ’em”.

    18.Do you feel unfairly stereotyped as an sexist and/or racist and/or homophobic and/or transphobic jerk with a hair-trigger rage problem who is so ugly and unhappy that he/she projects all his/her issues onto other people as a way to cope?

    You forgot no job and no life, didn’t you? Anyway, I’d tell you that I’m not those things, but I think you NEED to believe this about “trolls”, and trying to convince someone of something they don’t want to believe, well…that’s worse than “trolling”.