Column | Internet trolls: They’re not worth the time

It’s the start of another school year and that makes it as good a time as any to bring up cyberbullying and internet trolls.

Children “who are cyberbullied are often bullied in person as well,” according to www.stopbullying.gov. These kids can be tormented 24/7 because messages and images could be posted at any time. Parents could be thinking all is well during movie night with their child on the couch checking his or her phone, but the child may be getting cyberbullied while the family laughs at Baby Groot’s antics during “Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2.”

When kids get cyberbullied, they are more likely to use alcohol and drugs, skip school, experience in-person bullying, be unwilling to attend school, get poor grades, have low self-esteem, and have more health problems.

The most productive way to ease the cyberbullying problem is understanding what makes a kid cyberbully another. Unfortunately, the reasons are varied and numbered so “one size doesn’t fit all,” according to the website.

Kids who cyberbully can do so out of anger, revenge or frustration. They’ll even do it for fun if they are bored and have too much time on their hands. They do it to get reactions from the victim, or they many enjoy tormenting others, or have learned to massage their egos by putting others down.

I haven’t read a study connecting the two, but I’m wondering how many kids who have participated in cyberbullying grow up to become internet trolls as adults.

Trolls like to poke others on the internet for the sole purpose of upsetting people. Trolls will lie, exaggerate and offend to the get a response, according to Jennifer Golbeck Ph.D. in her article “Internet Trolls Are Narcissists, Pyschopaths, and Sadists.”

Golbeck sites a study that “linked trolling with the ‘Dark Tetrad’ of personality traits: narcissism, Machiavellianism, psychopathy, and sadism.” Those scored highest toward Dark Tetrad listed trolling as their favorite internet activity. The sadism personality trait should raise a red flag for those who enjoy tormenting people on the internet.

The study said, “… the associations between sadism and GAIT (Global Assessment of Internet Trolling) scores were so strong that it might be said that trolls are prototypical everyday sadists.”

Trolls, and cyberbullies, want people to feel bad about themselves through public shaming. Trolls give off the appearance of being self-confident and filled with self-belief in themselves, but in reality they think very little of themselves and look to tormenting others to lift themselves up.

They are always trolling and looking to pounce. Let them.

When a troll is encountered just remember they are difficult people. Trolls want to make others suffer for their own pleasure. The best thing to do when encountering trolls, and cyberbullies, is to not play along and ignore them.

Trolls are just not worth it.