Friday, February 6, 2015

When Trolling is a Good Thing

The concept of "trolling" has gotten a bad reputation, but it is widely misunderstood. Trolling, which is "the art of deliberately, cleverly, and secretly pissing people off…trolling does not mean just making rude remarks”, gets associated with bullying because there are some similarities, but the main reason is because some people can't take social pressure. These people deal with it by demonizing those who are putting pressure on them. However, it is important that individuals learn to fix their problems without getting society to help because using other people to fight your battles is defeating the point. How is trolling different from bullying? Trolling is different from bullying because trolling is not supposed to be targeting one person. Trolling is generally targeting some group or team. This does not mean a single person can't be trolled. When trolling becomes bullying is when it is continuous and only at a single person.

There are many good elements of trolling. For one thing, if the world didn’t have trolls, imagine how boring it would be. Could you imagine how boring the internet would be without trolls to spice things up? Trolling entertains us and gives us something to read that is usually against the opinion of the material you are reading. The reason trolling is not bullying is because bullying is usually a continuous thing that specifically targets a person or small group of people. Trolling is not used to target and follow a person around and make them hate themselves. According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, ”Examples of cyberbullying include mean text messages or emails, rumors sent by email or posted on social networking sites, and embarrassing pictures, videos, websites, or fake profiles.” Trolling is not the same as cyberbullying because trolling is not meant to harass people like cyberbullying does.

Before I trolled him. (I took this picture)
After I trolled him. (I took this picture)
What most people don’t realize is that trolling is a term that originated from the video game world. “Trolls” have recently migrated from video games to comments on web pages, and in some cases, face to face. But does that mean they’re evil? No, they just moved their trolling somewhere else. As Mike Rougeau, a professional freelance journalist in Los Angeles, said, “The term itself, "trolling," has become worryingly mainstream, its definition growing nebulous through overuse, and most gamers have forgotten what it even means to get truly, honestly trolled.” Let’s take a survival game for instance. DayZ is a post apocalyptic survival game where there are zombies all over the game and randomly spawned loot. When you die in this game, the disadvantage is that you lose all of the virtual things you have spent time collecting. DayZ is a game where players are trolling half the time. For example, one way of trolling people in DayZ is to handcuff them, strip them of all of their stuff, and walk away with the key. When handcuffed, a person cannot exit out of the game and start over, so they have to wait hours to die of starvation or dehydration and respawn so that they can continue playing. If you can’t take this as a joke, then find a different game. From my experience, I have had this happen to me before. Yes it makes me mad, but a week after that it is something funny to look back at and talk about because it is just a video game. This is what it really means to be trolled. Also, the chances of running into the same people who trolled you in this way is very slim. That is why trolling is different than bullying, they are targeting random people and their goal is not to follow a specific person and target them. Trolling, being applied in the video game world, is the perfect setting because no harm can come from losing something inside of a video game. There is no loss in real life. Trolling is about making people momentarily angry through funny entertaining ways, but it is not about leaving permanent damage like bullying.

People tend to confuse trolling and bullying because there are bullies who call themselves trolls when they are really just being bullies. This gives trolls a bad name because bullies act continuously aggressive toward another person in the name of trolling. There are a couple kinds of bullying. The first is physical bullying. You don’t really see physical bullying happen though, because it is immediately reported as assault. If someone physically hit another person with the intent of hurting them, that would be considered bullying. The second kind of bullying is verbal, and when it happens online, it is called cyberbullying. The most common form of verbal abuse online is being called offensive names. According to Maeve Duggan from Pew Research Center, 4 out of 10 internet users have experienced bullying. Also talked about in the Pew Research article, most people choose to confront their bullies online and, “30% reported it was a little upsetting, 22% found it not at all upsetting.” We hear about bullying all the time, and it sounds like such a terrible thing, but over the half who have been bullied (not trolled) don’t even care. Since trolling is less aggressive than bullying, then that means even more than 50% of people will take trolling as a joke. To me this shows that people using the internet don't really care about online harassment even if it happens to them, because it is not going to affect the average person that much. Trolling is an extremely lesser form of harassment, so if people are generally not affected by harassment, then trolling definitely won’t affect them either. Trolling is different from bullying because it is simply about about having fun and making people laugh as a joke, not about bullying people or attacking them in any way. Even though people confuse bullying and trolling, trolling is actually just for the purpose of entertainment. Los Angeles writer Mike Rougeau put it perfectly: "We'll make you rage. We'll make you cry. You'll throw your hands in the air in frustration. And afterward, if we've trolled you right, you'll laugh."

