In yet another instance of science belatedly confirming what common sense has already told us, a new paper from researchers at three Canadian universities concludes that Internet trolls aren’t just mean — they’re sadists and psychopaths.
The paper, published last week in the journal Personality and Individual Differences, surveyed a group of several hundred on their Internet behaviors and personal traits. It found that trolling correlated with higher rates of sadism, psychopathy and Machiavellianism, a certain lack of scruples when it comes to deceiving or manipulating other people.
“… it might be said that online trolls are prototypical everyday sadists,” the paper rules.
I used to try to convince people that there’s no way to conceive of a retort so clever, so devastating that the troll will actually throw in the towel, or feel bad about him/herself. By the time you hit the “reply” button, you’ve already lost the battle. I don’t much bother with that anymore.
…although I’ll grant that the temptation to troll this thread is strong…