How Trolls Are Ruining the Internet


They’re turning the web into a cesspool of aggression and violence. What watching them is doing to the rest of us may be even worse

This story is not a good idea. Not for society and certainly not for me. Because what trolls feed on is attention. And this little bit–these several thousand words–is like leaving bears a pan of baklava.

It would be smarter to be cautious, because the Internet’s personality has changed. Once it was a geek with lofty ideals about the free flow of information. Now the web is a sociopath with Asperger’s. If you need help improving your upload speeds it’s eager to help with technical details, but if you tell it you’re struggling with depression it will try to goad you into killing yourself. Psychologists call this the online disinhibition effect, in which factors like anonymity, invisibility, a lack of authority and not communicating in real time strip away the mores society spent millennia building. And it’s seeping from our smartphones into every aspect of our lives.


I think it has successfully been ruined, or at least on it’s way to becoming a trash heap. I find the negativity to be too much at times and it’s almost constant aggression. I find myself getting sucked into it and it’s not healthy, spiritually or physically. Sad to say that I find this place to be too aggressive and negative at times (the news sections primarily). I am not innocent in any of this of course; I need to step away periodically.


Went and read the article. Didnt take long for it to be an anti-trump, conservatives are trolls, article. Very one side.


A Pew Research Center survey published two years ago found that 70% of 18-to-24-year-olds who use the Internet had experienced harassment, and 26% of women that age said they’d been stalked online.



Thank you for posting this. The internet gives anonymous people a free - no consequences - pass to be vicious and cruel. Having a bad day? Attack someone on the internet since you don’t have a dog to kick. Get those bad feelings and frustrations out there by making someone else feel bad. Get high and mighty on someone who you believe is wrong.

Sadly, without being aware in some cases, the internet is telling people it’s OK to be cruel. Bad role models encourage others to follow their bad example.



You’ve been trolled by the article “Now the web is a sociopath with Asperger’s” most aspies aren’t sociopaths.


I agree thus my taking a break from certain threads that create nothing more than angst and really are nothing more than circular arguments,A waste of time,at least for me.:shrug:


I disagree with the premise that the internet has been “ruined” by trolls.
Man’s fallen nature has been here for a long time, and therefore some men have always made evil out of things that are morally neutral. That doesn’t make the medium of communication (internet) itself ruined; it only means that we need to guard ourselves from the content that is evil.

Just like books. A great invention, quickly subverted by people who meant to do harm to it. Books weren’t ruined. We just have to be careful not to read bad ones.

The main reason why people are harmed through the internet is because they are badly trained on how to use it. Social networking is a major source of cyber bullying.

Places like 4chan and CNN comment boards are the “cesspool of aggression and violence”. I wouldn’t say that the entire internet has become such a cesspool. If you go looking for those places, or if you carelessly click on every link that comes your way, you’ll certainly land there, but otherwise, you can use the internet very well.

The internet is a powerful thing that can be used for good or ill. Every one of us is capable of using it without being harmed, but unfortunately, few of us are trained to do so.


It would be smarter to be cautious, because the Internet’s personality has changed. Once it was a geek with lofty ideals about the free flow of information.

Mr Stein apparently never spent any time on Usenet. Before web pages existed there was email, gopher, usenet, irc, and more. I remember when I first found out about the newsgroups (usenet), and was amazed at the content available. Files were shared (including pirated software and pornography) and lots of discussion forums (

And it was never unusual for what he calls harassment to flare up. And there were epic flamewars (as they were called then). Go into any IRC channel, and it wasn’t unusual to see huge battles with the most vile epithets thrown around.

No, the personality of the internet hasn’t changed. It’s only become larger (more people), easier to find, easier to read, and much, much more accessible.

Edit: The personality of the internet hasn’t changed. It’s the rise of overly sensitive people. Back in the day if you didn’t like what was there, you ignored it. If somebody said something vile, you ignored it. The difference is now that people think that not liking what is available is grounds to suppress it, either explicitly (like banning people) or implicitly (by denouncing it).


And those places (such as 4chan) are filled with a bunch of kids that haven’t reached full maturity yet. And many of the adults on there behave with the maturity of a 15 year old. It’s disturbing when I come in contact with these people. I really don’t think it’s that hard to behave like an adult and have respect for all people. I sometimes wonder if I was just blessed in that way; because I’ve never really struggled with maturity. And I say this because I was told often as a kid that I was mature for my age. Now if somebody genuinely has a disorder that causes them to be stuck with the mental capacity of a child/adolescent, that’s different, because they cannot change their behavior. And that is not what I’m talking about.

