Attacking women online - Too important not to try again

Discussion in 'Debate Room' started by GingerCoffee, Mar 3, 2015.

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  1. T.Trian

    T.Trian Overly Pompous Bastard Staff Supporter Contributor

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    These are just my personal, subjective observations, not the ultimate truth, but I have a couple of theories:

    Why do people troll?

    Cowardice.

    A lot of people are cowards in the sense that they have difficulties standing up for themselves IRL, especially in the face of potential violence. However, when someone threatens us, even if it's not with violence, but e.g. verval bullying or some such, it causes stress to the recipient, and if they don't fight back and release the aggression and adrenaline caused by the confrontation, the impotent anger, frustration, sadness etc. is left inside to fester, sometimes for months or even years.
    Hell, their source of anger and frustration could be something as "simple" as a failure to lose weight, attributing their lack of a love life to being overweight, the insults aimed at other overweight people they project onto themselves etc.
    That's just an example: instead of weight problems, it could be a serious illness, being poor or in too much debt and facing bankruptcy, losing a loved one, being bullied at school, being lonely, being beaten or bullied by a parent or sibling, or a myriad of other smaller or greater causes of various levels and types of (di)stress or any combination thereof.

    Some people don't have effective ways to release those frustrations, that anger. Some do it through sports, video games, playing music, drinking, sex, or whatever, but some either don't have such outlets or theirs just aren't effective.

    So when someone annoys them online, they realize now, in the safety of their own home, often concealed behind anonymity, they can not only fight back without any fear of violence or real consequences, but they can actually let out all the frustrations accumulated over the course of their everyday lives.

    And yes, most of them know it's wrong, and I'm certain that's a part of the thrill. Another part is that often the people they troll fight back, causing a confrontation.
    Now, because of how we're built as a species, our bodies can't tell the difference between real IRL confrontations like e.g. a self-defense situation, and an online confrontation. That means the body reacts the same way. That means that even if the adrenaline is released in somewhat lesser quantities, it's still released. That can cause a pleasurable rush which is addictive, just like endorphin, which comes afterwards when the troll feels they "won," so they start craving to relive that rush and get their kicks, which = the troll wants to get their fix by stirring shit online.
    So these assholes troll: they don't dare to seek a bar fight or join an MMA gym to let off that steam. Why? Because they are fucking cowards.

    Have you ever met a troll, someone who trolled you online, IRL? I have, and these guys were the most pathetic little pieces of shit you'll ever see, and all but shat themselves when I went to *gasp* talk to them. Seriously, I've never spoken to anyone who tried so hard to avoid looking at me, and who could barely mumble a few words I had a hard time catching. Needless to say, after that pathetic encounter, they were their old selves again as soon as they got back to the safety of their own homes and the online environment. Hardly a surprise.


    But why do people send rape threats?

    Trolling.

    Very few people are actually serious, i.e. truly intend to go and rape their target IRL. The vast majority are just trolls, and what trolls do, their MO, is to fish for reactions. The greater the reaction, the more satisfaction the troll experiences.

    Furthermore, when the troll does what they do with any kind of regularity, they will notice patterns, things that cause greater reactions and hence greater satisfaction for the troll.
    The thing is, usually the greatest reactions are derived from the most offensive material. Since rape is considered one of the most horrible, vile crimes in our society, especially when considering things that can be done to women, it's an obvious subject for trolls to abuse.

    That's likely also why these trolls targeted the father: telling a man his daughter will be raped is possibly one of the worst if not the worst thing you can tell him. It's also rarer than threatening a woman with rape, i.e. more original, which translates to a likelihood that the reaction will be greater when targeting the father through his daughter, which, in turn, results in a greater "reward" to the troll.
    Also, when the act of trolling is more original, there's a greater chance that the troll gets noticed and hence gets a reaction out of their target, which is their goal from the get-go.