Bibliography


Conclusion: Updated March 5, 2015

Participating in online games and chat rooms,your experience is based almost solely upon the actions of others, and you should expect to be "trolled" in some form or another, because that's what happens. If you go to a chatroom or video game at a very young age, for example, you're absolutely going to be poked at by at least one person. The whole concept of trolling is a good learning tool for the real-world and for growing up because a lot of the same concepts are things you're going to have to deal with as you grow older and have new responsibilities. If you feel as if you're being attacked personally or emotionally on any kind of technology, the answer to that is to just turn it off. Being in person you can't turn off a person. Some people would hate to be trolled and have been trolled many a times in all sorts of games. They might not find it funny. If this happens too much at a scale of like 3 hours like DayZ it might get out of hand and cause a real problem. This might lead to other personal problems that it may cause distress or something. In my life I find that I don't get worked up about getting teased, trolled, etc. I can understand that other people will get hurt feelings about getting teased but I don't have any personal connection to this.

16 comments:

  1. Roman23458,
    I have to split my comments up because I exceeded the limit of characters allowed. :) Bear with me...

    I must admit that this post has given me more to think about and process than just about any other I have read. Thank you for challenging me to look at this issue in a different way, because I would have never considered trolling a "good thing." Everything I know and read about trolling does not suggest it is the frustrating yet somehow agreeable "joke" that you describe here. So I'm hoping you can answer a few questions for me. I believe your argument that the definition of the term has morphed into something it was never meant to be is quite valid. In fact, the same could be said for "cyberbullying," which gets applied to all manner of things, from hurting someone's feelings, to full-blown harassment and stalking. Understanding what trolling is, from your perspective, could go a long way in mitigating anger, frustration, and hurt. However, I don't think the general public (particularly not those who are frequently targeted by trolls OUTSIDE the gaming community) buys into your definition of trolling as harmless fun. So, my questions:

    Do people who play these games (like DayZ) know going in that they should expect to be trolled "half the time" as you suggest? Is there an option to only play with people who want to play in the same manner you do? I'm wondering if players who aren't bothered by it could label themselves as "open for trolling," where others might actually be left alone if they truly just want to play the game and have an un-trolled experience. How do you KNOW that what seems like harmless fun to you isn't really hurting someone else? You might be the first to troll them, but it could be their umpteenth experience of the week, and the building frustration could lead to more drastic consequences for them. Do you not have a responsibility to consider the consequences of your actions, regardless of your intent? "If you can't take a joke, then find another game" seems like a pretty harsh judgement, placing the blame for the hurt feelings on the victim rather than the perpetrator. Is that truly the only option? To leave the game? Or are there communities where people follow established rules, or codes of conduct, so they can enjoy their gaming experience?

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  2. Finally, I would really like to hear your thoughts on some other examples of "trolling" that have surfaced recently. Lindy West just shared this story last week, and it's quite powerful. She is trolled constantly (graphic language warning), but in this particular instance she shares what happened when she actually confronted him.

    Other articles I have read suggest that trolls have some pretty deep-seated psychological and behavioral issues. A recent scientific study actually says internet trolls are "narcissistic, Machiavellian, psychopathic, and sadistic."