Edit: I also agree with the statement made that many people also become offended too easily. I think in some ways that can also relate to immaturity.


The trolls are here too. They are easy to pinpoint and doesn’t take long to do so. CAF isn’t my place, but if it was, they’d be gone as fast as they were spotted. They come here claiming to be Catholic. Maybe they are, but I often wonder. Or they come here claiming to be whatever, but they like to try (notice I say “try”) to sow seeds of doubt among the faithful on CAF and create controversy where no controversy previously existed. In short, they like to pit people against one another. A very old communist tactic.


My thoughts exactly.I am also dubious about the actual intentions of a lot of posters’ here on the Forum.The show up,oftentimes drop one line zingers that are obviously intended to incite arguing,They then sit back and enjoy.Others’ show up with the obvious agenda of creating dissention re matters of our faith.I for one am over it,not gonna play anymore.


True. And a lot of provocation by non-Catholics. Not all of the non-Catholics here (not even most), but definitely some.


The rise of overly sensitive people (see post # 9)? I was there when the internet started up. Flame wars still occur. People are still told to get “a thicker skin” and ignore uncivil oafs. It’s like “We’re OK but You’re Not.”

I’m not getting used to the abuse. I’ve dumped a lot of forums because they had one or more of the following:

A) Public? No, a private club. And if you challenged what they believed to be true, you were a threat. At best, you were scorned, at worst, you were banned.

B) People who do not know what they are talking about. As a new “outsider,” you were ignored.

C) Forums where known people who deserved respect were raked over the coals. In some cases, they tried to defend their vile words by saying that they were trying to “help” someone become “better.” Or accuse that person of “not listening to his fans” when the fact was, it meant “Not doing what they told him to do.”

D) Profanity. Oh, that always helps :rolleyes:

E) As a moderator on another forum, I slowly confirmed that people with various previously existing mood disorders or mental disorders now had an outlet and they ranged from annoying to vile. Some appeared to like the fact that they could get away with a lot of their behavior. I, and others mod.s, warned and then banned some of them.

F) People who believe it’s OK to be a jerk, on and off the internet. To insist on their way as a “You don’t like it? Stop posting or leave.” There is one forum which I read but never post on.



Same here, but I take it on a case by case basis.



It’s a mixed bag. It’s not all bad. Some of the most fun places on the net are the niche things where you have shared interests with friends you never knew you had.

I had a cool forum about Ford Trucks and we went on there and had a ball most days, all while wrenching on our trucks and learning. Lots of off topic banter and friends.

The comment sections are the gutter of the net. That and Twitter. But it’s not all bad.


There are more than a few. I’d say at least 25% of the active members here are antagonistic and provoking.


An interesting phenomenon I witnessed many times as a teacher as well as experienced for myself: having people you know in real life troll you on the Internet, but be neutral (or even pleasant and nice) to your face. There’s always been two-faced people, and people who talk badly about others, but the Internet sure is a really nice vehicle for them to take it to the next level.

I used to write a blog for relatives who lived far away, and I ended up shutting it down because one person I knew in real life kept leaving the nastiest comments (of course anonymously, until I figured out how to discover who it was, because it became apparent after some time that they knew details about my life I had never posted). That was a very unsettling experience, to say the least.


One example of the good is this forum. I hate to mention it, but you don’t find very many people wanting to get into deep spiritual discussions in Parish Hall. I hope that is simply because many of us grew up not discussing our faith openly. I don’t get much time in my day to correspond. But, I have been greatly educated by reading much of the commons and material regarding faith on this site.

In regards to the negative, it is human nature to complain. Especially, in an anonymous arena like the Internet. Eventually, you learn to place no value or ignore them entirely. An example are those restaurant reviews on places like Yelp. I have had encounters where I was in another town, hungry and had no choice but to walk into a place where I just read some bad reviews. Fortunately, it ended up being a nice experience for me and I walked out wondering why anyone would complain?

But of course there are times when the Internet is good for raising voices that would collectively go unheard.


I was there too. And what you say above is true. But we didn’t get Time articles, or complaints to the IS staff, or efforts to shutdown certain types of communication because of the flame wars.

What I mean by the rise of overly sensitive people is the effort to shutdown these arenas.

Me either. It’s toxic. But I moved on, which apparently you have done as well. But now there are people claiming this toxic behavior, which has been there for decades, is ruining the internet. Mr Stein claims they have stepped up their game. No, they are the same type of people that existed in the late 80’s, they just have new arenas and larger audiences. And now there’s talk about insufficient legal frameworks to handle this. :rolleyes:

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