    If the troll's target is someone the troll is opposed to because of differing political, religious etc. beliefs, it's a bonus, but definitely not any kind of necessity. I do think trolls exist who only troll to e.g. shut someone up or drive them away from the Internet or something like that, but in my experience, these kinds of "ideology-driven trolls" are a minority and most are in it just for shits and giggles, or the ideology plays second fiddle to the trolling.

    So, it's not surprising that when targeting women, trolls usually go for rape threats/jokes, when targeting parents, the trolls usually target their children, and when it's single men... well, trolls have a harder time with them because there's no crime you can commit upon a man that would result in as much public outrage as raping a woman or molesting a child.

    Hence men usually get more death threats, maybe some threats against his family, career, or privacy (e.g. threatening to dox him), but generally trolls just don't have equally effective ammo against men because, well, we're taught ever since childhood that we can take a (proverbial) hit, that crying about it solves nothing, that complaining about it is "unmanly" and hence pathetic, and that we just have to "take it like a man."

    The only exception when a troll can have effective ammo against a single man is if he has some weak spot the troll can exploit. E.g. if he's very religious, the troll would go after his religion. If he's very political, e.g. heavily involved with the extreme right-wing, the troll would go after his political views etc.
    Except when going after his political views, the troll would probably try to trick him into having a serious discussion where the guy is tricked into doing tons of research to provide evidence to support his claims and wasting a shit ton of time for nothing etc. I.e. it's more about baiting the guy and stringing him along only to finish with the revelation that it was all for nothing instead of one random insult. The same thing when a troll goes on a dating site, pretends to be a woman, and seduces some guy only to give him the phone number of some other guy.

    I've been on Internet forums for 16 years now and I've seen a lot of trolls, and the above is the basic MO I've observed when considering the common tactics and behavior of trolls. When I was in my early teens, I was a "comedy troll" for a little while (mainly posting silly, non-offensive pictures in weird contexts for comedic effect). Sure, I grew out of it in less than a year, but it did give me a bit of perspective on what goes on in a troll's mind, and until I grew bored with it, I got a kick out of it. Yeah, I was even dumber as a kid...

    Anyway, even way back when I trolled that one music forum (it was the only place I trolled), I never made rape jokes or rape threats because rape, to me, has always been a crime that makes me see red (maybe partly because I've known several rape survivors, some of them throughout my life). The society where I grew up was very anti-rape, and when a rape took place or a man assaulted a woman, it was both reported to the police and the perpetrator(s) were sought out and hospitalized with baseball bats by a group of men/youths.
    Often the rapists and woman beaters had to move or alienate themselves from the society because showing their faces in local pubs often resulted in beatings, so with that kind of mindset ingrained into me at a young age, I don't understand how these assholes can sleep at night after sending rape threats, but I do get why they choose rape as their main weapon against women. If we lived in a society where rape was no big deal, I'm sure the trolls wouldn't use rape to provoke people.

    So yeah, these people should be outed, their names and faces publicized, and they should be punished properly. The reason why I'm sceptical, though, is the anonymous nature of the Internet.

    I mean, I've received death threats and one of them was for real (two guys armed with knives waited for me at a certain place where they expected me to be at a certain time, and they told about it to a mutual friend who then sold them out and gave me the heads up), but there was nothing anyone could do. I reported that one serious death threat to the police, but they couldn't do anything about it because the threat as well as the admission of guilt to the mutual friend were verbal only, and the mutual friend didn't want to get anymore involved. So, I didn't go to that place and the other threats, which I took as regular trolling, I just ignored because... what could I do what the police couldn't?
    And then there's the whole Man thing: I'm not supposed to be hurt by words or intimidated by online threats, and whatever insults and injustices I encounter, I just have to shrug off, and I do. No troll will ever ruin my day. But that's my situation, I'd imagine it's vastly different from that of e.g. a celebrity or some public figure, or even just another individual with a different background, so I don't claim all can just ignore the different levels of online harassment, especially since I don't know what it's like to be the target of thousands of trolls, but I don't know if there's any other realistic way to deal with trolls because of the anonymity of the Internet.

