Computers can try a saint’s patience at times. Their complexity makes them frustrating when problems occur. Even further, how people use computers is often worse than problems computers may cause. The internet is rife with porn, trolling, and other poor behavior. Trolling, for those not into internet lingo, is when a person bullies, talks down, and just generally harasses other people. Trolling is terribly common on forums and multiplayer games. Because people feel they are anonymous, they often act in ways they wouldn’t dare in a face to face encounter. As an online gamer I come up against poor behavior regularly. Sometimes teenagers and children are behind it. Of course, that doesn’t excuse such behavior.
A few months ago, a teenage girl committed suicide because of the trolling and bullying she was receiving both on and off line. Anonymity doesn’t free a person from treating others on the Internet with respect and compassion. Behind all the wires and text is another person who feels, suffers, and hopes just the same as you. Many people just think you need a thick skin to be online. I developed a thick skin against all the immature, thoughtless behavior. However, it isn’t right that people need to do so just to be social online. The responsibility lies with the people causing trouble and not the innocent. They are the ones who need to change their behavior. Unfortunately there are few repercussions online for negative behavior. Although forums and online games can ban people at the least. Perhaps internet service providers could hand out “time outs” if enough websites report a particular user. Of course, this process could very well be used for further trolling.
It really comes down to personal responsibility:
- Pause and re-read text before sending. Once sent, it cannot be unsent.
- Consider the Golden Rule. Do you want people saying such to you?
- Always remember there is another person on the other side of the keyboard.
- Be respectful and calm. Don’t raise to any baits. In internet lingo: don’t feed the trolls.
It is best to just ignore negative behavior when it arises and there are not official channels to report it. Anonymity, unfortunately, is a shield that people cower behind as they act without empathy. When you are online, always treat people with compassion. One day you may well meet the person you were trolling in real life. At the least, the fleeting reaction will leave a positive influence.