A Pew Research Center survey published two years ago found that 70% of 18-to-24-year-olds who use the Internet had experienced harassment, and 26% of women that age said they’d been stalked online. This is exactly what trolls want. A 2014 study published in the psychology journal Personality and Individual Differences found that the approximately 5% of Internet users who self-identified as trolls scored extremely high in the dark tetrad of personality traits: narcissism, psychopathy, Machiavellianism and, especially, sadism.
This article refers to trolls throughout; a term I have always associated with annoying brats of all ages who consistently visit forums and chat rooms for the sole purpose of getting their “lulz” from pestering others. However, the term here carries more meaning as the depth of stupidity is displayed by these nefarious individuals. From urging depressed people to commit acts of suicide or homicide to visiting the social profiles of deceased individuals to defame their accounts or other such nonsense.
I agree wholeheartedly with one argument that the article makes. The Internet has always has annoyances, but the overall joy of the Internet was the idea of freedom of information and the sharing of ideas/cultures. There has been a desensitization which has occurred and allowed people to not fully comprehend the seriousness of their ridiculous behavior. Being far removed from the subjects, and not having to live in the wake of destruction caused by these acts, has fostered behavior from those who already have serious mental and social issues.
As a father, I am concerned about how my children will be harassed on the Internet. When I was a kid, you might have been hassled at school, but home was a respite from the hurt. When children are harassed through social media as well, there is no safe place to feel loved and accepted. It is our duty as parents to monitor and control the access we allow our children to the Internet so as to protect them and those they might be tempted to harass or stalk as well.
Do you believe the Internet has outgrown its usefulness? Do you see the value in this medium now? I am interested in knowing what my readers think about the current state of the Internet and what their thoughts are on how we might begin to repair the damage that has been done. There is no excuse for hate and intolerance. We may not always agree, but we can love and accept one another peacefully. I am not naive enough to believe we can fully put an end to bullying and hatred, but we all have a part to play in this battle.