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Big Guy

Internet Abuse and Mental Health

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Why do people participate on opinion boards?

I have recently been surprised by the negativity, name calling and aggressiveness by some posters on this board. I am in the process of writing some research on Internet boards and would appreciate some different views:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_forum

When different studies have asked participants why they spend time on these boards, the reactions vary: “debating issues that are important to you,” “chatting with others,” “making new friends,” “trolling others,” and “other.” But these boards continue to be dominated by what has been categorized as “trolls”. My opinion is that this board is in the same state. The negative folks have begun to dominate through sheer numbers.

These unhappy participants are described as people who 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). Internet forums have allowed them the ability to take normal, civil discussion and turn it into a means to satisfy their personal demons.

There are a number of posters whose posts I read and enjoy – not because I agree with them but because they post what they actually believe, often back that up with research, accept the fact that I disagree with them for my own reasons, are civil and seldom get into name calling or blaming the messenger for a message that they do not like. I have had interesting and informative contact with them: Army Guy, TimG, eyeball, kimmy, Michael Hardner, marcus, Accountability, BubberMiley, ?Impact, waldo, Topaz, Borges, SmallC, On Guard for Thee, Bob Macadoo, dre, The Squid, cybercoma, kactus, GostHacked, August1991, Bc_chick, WestCoastRunner, Moonlight Graham, jacee, CITIZEN_2015, Scott Mayers, capricorn, bcsapper, Wilber, Bonam, Hudson Jones.

I may have left somebody out but there are a couple of very frequent and prolific posters who appear to have the Dark Tetrad.

Another interesting view can be found at:

http://time.com/8265/internet-trolls-are-actually-sadists-study-finds/

Let's start by getting our definitions straight: “An Internet troll is someone who comes into a discussion and posts comments designed to upset or disrupt the conversation. Often, in fact, it seems like there is no real purpose behind their comments except to upset everyone else involved. Trolls will lie, exaggerate, and offend to get a response.” We have a few participants here who fit that description exactly. The question is why do they do this? Why do they try to instil discomfort, anger or irritation upon others – especially anonymous others?

Is this just aberrant behavior or is it mental illness?

I have no doubt that at least one of them will soon be posting here to blame Big Guy or others for their behavior. Denial seems to be one of the symptoms.

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Did you just call me Borges?

I believe that's strictly against forum rules and I think I'll have to report you. JERK! :huh:

To the thread, talking about politics with people IRL whom you actually care to spend time with is often an unpleasant affair. In my younger years I'd often like to turn family time into discussions about politics. It can get heated and it's certainly not worth the time an effort to fight with people you might otherwise love and/or respect. Or people you are forced to spend time with because of circumstance.

Enter the the online forum. People can debate other without the social consequences of doing it to people IRL. Some posters here irritate me, but it's my choice to engage in debate with them.

My concern is that there is a move amongst the internet to try and cause permanent damage to people's social and professional lives because of the opinions they have on the internet. It's why I don't go on Twitter, there are countless of examples of SJW ruining people's lives because of off colour jokes or people just stating an unpopular opinion.

TBH this forum is quite mild in its vitriol. It's refreshing.

Edited by Boges

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Perhaps people with mainstream opinions view non-mainstream positions as 'troll' positions in order to dismiss them without having to resort to the difficulty of using reason and evidence.

A good example is how members of the gynocentric establishment will often dismiss people that bring up men's rights issues (such as the suicide gap or the life expectancy gap) as trolls.

Or another example is how waldo dismisses my non-mainstream views on climate change and calls me a 'concern troll' because he can't defeat my well reasoned arguments and he needs to keep a belief in a false dichotomy of positions (alarmism vs denialism) in order to maintain his belief in his position.

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Wow - talk about internet abuse - I don't see this forum as being trollful :)- the general definition of a troll on here seems to be anyone who disagrees with the poster.

Seems to me that this is just a thinly veiled attempt to trash some unnamed posters which could speak to a borderline narcissistic personality disorder in itself, something more than one poster seems to suffer from.

People come here to discuss and often be entertained… especially by those with a supercilious disdain for other members.

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Places that this are generally use for verbal pitch battles in the contemporary culture war, by people that care just a little too much about politics and have just a little too much time on their hands.

