Internet trolls have become such a common part of our everyday experiences that it's hard to say what our lives would look like without either being trashed or seeing people trashed in comment sections all the time. But why do people do this? AsapSCIENCE's "The Science of Internet Trolls" video strives to explain why on Earth someone would spend their days telling people on the Internet that they're fat and ugly — and the reasons are pretty ugly themselves.
Since the statements made by trolls can be so utterly absurd, it may be hard to remember that they're real humans living, walking, and breathing when they're not at their computers. But for all you know, there may have been a troll in front of you in the line at the electronics store last week, and it wasn't necessarily the 18-year-old boy buying video games. Trolls come in all different forms, but psychologists have found they do have a few traits in common.
According to the video, which appears to be based on the scientific paper "Trolls Just Want to Have Fun" in Personality and Individual Differences, here are some scientific facts about trolls that may surprise you and some that probably won't shock anyone who has come into contact with one. Scroll down to watch the full video.
1. Nearly One In 18 People Admit to Being Trolls
These are only the ones who self-identify as trolls, of course, and based on my experience, many trolls think of themselves more like champions for a cause. I do wonder, however, if this sample might include harmless trolls, like those who respond to OKCupid messages in strange ways simply for humor's sake. Still, though, there are probably more trolls out there than we realize.
2. The Internet Troll Population Contains A Disproportionate Number Of Sadists
Sadists, the video explains, don't feel remorse when they inflict pain on others the way most of us do. In fact, they enjoy it. Anyone who has experienced online harassment probably knows this already, though. Trolls often say things that serve not to educate or engage with anyone but just to put them down.
3. Trolls Engage In More Anti-Social Behavior
This one may not surprise anyone either. Trolls, the video explains, "have fun distressing others by being argumentative and disruptive." Yet another reason not to feed the trolls: It only gives them more enjoyment.
4. Internet Trolls Don't Always Troll IRL
In real life, trolls don't receive validation for their trolling due to social constraints like common courtesy. But Internet comment sections can serve as parties where trolls across the globe are invited to unleash their ugliest impulses without being held accountable. Someone who seems nice in person could be far from nice online.
5. Trolls Comment More And Receive More Replies Than Others
As for the first part, at least now you know those 10 angry replies to your tweet don't represent the majority's reaction. And as for the second part, it appears trolls are succeeding in luring their targets in. Unfortunately, the video claims trolls' behavior only becomes worse as they receive more feedback, so once again, you're probably better off letting them cackle from under their bridges.
Watch the full video below: