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Internet Trolls: Blech

Trolls have moved out from under the bridge and into your computer.

Not those kinds of trolls, exactly. Although, I suppose that, under the skin, they pretty much are the same.

Mythological trolls are horrible, vicious, psychotic narcissists which delight in harassing travelers who have the temerity to actually walk along on public paths leading over a bridge. Internet trolls are pretty much like that, except replace bridge with comment section and walk along public paths with exist.

An internet troll is someone who delights in the anonymity of the internet trolls, like their mythological counterparts, are horrible creatures who take delight in suffering.internet to tease, harass, humiliate, argue with, denigrate, abuse, make fun of anyone at all they happen to run across. An internet troll is someone who would go on a message board for survivors of sexual abuse and start talking about rape fantasies, or post pictures of bondage erotica where participants look unwilling.

They are, in short, asshats of the first order.

And, it turns out, my off-hand description of an internet troll actually has some basis in fact. 

The research, conducted by Erin Buckels of the University of Manitoba and two colleagues, sought to directly investigate whether people who engage in trolling are characterized by personality traits that fall in the so-called Dark Tetrad: Machiavellianism (willingness to manipulate and deceive others), narcissism (egotism and self-obsession), psychopathy (the lack of remorse and empathy), and sadism (pleasure in the suffering of others).

It is hard to underplay the results: The study found correlations, sometimes quite significant, between these traits and trolling behavior. What’s more, it also found a relationship between all Dark Tetrad traits (except for narcissism) and the overall time that an individual spent, per day, commenting on the Internet.

So, yes, it seems that internet trolls are willing to manipulate and deceive others, believe it is their right to harass anyone they choose, lack remorse and empathy and are sadists who take pleasure in the suffering of others.

Yeah. That sounds about right. Fortunately, we haven’t been witness to many of these types around here. I mean, I did get a piece of hate mail that cast aspersions on my ancestry and physical composition, but I saw that more, well, just a jerk.

The thing about trolls is they like to stick around and see the results of their vicious behavior. The sadder thing is that these trolls actually glory in calling themselves trolls, they proclaim it and, it was this very sense of self-satisfaction that led the researchers to many of those they polled to create the study.

The researchers even constructed their own survey instrument, which they dubbed the Global Assessment of Internet Trolling, or GAIT, containing the following items:

I have sent people to shock websites for the lulz.

I like to troll people in forums or the comments section of websites.

I enjoy griefing other players in multiplayer games.

The more beautiful and pure a thing is, the more satisfying it is to corrupt.

Yes, some people actually say they agree with such statements. And again, doing so was correlated with sadism in its various forms, with psychopathy, and with Machiavellianism. Overall, the authors found that the relationship between sadism and trolling was the strongest, and that indeed, sadists appear to troll because they find it pleasurable. “Both trolls and sadists feel sadistic glee at the distress of others,” they wrote. “Sadists just want to have fun … and the Internet is their playground!”

Horrifying, but true. The only sure remedy to this sort of behavior is to make sure you “Don’t feed the trolls.” That is, don’t react to their miserable behavior. If you don’t react, they don’t get the response they need to feel good about themselves.

It’s sad, really, that these people can’t find something constructive to do with all their energy.

This kind of behavior is why it’s so important that we parents work hard to establish and encourage empathy and compassion in our little dudes and dudettes. Greed and selfishness comes easy. We’ve got to work to understand and support the other.

What do you say? Let’s stomp out the trolls.


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Dude Review: The Incredible Hercules: The Mighty Thorcules

by Richard

I’m going to keep reviewing these until at least one of you drops by the comments section to let me know that you actually bought a collection of the best comic book being published today. And, no, that’s not damning with faint praise. I love The Incredible Hercules: The Mighty Thorcules. It pushes all my buttons. It’s got humor, mythology, humor, butt kicking and smart alekry up the wazzoo. In short, it’s incredible. (Sorry, couldn’t resist.) Oh, yeah. And this collection has the best sound effect ever committed to paper. Take a look.

Come on! How can you not love the purple nurple of the gods?

Let me explain. For reasons too complicated to go into right now, the Incredible Hercules has to pose as his rival, the Mighty Thor (hence the title) and, this being a superhero comic, the two get into a fight. Now, Thor isn’t used to fighting bare chested. Normally that wouldn’t be a problem. But, see, Hercules isn’t above fighting dirty to win and is willing to give out a purple nurple (notice the sound effect “nurp” is, in fact, purple).

Being a serialized comic book, this could be a bit confusing, if it weren’t for the fact that The Incredible Hercules has the most inventive and fun recap pages ever speeding people up to brought. Basically, Herc has to impersonate Thor to stop an invasion of Earth by some particularly dire elves. Things do not go as planned and Thor has to impersonate Herc to stop the whole thing. Once again, things do not go as planned.

Dude! That hurts just looking at it.

Thor, normally one of the most noble fair-fightingest of the Marvel universe takes well to playing the part of Hercules. Perhaps too well. And, of course, notice the sound effect which, if sounded out, will sound suspiciously like nut crack. Hmm. Wonder where they got the idea for that sound effect? (To get a better look at this and the next picture, make with the clicky to enlargen.) [What? That’s a word, right?]

In the series, Herc has been accompanied by a young genius named Amadeus Cho, the seventh-smartest person on the planet. And someone who has even worse impulse control than the notoriously scatterbrained Hercules. In alternating issues, this collection follows Cho as he tries to find out what really happened when his parents were killed.

He’s looking for the man who planted the bomb, not so much for revenge, but to find out if his sister is really alive and, if so, where she is. When Cho finally does find the mastermind behind his personal tragedy, he’s confronted by an aged, bitter and more than slightly insane version of himself and forced into a no-win, life-or-death situation. His solution to the dilemma is uniquely his own.

Because this is a comic book, I wanted to say a little bit about the art. Reilly Brown on the epic Thorcules arc is absolutely fantastic. I mean, you get the expressions you’ve been hoping for when someone describes the action. While Rodney Buchemi doesn’t quite reach those heights on the Amadeus Cho sections, it still does a nice job of telling the story.

In all, I’ll give this book five (5) dudes out of five. It’s, sorry again, incredible. Go out and buy it now. Read it and laugh.

Otherwise. . . Well, let’s just say I wouldn’t want to be you.Let's run it up the flagpole and see who salutes.

Or your underwear.

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