In the age of digitization, we need to understand how online personalities can vary between individuals. With social media sites taking over the lives of most millennials, it’s but natural to see some form of conflict on the blogosphere. Cyber bullying and trolling are things that are synonymous with internet use sometimes. Whether it’s a Twitter war or a harmless joke in the Instagram comments section, we do see a lot of trolling as we scroll through our days. When we’re faced with inflammatory remarks on the Internet, our first desire is to strike back. This is what the people that push your buttons want. We’ve spoken about assertiveness before, but on a digital basis, you may not even need to be assertive. If you think you don’t need to express how you feel to someone cramping your vibe, you’ve mastered the Internet! Since cyberspace is so vast, there’s going to be people who use it to derive humor, or even take revenge. Phenomena like trolling and cyber-bullying are what power this tendency.
 

A Simple Guide to Trolls

 
Most cyber bullies may experience some form of harassment or insecurity that they thrive on. A conflict at school can lead to several behaviors on online gaming servers like the those the Xbox and PlayStations run on. Take Club Penguin for example. A game played by so many teenagers in its heyday, turned into a space that bred trolls. The developers created a system that banned trolls, to deal with the rampant usage of odd humor for a banter. One might think that trolling is something that comes with the freedom of expression. If we’re able to look at it and see it for its humor, we can understand how it’s not meant to be inflammatory at all. Trolling entails the following:
 
  • A desire to be argumentative and smug
 
  • A desire to bait people on the internet into said argumentation
 
  • Trying to annoy another person
 
  • To gain recognition
 
The difference between trolling and cyber bullying is that trolling may not have an intent to harm. It is a form of humor, and internet trolls actually often call it an art. Annoyance is a mild poke that starts the process of triggering an opinion. If we’re able to look past where it’s meant to sting, and take it for its humor, it might just help! If someone trolls you, just look for the humor within! By taking offense, you’re only letting a troll evolve into a bully by gaining power from your annoyance!
 

Cyber Bullying: Roots and Remedies

 
How exactly does a bully differ from a troll? If we understand what the modus operandi of cyber bullying is, it might provide a clearer picture. Cyber bullying entails the following:
 
  • Being hurtful and insensitive
 
  • The desire to feel empowered
 
  • The desire to take revenge
 
  • The desire to intimidate someone
 
If you’re confronted by a cyber bully online, there are a few cues that you might know this person. Harassment and personal remarks may mean conflicts at work and school have spilled into ones internet identity. Probing deeper into this can help find out any personal ties to the occurrence. Once we find the source, one can either block or report these accounts. Not responding and going straight for the block is always the best option. No one should let a cruel joke or rude comment made from behind a keyboard for kicks affect them. People on the giving end must realize that aiming ones jibes at anyone isn’t cool! You can never know the mental status of an individual you’re going the extra mile to offend. If they’re already melting down, your mockery might lead them to flip the switch. Raising awareness about the consequences of what one says is imperative today. If we all refuse to condone rash internet usage, cyberspace will be ‘fairly governed’ so to speak. As long as you don’t submit yourself to the power of the internet, conflicts on a computer screen won’t matter to you much. Keeping hooked to a screen can compromise sleep and cause depressive symptoms with time. Using screen time to learn something than argue with an endless sea of trolls is something that keeps the mind active. Scroll through your Instagram for aesthetics, not to be triggered by others. When you’ve got blinders on and look straight at what you want, the trolls fade into the background.

An undergraduate in Psychology, Shantanu is an aspiring Educational Psychologist who will be pursuing his Master’s in 2018 at the Ohio State University. He is adept with psychometric and statistical research, and has honed his grasp over psychology through a 4 year undergraduate course in Liberal Education at FLAME University, Pune.