Before even reading the articles this week I instantly thought of Gyges. In Plato’s Republic, a magical ring is given to the character Gyges. The ring has the power to turn the wearer invisible. The ring itself is just a symbol, a test really, to see if one would act morally if they know their actions had no consequences. The Internet has placed Gyges’ ring on each of its users’ fingers, and the result:
Essentially, trolls raison d'être is to disagree with others for the sake of disagreeing. They are the cause of cyclical flame-wars that only end when one person gets bored. They are some of the most stubborn, and confidently wrong people imaginable. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if they knew they were wrong most of the time. Dealing with trolls on the Internet is not unlike dealing with children.
Being an avid gamer, I remember recent troll wars on every gaming related forum about what's better: PS3 or XBOX360. People would argue and argue, compare screens shots and technological specs. They'd spend so much effort and hard work to prove their point to people whose minds couldn't be changed, while it really just boils down to personal preference. Trolls would battle with crude remarks and cruder language just to make an illogical argument.
What is it about the Internet that makes it a breeding ground for this type of personality? This picture sums it up perfectly:
I went troll hunting, and pulled some comments from the Youtube video of Christina Aguilera's Super Bowl blunder. Even when the trolls have are given an easy target, they still attack each other, as shown in the first comment:
"Okay, to all of the complete asshats going, "well liek id luv 2 see you git up der and sing!!!1111one!" SHE IS SUPPOSED TO BE A PROFESSIONAL SINGER. PROFESSIONAL. She's not some godamn random bitch they plucked from the stands. She had ONE song to sing, and she fucked up BIG TIME. There is NO excuse for that, regardless of divorce or other circumstances. Being a professional involves being able to put shit like that aside to do your job. Grow up and stop acting like politically correct assholes." - lvl 4 troll
"Yeah, like ONE word......more like seven LINES. She SUCKS and what a great place to mess up the NATIONAL ANTHEM-the most watched event of the year! She's dumber than a box of rocks, and she disrespected our country by messing it up. She looks like a drag queen, too. Why can't she just sing it NORMALY? The way it's SUPPOSED to be. Not all this whoa-oa-ooooo-oh junk. She's just a loser. And that's a PROVEN fact (see video above)" - lvl 3 troll
Trolls simply don't care. They know, at least they think, anything they type cannot actually be connected with them and cannot affect them. This perceived anonymity and freedom brings up a curious issue: Is a person’s ‘internet personality’ more indicative of who they are than how they act in real life? Maybe the anonymity helps people to be themselves; because they aren’t censored and the normal expectations of real life aren’t there to filter them. Could our Gyges rings make us invisible, but simultaneous serve to reveal our true nature?