Internet Trolls IRL Explain Why They Troll

Sarah Feuerbacher, director at SMU's Center for Family Counseling, provided expertise for a story on Internet trolling.

By Doug Magditch

Internet trolling can be defined a lot of ways. Researchers are just beginning to study it, but it’s basically antagonizing people online to get a response. Positive or negative… any response will work, because what they’re trolling for is attention.
“You literally are blogging or posting something that shifts the topic at hand, which is an article or research that has been done, or a current event. Now, everyone shifts their focus to you. It feels good, it builds up self-esteem,” said Sarah Feuerbacher the director of the SMU Center for Family Counseling. . .

“It’s very much about power and control over a situation or individuals. So, it very much gives an individual the ability, in that brief moment, to feel good about themselves, even though their actions are negative,” said Feuerbacher. . .

Feuerbacher says trolling is much more than a boredom remedy. it can be dangerous.
“It escalates. It’s abusive behavior. It’s bullying behavior. Even though it’s done behind a computer screen, it’s still behavior that’s hurting someone else, or large masses of people, but it’s also hurting that individual. They will change, if they haven’t already. They will change in their public world. They will start to include some of these characteristics and statements and beliefs,” she explained.
Feuerbacher says trolls should seek counseling… and their victims should seek to ignore them.
“Even if you’ve got this altruistic, I’m trying to help them, I’m trying to make them see that their ways are erroneous and hurt people,  again, it is giving them attention and shifting the focus of what the original content was about on to them,” said Feuerbacher.

Read the full story.

# # #