    But those are just my subjective observations and food for thought, not the undeniable truth. Sorry about the novel-length post.
     
  2. Bryan Romer

    Bryan Romer Contributor Contributor

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    There is a constant barrage of anti-rape messages on the media and Net these days, so it is hardly surprising that trolls would pick on rape references or threats as their choice of verbal weapon.

    The very definition of a Troll is someone who is trying to find the combination of words that would hurt and anger their recipient the most.

    Agonising over the use of rape as a tactic is actually beside the point. Would it be "better" if the Trolls said "I hope you/your daughter/son/wife gets acid thrown in your/their face" ?
     
  3. Mike Hill

    Mike Hill Natural born citizen of republic of Finland.

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    Technical note that some of you might not know.
    If you use Tor browser wisely you are not accountable for what you write. Even FBI can't catch you.
    Of course that doesn't remove the moral responsibility but if you want to bully internet is your dream place.
     
  4. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    This is an interesting perspective, and reminded me that, in certain circles, the rape threats and really violent threats aren't evidence of extreme anger, or maybe even of sexism, they're just how that group has socialized itself to communicate. (of course, the reasons they've been socialized that way may relate to sexism, or at least to an environment that was traditionally make dominated). It's just their standard in-game trash talk. I might play a game and jokingly tell a friend I'm going to kick his ass; in some online gaming communities, the joke will be "I'm going to rape your ass". And then, to show how creative they are, they add a few descriptors.

    But when creatures who spend most of their time in this environment venture out into the more gentle environs of the larger internet, their innocent trash talk is perceived differently. Someone responds to them with outrage/anger, the gamer-creature gets defensive b/c what's the big problem, that's just how people talk, and the defensiveness leads to further offensiveness. Rather than stopping and thinking about the language they've become accustomed to and why it might be a problem, they double-down and fight back. And some of them, the ones who are troubled in some other way, probably, escalate to genuine trolling - they're powerless in their real lives, but on-line nobody knows that they're losers, not as long as they keep insisting on dominance and refuse to admit any vulnerability.

    It's ugly, but I think I can see how it happens.
     
  5. Lemex

    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    I like to think they are, trolls and bullies. Either that or they lack all integrity and common decency, and so for them it's not a problem.
     
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  6. Link the Writer

    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    And it helps that the people they're bullying appear as nothing more than a box with words in them, likely live half a world away and the worst punishment they'd get is a banning from the forum.

    I'm not going to say that my own personal time with online trolls are anywhere near what others have had, but suffice to say, a history forum I used to love became nothing but bad memories. Shame, because I really liked to talk about history there. Trolls, of course, come in all different shapes and sizes. Mine was a 53 year old guy from the UK who had a vendetta against, well, Americans and made sure all the American posters knew how much he hated them and considered anything they said worth jack shit. When he was called out on it, he'd play the victim and act like we were the ones trying to beat him down. He never threatened me with violence or anything, but his words still hurt almost as much as it would've if he had been standing in front of me. (Of course, I would have likely started hitting him with a bat while singing our national anthem :p) But I think that was the point. Shielded by anonymity, and the fact that his targets lived on the other side of the world from him, he could do whatever he wanted. I imagine he wouldn't have been dripping with venom as he was if he were smack dab in the middle of the US.

    Even now, thinking about him makes my blood boil. The old 'urge to fight back' comes cropping up even though I'm in no physical danger whatsoever, and I've never seen this guy in years. I think, perhaps, that's how the trolls/bullies win. They want to get into the victim's head, to ruin their day, to make their life impossible to live. To feel ashamed and humiliated. With women, it must be tenfold because it's like society managed to find all the words that could truly hurt a woman and trolls use it with their delightful glee. Especially since they are protected by the anonymity of a computer screen.
     
