Tag Archives: Jerk

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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Stop Signs Are Not Suggestions

When you see an octagonal, red sign with the word STOP written in big, white, bold letters standing tall on the side of the road, the correct behavior is:

a) Laugh and speed up
b) No cop, no stop
c) Slow down, look carefully to see if there are any people or pets and then speed through intersection
d) Tap the breaks once, slightly, then continue
e) What stop sign? Was that what that text was?
f) Actually come to a complete stop. Make sure it’s safe to go and then proceed.

Unhappily, the answer to that question might come to a surprise to a lot of people.

If the sample size by which I’m going is indicative of the population as a whole, most of them seem to believe the answer is anything from a) to e).

Yeah, I’m getting a bit touchy about the whole thing.

There’s a stop sign at the intersection of our cul de sac and the slightly less minor road that connects us to the outside world. The stop sign is at the top of a hill on the connecting road so there’s reduced visibility going both ways. That is, as you’re approaching the stop sign, you can’t see what’s happening on the other side.

And, yet, people just blow through that stop sign like it’s not even there.

There are at least 10 little dudes under the age of 10 living in a very narrow radius of that stop sign. These are kids without the normal ability to think their way out of a paper bag or notice a nuclear explosion going on if they’re busy doing something else. They’re kids.

But these deadly drivers just don’t care. It’s more important that they save the several SECONDS it would take them to actually stop at the sign than it is to worry about the safety of the people, kids and pets who actually live in the area.

It drives me absolutely bonkers when this happens.

Heck, last year while a group of six kids were waiting right next to the stop sign for their bus, I was out walking Buzz, the garbage disposal who walks like a dog, when a car pulled near the stop sign. It didn’t stop. So I stepped in front of the car, intending to force it to obey the law or hit me.

The jerk driving the car still didn’t slow down. He drove around me, rolled down his window and began loudly cursing at me for being in the way. It was only because I didn’t want to set an even worse example for the kids that I didn’t hurl the package of dog poop I had in my hand through his open window.

But it was close. Oh, so very close.

So here’s the big takeaway, dudes. Especially in a residential area, those stop signs are there for a reason. If you’re so late that the extra seconds you’ll gain by not stopping will actually matter, then you’re too late so you might as well slow down and get there safely.

STOP at the STOP signs, folks. Don’t be the driver who blazes through the sign and then hits another car or a person. You’re not that dude.

Don’t be stupid: Stop at the sign.

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Congratulations, Dude! And More From The Expo

Congratulations go out to our new favorite dude, Aaron C. He’s the lucky dude who won that fantastic WebMD baby prize pack.

You had to be at it to win it, but he was there and he did win. At the Baby Shower & Toddler Expo, Barry and I set up a nice little bowl (actually a former container for trail mix from Tarzhay) so people could drop their contact information and possibly win the great stuff.

WebMD is a very nice outfit, quite generous.

So, Aaron C.? We’re trying to reach you by e-mail so we can find a way to get you the prize package. If you know Aaron C., and, really, why wouldn’t you?, give him a pat on the back and a hearty smile, one that just barely hides the jealousy seething within as you contemplate the raw, appalling emotional wound festering inside you all because you decided to sit home last weekend.

And now for something. . . not so completely different.

Here’s a little something I wrote during the Expo. Names have been changed to protect the innocent. All events are fictional, and any resemblance to any person or group, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

Barry is dancing again.

He’s dancing to Hell’s House Band. I’ll have nightmares about this for years to come. Those appalling puppet things, with their blank, dead eyes, moving in hitching, jerking spasms that only vaguely resemble human musculature. And Barry. His face contorted in some rictus, rather than a smile.

And he’s . . . moving. I can’t call it dancing, I just can’t. There’s something missing in this, some essential joy that has been driven out in his all-consuming desire to please his puppety masters.

This Expo has been so long. I’ve forgotten the warmth of the sun, and the feel of clean rain swirling down from storm-tossed clouds. The music just won’t stop and. . .


Oh, no.

My foot. It’s. . . It’s twitching. In rhythm. And Hell’s House Band is still playing.

I think it’s too late for me.

Run! Run! Save yourselves!

Ah, good times. Good times.

Wait, I hear you asking. You said the names were changed to protect the innocent and yet there’s Barry’s name up there, bold as brass. To which I answer, “Yes. And?”

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