The Internet Troll and the Origins of Conflict

Skogtroll (Forest Troll), by Theodor Kittelsen, 1906.

Internet forums are the perfect place to understand the petty origins of conflict.  The Troll must be studiously ignored.

Forums are full of small people with small goals and short tempers.  People with minor personality disorders, whose chief joy in life is to pick a fight.  People with inflated egos and superiority complexes.

Which of our beloved “qualia” is responsible for internet pettiness? Boredom maybe?  Anger, possibly? Or are there lesser qualia perhaps, such as “testiness”, or “pettiness” which, if left unattended, can grow into one of the big nasties like “anger“?

They key response to anger and pettiness on the internet is the same as any other forum in life: avoidance, refusal to engage, leaving well alone.

Trolls. Look at them, troll mother said. Look at my sons! You won't find more beautiful trolls on this side of the moon. (1915) by John Bauer
Trolls. Look at them, troll mother said. Look at my sons! You won’t find more beautiful trolls on this side of the moon. (1915) by John Bauer

In real life sometimes it is not so simple. In real life someone will always be trying to compete with you, steal from you, do you down, best you and to turn the other cheek, regrettably, may not always be possible.  Sometimes such people need to be slapped down so that they will back off and leave you alone. But of course “slapping down” at a national level leads to brinkmanship and eventually armed conflict. The meek may not inherit the earth but perhaps turning the other cheek where at all possible is better than armed confrontation.

On internet forums absolutely no harm whatsoever can come from turning the other cheek and avoiding conflict.  You have nothing to lose and everything to gain. You may feel annoyed, irritated, insulted (more lovely human “qualia”) but it is guaranteed you will feel worse if the conflict escalates and you trade insults with a troll.  That is what drives trolls – they love a fight.

Internet trolls may be violent people in real life but more often than not they are probably just intellectually pretentious point scorers, petty individuals with irritable personalities and nothing better to do.

It is undoubtedly best for you and for them to ignore such people.  There is nothing, nothing whatsoever noble about conflict.

The Princess and the Trolls –The Changeling, by John Bauer, 1913.
The Princess and the Trolls –The Changeling, by John Bauer, 1913.

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