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I agree with the Borg (sorry, you will never live that one down) that this forum is quite mild in its vitriol. I see a kind of community developing among prolific posters in all the various forums I have participated in. Very often individuals will have different types of interactions with others in that community. MLW is a fairly small community so it is easier to see those relationships developing. Often the 'trolling' behaviour I notice is between individuals, where those individuals will have different types of interaction with others.

Many on-line forums are active around politics, and many people think of politics like team sports. Sometimes it is just good natured chiding or shouting down your opponent like between Habs and Leafs fans (sorry Flames fans, you don't count). Unfortunately just like a football (as in European football) match can end up in a riot, so too does an on-line forum. If I was a catcher at the local ball diamond, I might make some comments to try and unnerve the batter, but at the end of the evening I would still want to sit down an have a beer and some laughs with him/her. It is not just up to those that are doing the trolling, but the rest of us to know when to walk away (don't feed the troll). Don't take yourself or others too seriously.

Go Rhinos go!

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...

Seems to me that this is just a thinly veiled attempt to trash some unnamed posters which could speak to a borderline narcissistic personality disorder in itself, something more than one poster seems to suffer from.

...

I would suggest sadistic would be more descriptive. People spend their free time on these boards for pleasure. They enjoy the participation. There are those who continually bait, tease, demean and do anything within the guidelines to instill either fear, discomfort or pain in others. One would have to assume that they enjoy what they are doing.

What kind of personality enjoys creating discomfort, pain and anger in other people?

I suggest that by definition this is not normal and certainly sadistic. Are these opinion boards becoming the haven for socially inept sadists? I am certainly not accusing using every participant of that shortcoming. The vast majority of posters here and on other boards use it for camaraderie, sharing of research and sharing views but this environment of anonymity draws those sick individuals with unhealthy agendas to hide beside and behind legitimate posters.

Unless of course one feels that it is healthy to cause and celebrate unhappiness in others.

Edited by Big Guy

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I would suggest sadistic would be more descriptive.

... this environment of anonymity draws those sick individuals with unhealthy agendas to hide beside and behind legitimate posters.

Unless of course one feels that it is healthy to cause and celebrate unhappiness in others.

There are those.

But I think they mainly "cause and celebrate" their own unhappiness. ;)

The ignore feature can be very useful when you just need a break from reading their posts.

I've noticed that the threads become much more sensible and more interesting when a few people's trolling/derailing/attack posts are thus hidden.

:)

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What kind of personality enjoys creating discomfort, pain and anger in other people?

Maybe they don't know they are doing it. Maybe they don't know what causes discomfort, pain and anger in other people.

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Maybe they don't know they are doing it. Maybe they don't know what causes discomfort, pain and anger in other people.

Or maybe it's deliberate and least in some.. the ignore function works well

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Or maybe it's deliberate and least in some.. the ignore function works well

No, there are two things I've never done on any forum. Report or ignore. Using the software, that is. I like to read the comments, but if they merit ignoring I just ignore them myself.

My point was that, unlike a real conversation, where interruptions and corrections are the norm, an internet site forces you to read (hear) the other person's entire point without any kind of simultaneous retort. A good example are the accusations of racism or bigotry that fly everytime one criticises someone who is not of an identical background. I think some people genuinely believe that they are making fair comment.

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Why do people participate on opinion boards?

Why does a kid (young white male) buy spray paint and create graffiti at 3 am? (In my Montreal neighbourhood, urban bombing is out of control.)

====

At least, if someone (old white male) posts to an opinion board (forum), it isn't ugly for other people who drive by or own the wall.

Edited by August1991

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No, there are two things I've never done on any forum. Report or ignore. Using the software, that is. I like to read the comments, but if they merit ignoring I just ignore them myself.

My point was that, unlike a real conversation, where interruptions and corrections are the norm, an internet site forces you to read (hear) the other person's entire point without any kind of simultaneous retort. A good example are the accusations of racism or bigotry that fly everytime one criticises someone who is not of an identical background. I think some people genuinely believe that they are making fair comment.

Point taken, but there are some, well one one in particular who is just so supercilious and rude there's no point in reading or responding.

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I have recently been surprised by the negativity, name calling and aggressiveness by some posters on this board.

Team A vs. Team B.

Welcome to politics, nationalism (Scott Adams calls it "identity") and I now reckon that it's just: life.