    This evidence is so contrary to your contention that "trolling is not meant to harass people" that I'm actually coming around more to agree with you that the definition of the word is quite a huge problem. What could you call the behavior you describe and experience in the gaming world instead of trolling? Outside of that bubble (and perhaps even inside it) trolling has earned a very nasty reputation, so if you really want to get back to just "having fun" while playing games, in a way that messes with your opponents but isn't meant to harass them, might you call that behavior something else? I think it might be too late to reclaim "trolling" for your own.

    By the way, thanks also for posting that research from Pew. In most media accounts I read after its release, hardly any mention was made of the 50+% who weren't bothered all that much by their online bullies. While that certainly doesn't diminish the impact online harassment has on its victims, it's nice to know that for the majority of people, they are able to move on.

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    1. Hello ms. Gerla, thanks for adding to my blog. My essay is mostly based on what I personally do, so this is me emphasizing what I would do. When you say, is the only option to play another game. Yes but no, I have found other ways, like to go into the files of the game and delete certain files or change them so I can reset past events in any game. But for the average user yes that is the only way around it, or not to buy the game. If you buy a game and you don't like it that is a mistake on your part. You should have looked at the comments on the game before you purchased it or researched watch videos etc.
      On the topic of how other people take it, if you can't take it then don't play. It is the responsibility of being able to purchase the game. The game is literally as I said in my blog 50% of the games updated where they add new things, feels like the developers are trolling you. Seriously the games core mechanics seem like a 10 year old made them. And In every update they add weird things like the ability to skin somebody and eat them (and get mad cows disease from it). Where did they get that idea from besides the idea that people are going to want to eat each other in game now. This gives players a new way to trolling people. The day the game came out most of the people knew they were buying a game that was going to involve stuff like this. I have been trolled by spending 30 dollars and it was totally worth it.

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  3. Hey Roman23458, you have given me a lot to think about for trolling. I, personally, am really into gaming. I have attended conventions and I play many hours of video games a week. I have never, however, experienced trolling that wasn't simply harmless. I understand and agree with you that trolling is in no way as intense as cyber bullying but I still think that it's still a form of harassment. Quite often this trolling is what makes me hesitant to be a part of the gaming community. How do you think that mainstreaming of trolling affects how people see the gaming community? Do you believe that people really should just "find a different game?" I am glad that you published this article to help further the discussion on both cyber bullying and trolling. Thanks!

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    1. Hi thanks for adding to my blog. I just love using Dayz as an example because if the game was not based off of trolling then I would not have bought it. So yes trolling definitely affects the community. For me it is actually only positive. Because it gives me something to overcome or just laugh about. And yes again If you buy a game and you don't like it that is a mistake on your part. You should have looked at the comments on the game before you purchased it or researched watch videos etc.

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  4. Hey Roman23458, I enjoyed and thought you did a good job at explaining the struggles in trolling and the major difference between trolling, cyber bullying and bullying. I personally would hate to be trolled and have been trolled many a times in all sorts of games and I agree with you that after you have been trolled you find it a little bit funny, however, I think if it happens to much at a scale for 3 hours like DayZ is it might get out of hands and cause real problems. I was wondering if you thought about the personal problems that it may cause distress or something? I was also wondering if their is a way to maybe cut down on extreme trolling or as you said: cyber bullying? I thought you might be interested in this link:


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    1. Hi thanks for adding to my blog. I personally don't have any personal problems, but yes I can see how some people would not understand. The best point of a videogame is that you can die and you don't actually die. Now if you consider this think about what you would do if you were invincible in real life. What would you do? Now everybody around you can just respawn, what can you do and what fun can you have? The answer is literally anything because what do you have to lose.

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  5. Hello Roman23458, I really liked your view on trolling. Before reading this article, I wasn't exactly sure what it meant in the world of video games. Some psychologists say that video games can be more beneficial to one's self esteem when players by working on problem solving and dealing with setbacks like 'trolling' so they can face the real-world easier. Click here for the source. I agree with your side of the argument, that people who troll but do not harass are not bad. I've seen a lot of gaming videos on YouTube and sometimes the player will start trolling other users. It's funny but we also need to look at the other person too. I wonder if on certain streams, users should indicate that this is a trolling session of the game? A fair warning might resolve some of the controversy when it comes to crossing the line of bullying. Great Post!

