Great piece on TechCrunch today. It talks about Trolling and the human psychology at play behind it. They break commenters to the TechCrunch site in to three groups:
1. Legitimate commenters, who have something thoughtful to say and/ or add to the conversation (for and against)
2. Link spammers who comment on the off chance they might get some traffic as a consequence of their comment
3. Trolls, who make it their business to criticize anything written and the people who wrote it.
Here’s a blockquote from the New Scientist:
Social psychologists have known for decades that, if we reduce our sense of our own identity – a process called deindividuation – we are less likely to stick to social norms…the same thing happens with online communication such as email. Psychologically, we are “distant” from the person we’re talking to and less focused on our own identity. As a result we’re more prone to aggressive behavior, he says.
Another factor influencing online communication, according to Epley, is simply the risk of miscommunication involved with text-based messages, which are inherently more ambiguous. At the same time, he notes, email “has the feel of informality – we just fire something off”, even though we probably ought to treat it with the same care as a written letter. And, as most people probably know, this can cause problems for both the sender and the receiver.
Like TechCrunch, I will leave the final word to the New Scientists’s Michael Marshall.
I’m not sure what we can do to minimize miscommunication and abuse online. But being aware that we’re not as good at communication online as we’d like to think seems like a good start. I know I often have to restrain myself from joining in.