  7. GingerCoffee

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    While this might sometimes be true, I don't think you can write off most of this kind of trolling as just 'trash talk'. It seems there's more to it than that, some other psycho-social thing underlies it than just customary language.
     
  8. Link the Writer

    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    I think sometimes it's because the person doing the insulting really wants to watch his/her victims squirm and crumble. It's not always 'Whoops, I didn't mean it that way, yo! C'mon, it's how I talk with my friends. I'm just playing around.'
     
  9. Garball

    Garball Banned Contributor

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    Maybe the definition of bully has changed with the advent of social media. When I was younger, bullies weren't cowards; they were actually pretty tough guys who would throw their weight around wherever they wanted, not the stereotype portrayed on ABC afterschool specials only picking on the wormy kids.

    Perhaps these cyber bullies (trolls) are using the anonymity provided by the internet and funny avatars to finally have their chance to not be the ones getting picked on. The internet is the leveling field of the old school playground. Is it possible that the desire to be a dominant alpha male is an inherent trait and not having to prove your machismo through physical prowess has opened the flood gates for ever guy to "rule?"

    It has been said that the guys guilty of this nasty behavior do not look like the type of guy who you would expect this from. What do you expect these guys to look like? Tough, ugly bullies? Those guys don't have anything left to prove, less the ones who made it to the local penitentiary.
     
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  10. Lemex

    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    Let me apologize now for him on behalf of the United Kingdom. He sounds like a tosser.

    Basically, I don't think we can get anywhere as a society until we start seeing men and women as equals. Trolling is often portrayed as a thing males do, and I don't know of any study that has proven that. But let's face it, anyone can be a bully. We've just seen a good example of this. Ah well.

    Yeah, you are right. This is all true.
     
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2015
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  11. GingerCoffee

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Lest anyone think this is only a male-female phenomena, there were plenty of females that cyberbullied the unconscious high school rape victims that ended up killing themselves. So there are different forms of cyberbullying besides the one in the OP.

    Female Cyberbullying: Causes and Prevention Strategies

    I never meant to imply women didn't do this. It's just that the male-female trolling that is saturated with incessant rape threats appears to be a specific sub-set of offenders.

    And in the case of the girl cyberbullies, they knew the victim or at least had a personal connection. There were women who attacked Kaci Hickox, the nurse in Maine so I suppose motive against the victim matters.
     
  12. Garball

    Garball Banned Contributor

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    Going back to the schoolyard bullies, even then it was uncommon to see somebody (at least in my neck of the woods) get beat to a bloody pulp. The physical bullies had lines they wouldn't cross. In fact, it was not uncommon to see the bullies at parties or be on the football team; there was no full excommunication from society.

    However, we did have a brother bully duo that took it too far. One night, one of the brothers got into a scrap and bit a guy's nose off; later his brother would go to jail for curbing somebody. They took it too far and were completely ostracized.

    There is some tolerance for bullying; it seems an inate part of society. The question is why do some people cross that line of no return. Biting a nose off, wishing somebody's daughter to get double fisted with a baseball bat? That shit isn't accepted in any circle that I know of. Is this, as Ginger alluded to, a glitch in evolution, or a matter of not being exposed to acceptable behavior by parents? Nature? Nurture?
     
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  13. outsider

    outsider Contributor Contributor

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    It probably shouldn't go without being said that extreme pornography and the ease with which anyone can get access to it, may play a role here in desentitising young, cretinous minds into thinking such abhorrent language is somehow acceptable. Even if they are hollow, anonymous threats.
    Yup, the world in 2015 is pretty fucked up.
     
  14. Talisien

    Talisien Member

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    There is another interesting reason behind what appears to be bullying...

    As a long time online role player I have discovered that online communities have a far greater percentage of people with real mental health issues, many of whom actually have a lack empathy or other psychological factors that make the way they communicate with people different in some way. I have found that many, certainly not all, of what at first appeared to be online bullies have actually turned out to be people with a mental health issue.
     
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