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    1. Hi thanks for adding to my blog. This is great because you are a person who has no experience with the work "troll". "the art of deliberately, cleverly, and secretly pissing people off…trolling does not mean just making rude remarks”. Trolling for some people is a art/practice. Yes it can be taken too far but anything can be taken too far.

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  6. Hi Roman23458 I enjoyed reading your blog and I think that you did a good job of showing how trolling works. I like how you showed how the definition of trolling has changed from what it used to be. I enjoyed reading your personal experiences with trolling in the game DayZ. I have personally been trolled and i can see who some get annoyed and think that it could be bullying. Do you think that trolling can be taken to far like in GTA online I have been targeted by a certain online gamer if I am in the area? When does trolling cross the line and become Bullying? Thanks for the blog- TweedlDee

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    1. Hi thanks for adding to my blog. Yes it can be taken too far but anything can be taken too far. The line s when they follow you around to the point where you are starting to say to yourself, I hate you "the person trolling you". Then this is bullying/harassment.

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  7. Hi, Roman23456! I really like your post because it provides such a different point of view about trolling. I've never thought that trolling would be a good thing, however, your ideas changed my ways of looking at trolling. It's true that trolling made the Internet more interesting and complex, and gave us more things to critique about. It's a new thing for me that the word "trolling" actually came from a game, thanks for sharing that. You have some good sources such as the one from U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. But what do you think of the definition of the word troll: "to post inflammatory or inappropriate messages or comments online for the purpose of upsetting other users and provoking a response" ? Thanks for sharing this post, it makes me think a lot.

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    1. Hi thanks for adding to my blog. The person who wrote "to post inflammatory or inappropriate messages or comments online for the purpose of upsetting other users and provoking a response" is being bullied/harassed and needs to go on youtube for 5 minutes. Trolling is usually a 1 or 2 time thing(unlikely 2) if you are receiving this from a lot of people then that is probably a hint that you should look into the common idea that you are being trolled on and change that.

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  8. Hi,
    Thanks for writing this article because as someone who enjoys essentially the same stuff you do, hearing this kind of thing analyzed in such detail is pretty interesting.
    I often agree that in a way, participating in online games and chatrooms etc etc. that yout experience is based almost solely upon the actions of others should have one expect to be "trolled" in some form or another, because that's what happens. If you go to a chatroom or video game at a very young age, for example, you're absolutely going to be poked at by at least one person. I also agree that the whole concept of trolling is a good learning tool for the real-world and for growing up because a lot of the same concepts are things you're going to have to deal with as you grow older and have new responsibilities. And, in my opinion, if you feel as if you're being attacked personally or emotionally on any kind of technology, the real answer to that is to just turn it off. Unlike being in person, where you can't "turn a person off", you can with technology and once that's been done, they aren't a problem to you. If that however carries over to reality, then there's an issue. What do you think?

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    1. Hi thanks for adding to my blog. You are agreeing with what I am saying, but I never talked about when it carries into your real life. If this is happening then, I am assuming that you would know the people not just over the internet. Then it really depends of what specifically you are being trolled on. Mathematically bullying is trolling but trolling is not bullying. If something goes from the internet to real life then it must have some more hurtful intent, unless the trolls are just talking in person amongst themselves. If they spread that to other people then that would be spreading rumors, which is bullying and that would be crossing the line if you did that.

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  9. Hi Roman 23456, this is an interesting and ingenious idea to talk about trolls. As a gamer I agree with your idea. Yes, trolls make people get mad and sad. I have experienced trolls before too, and I was angry, but as time goes on you just forget. I think you used a good source from Pew Research where it talks about the difference between trolls and bullies. Trolls and bullies are different, trolls do not hurt you in a game or gang up on you in a game, but bullies will hurt you in games by ganging up. It is a good idea to introduce people to the difference between trolls and bullies. How different is it to respond to trolls and bullies in gaming society?

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