What do deception, narcissism, psychopathy, and sadism have in common? Together, they form the “Dark Tetrad” — the killer combo of personality traits that psychologists believe may contribute to a person’s ability to enjoy inflicting mental and emotional pain on others.
And when you’re online, that sense of everyday sadism contributes to Internet trolling.
Internet trolling can take many forms. It can be tame, like a mean comment on a random article online. Or it can be completely sociopathic, such as when Martin Shkreli bumped up the price of a life-saving AIDS drug from $13.50 to $750 simply because he could. Lack of remorse, shame, or guilt is a classic sign of sociopathy, by the way — so we’ve got our eye on you, Shkreli.
In any case, your actions online might still make you an Internet troll, even if you’re not toying with sociopathy or sadism. People harass others online for a variety of reasons: boredom, anger, or a desire to be heard. After all, calling someone out online is still a form of harassment.
Don’t believe us? Consider the definition of harassment: “to annoy persistently; to create an unpleasant or hostile situation for especially by uninvited and unwelcome verbal or physical conduct.” If a coworker bothers you in real life, and you turn to Facebook to dish on how terrible they are, you’re creating a hostile situation for them — even if you’re in the right.
This isn’t to say that you should never speak your mind or freely address things that bother you. But at the same time, consider the effects of your actions and how the other person might feel when they see what you’re saying about them. Anonymity makes trolling infinitely easy because you can forget that you’re talking to a living, breathing human — so, the next time you feel like something needs to be said, ask yourself if you would say it to that person’s face. If not, keep scrolling.
Want to learn more? Check out the flowchart below from Infomania to find out, once and for all, if you’re a troll.