The entire point of trolling is to wreak havoc on websites and to annoy, offend, shock, insult or humiliate others for the sake of a laugh. It seems nowadays that Trolling has become a widely accepted practice, due to the fact that it is everywhere. No matter where you turn, there’s always someone waiting behind the virtual corner to ridicule your online activities.
Most of the time it is just all just fun and games, people being stupid for the sake of being stupid but sometimes it goes beyond that. Sometimes trolling goes too far. Remember when members of the hacktivist group Anonymous all signed into to Habbo Hotel, made identical characters and flooded the game, making it impossible for other people to get into the pool area? I personally found that hilarious, trolling can be funny when nobody gets hurt, the problem is though, trolling isn’t always harmless.
There is a growing trend towards hateful misogynist trolling and because of this women on the internet are being tormented, ridiculed and even threatened. It starts with those silly ‘get back into the kitchen’ and ‘make me a sandwich’ jokes but leads to so much more. Female journalists and bloggers have reported serious incidences where they have repeatedly been mooched or abused and even threatened violently or sexually, simply for being women who dare to voice their opinions on the internet.
There have been cases where Trolling has been used as a form of psychological bullying. Jessica Leonhardt, formerly known as KerliGirl13 on YouTube suffered a severe mental breakdown after her attention-seeking behaviours in her YouTube videos caused her to become the target of a mass scale 4chan raid. People made fun of her, made parodies of her videos and threatened to beat her if she didn’t stop uploading annoying clips. She was only eleven at the time and was affected very strongly by all the negative hype surrounding her. Her Father reacted to this on you tube, only making things worse as his reaction became world famous and resulted in the creation of even more parody videos.
So what is it about internet culture that facilitates Trolling? The answer Anonymity. I have come to realise that people on the internet feel they have the power to say and do what they want as long as their identities remain unknown. With an anonymous identity people aren’t restricted by consequence and without restraints the worst aspects of their personalities shine through. I find it strange that a world like this exists online where people say things that would never be said in the real world. Like why is it socially acceptable to use derogatory language like gay or fag on the net, but not in real life? this is something I will never understand.
One thing I do understand, however, is that Trolls do what they do in order to get a reaction. They feed off your anger, so the best way beat them, in my experience, is not to acknowledge them, they can’t troll you if you don’t let them.