Why are some people on internet forums and other posting boards such jerks? You’ve probably had it happen to you, or have witnessed it before. Someone posts a question, or an opinion on some forum, and they get instantly bombarded either by a group or by a single poster whose trying to completely trash their post. And you notice it because the “flame war” goes on and one and fills up the news feed!
The short answer is this person is probably a very troubled child whose parents never loved them. They live at their parent’s home, sitting in front of their computer all day with their big, fat lard eyes absorbed into the computer screen. These morons hate their lives so much that they have dedicated it to starting internet “wars” with others, in the hopes that you will recognize their existence and fight back (thus acknowledging their existence and making them satisfied). Their only aim is to prove to themselves that they can “win” at something, even though they have clearly lost at every dream, aspiration, or life goal they ever had. These are really pathetic losers and you should get over it and move on with your life, for your sake and for theirs! GET OVER IT!
What do you think?
Was that a good analysis? If you are satisfied with the short answer then you are free to leave. For those seeking a more in depth, understanding of this phenomena, we must dive into the issue a little deeper.
Is the short answer accurate? Well, sort of. These people are definitely losers! But it also depends on the nature of the “flame war,” it could be a subject they feel really passionately about such as politics, and their true aim really is to change your mind. However, for the sake of this analysis, let us assume that by “flame war,” we are talking about pointless, meaningless, debates that were clearly started by the “troll” in order to start some kind of controversy.
An example of a “meaningless flame war” would be something along the lines of:
Q: Hey guys! I just got this my new Prius and it won’t start, any ideas? I tried charging it and everything, Thnx!
Troll: Only an idiot would drive a Prius! An idiot who doesn’t even know how to start a car, what a moron! Come back when you drive a real car! Like me!
That is a fictional example of a pointless flame war, clearly started by one side. As you can see it serves no help to the original poster, and the Troll has two very clear goals in this response, can you figure it out?
Analyzing an Actual “Flame” Response
This one is great because this is an actual response to one of our articles from this website! Notice how constructive this response is. The Troll elegantly critiques our logo and website name, oh how masterful he must be of a logo designer to have endowed me with his gracious opinion! Am I so honored to receive such criticism?
Let’s look at the two goals of this response.
Goal 1: Piss Off The Reader
This one is obvious, by why would someone want to piss of a complete stranger? It rests in the nature of how online web forums work. When you post something “good” or “nice” on forums, such as “nice article” or “good job”, there is a very high chance that you will illicit a “meaningless” response or no response at all. By meaningless response, I mean the best response you could get is “Thanks! Appreciate it! :)”
These internet trolls were probably at one point, nice people. However they learned very quickly that “nice” comments do not give them the attention that they crave. And there is nothing wrong with not responding to a nice post. It is seen as common courtesy on the internet to merely “LIKE” a kind post, or say “thanks!” which is not a very engaging response worthy of any follow up. Or to simply not to respond, there is nothing wrong with not responding. Someone said something nice, it made your day a little better and you move on. In all cases however, the conversation ENDS.
However, try making a nasty remark like the one above and most certainly it will illicit some sort of response, hopefully a frustrated, defensive, angry response! And this is exactly what the troll wants to feed their appetite for attention.
What if I choose not to defend myself? Somehow I have reason to believe that in the sick twisted mind of these losers, they believe you did see their comment, you reacted to angrily to it that you slammed your laptop shut and walked away crying. Even NOT RESPONDING, could be a sign to the Troll that they have done their job and they might be satisfied even with that! It’s crazy how these things always seem to work out in the favor of the Troll.
Goal 2: To Assert One’s Self
Everybody wants their existence to be made known, deep down inside we all want to be recognized for something we have done, or about us that might be admirable. These Trolls? Well the want what everybody else wants too! Notice in the typical response, it was a total critique of our website, our logo, and our opinion. So where in this critique does this guy “assert” himself.
The critique can be found within the condescending tone of their response. The way they want their opinion to be made known is merely to imply that the Troll’s opinion is superior. This Troll trashed our website’s logo, and in doing so, he is intentionally trying to make it appear as if though he is some great connoisseur of graphic design or a great designer himself.
This is a way of giving credit to himself for pointing out our terrible logo, he wants the world, and myself, to believe his is a genius of some sort. You will notice this trend in all “flame” responses. They usually embody similar traits of subtle self advertising and bombast.
This can be observed many times with “grammar Nazis” who try to point out simple spelling errors in an argument instead of addressing the real issues. They utilize such cheap tactics in order to “show off” that they passed 4th grade spelling class. These people want to make every insignificant fact about their life known and praised.
Why Do This?
I think the short answer really covers this well, but we can not fathom what is in the deepest pits of these Troll’s hearts without knowing them, so it is difficult to render an accurate judgement. Let’s look into his Reddit profile and see if we can find out who this person really is!
A REAL response from this person, let’s analyze it!
So right off the bat, he proclaims himself an “authority” of Dig Dug games. What does this mean? Do you become an authority for being the game’s biggest fan? Or maybe by putting in more hours on the game than anyone else? Or perhaps spending more money at the arcade than anyone else on it! Who knows, but he did not hesitate to brag about himself. Remember Goal #2.
He actually did provide a real, and interesting theory to the question. I was actually quite intrigued with his conclusion. however it is not the subject of this analysis. his answer was indeed real, but it is that slight self proclamation mixed with his elegant answer that makes this a more “douchey” response than a “flame war.”
How To Respond to Trolls
When someone is totally trashing your website and your opinion. When someone trashes your opinion, there is a problem. Not necessarily with your opinion, though you CAN have bad opinions, but usually with the person who went out of their way to make you feel bad about your opinion. Now this is different when a group of friends get into a debate about which anime is better.
BUT when a complete stranger, whom you have never met before in your life, renders harsh judgments and criticisms towards your opinions, there is a problem! When someone you have never met before begins to assert themselves on you, because they want every minuscule, unimportant fact about them praised, there is a problem! We live in socially troubled times thanks to the internet, and we are dealing with troubled people.
How do you respond to these people?
Option A: Troll them back, waste their time (and yours) and have a good laugh!
Option B: Ignore. They might still be satisfied with it, and I know it can be painful to not “stand your ground” but sometimes being the man, and just letting it go can be the right decision!
Option C: Write an article about them on your website with a terrible logo and trash opinion and close the comments so they don’t even have a stage to respond! 😉
My goal here is to help those who have experienced cyber trolls. Honestly Opinion B is probably the best option. Let it go. Maybe they will too, and they can get a job, move out of their parents house and unlikely, but possibly, get married.