Years ago (when I was learning how to do this), I started this thread:

http://www.mapleleafweb.com/forums/topic/3403-hockey-movies-politics/?hl=team

Years later, my OP still makes me think - and its last few lines make me feel guilty.

Edited by August1991

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I seem to be engaging in political discourse with the people I know a lot less frequently over time. When I do it's usually local in nature or stems from whatever branch or level of government we always seem to be dealing with in our day to day lives. I don't know if it's just where I live but there seems to be an awful lot of government here. More than we need in some places and not enough in places we do so the tone of the discussion is usually tinged with frustration or resignation.

I live in a region where 15 - 20 years or more ago there was a lot of activism and discussion about more self-government and area-based management and it was pretty easy to pack a town hall with lots of interested people. There was only a little ideological or partisan aspect to things but the discussion could definitely get heated. Occasionally it even got uncivil given the stakes were actually quite large and the fact people's lives and livelihoods were being turned inside out. Nowadays meetings about anything it seems are few, far between and so scantily attended that even in cases of an official meeting quorums are often not achieved. It's not that I don't think there's lot that still needs discussing, I just don't think it matters anymore because the decisions about what seems to matter the most to people are just so far out of their hands.

I became more interested via the internet in the larger issues outside our region that were affecting things here and in much the same manner everywhere. The internet is definitely a lot more uncivil and I suspect maybe another reason local meetings are kind of passe is that people are afraid at how uncivil things might get if we all started going back to face to face discussions in the real world. When I do engage in or overhear a discussion about things we go on about here I detect a lot of the same arguments being used and originality either just confuses or pisses people off.

I don't see a whole lot to feel hopeful about regarding civil discourse in any forum moving forward myself when opinions matter more than facts and motives and character are more of an issue than the issue.

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I've noticed that the threads become much more sensible and more interesting when a few people's... posts are thus hidden.

Yes, Jacee needs her safe space.

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Yes, Jacee needs her safe space.

No, it's Team B vs Team A. And Team A needs a safe space. Or maybe Team B needs a space to relax.

-1pi=whatever, life is not dichotomic; it's not even continuous.

IMV, God created the natural numbers: everything else is the creation of human thought.

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"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)."

That's politics in a nutshell right there. Hey if they aren't posting on boards they are probably in office somewhere.

Don't believe it? Just check out Elbowgate and the recent Vickers interception episode.

Edited by G Huxley

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Judging by your "list" it seems to me you may be doing a little trolling yourself.

There are hundreds of posters registered here. I named only a few with whom I have interacted in a civil manner. That is the what I have encountered. There are probably a few more with whom I have not communicated because we have different interests and I have not participated in their threads.

Back to my point - is using your free time to insult, demean, bait, anger or cause discomfort, pain and unhappiness in others considered normal behaviour?

I think not.

That is why I feel these anonymous opinion boards are becoming a drawing card for those socially inept who require sadistic pleasures through anonymity.

That is the reason for the OP. If you agree or disagree, this gives everyone an opportunity to share.

BTW I too am having difficulty in understanding some of the decisions made by the mods and their criteria for censure - but it is their board and I thank them for volunteering their time to keep it going. I have now accumulated 11 warning points and will share or trade those with anyone requesting some. :D

Edited by Big Guy

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Or another example is how waldo dismisses my non-mainstream views on climate change and calls me a 'concern troll' because he can't defeat my well reasoned arguments and he needs to keep a belief in a false dichotomy of positions (alarmism vs denialism) in order to maintain his belief in his position.

It is against the forum rules to call people a troll (but somehow Waldo calling me a concern troll doesn't count).

thanks for considering me! Given your past sensitive reaction, I've already provided 'text-book' definition of that term. This thread is an opportune time to revisit:

concern trolling - where someone enters a discussion with claims that he/she supports the discussion view, but has reservations... concerns. In actuality, the concern troll is opposed to the/a view of the discussion, and uses this tactic to sow doubt and dissent in the forum/board community of commenters or posters... ultimately working to split a discussion, generate and/or reinforce factions, all intent toward eroding support for a position/cause where described "concerns exist". By the by, this practice is a long-established one used by illegitimate (fake) skeptics... and is particularly rife within GW/AGW/CC related discussions.

.

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