We all like to post pictures and what we ate that day on social media, thinking the collective public hangs on our every word. Some do, however some do not. Every once in a while (or regularly, depending on what you post), you get that negative comment from your hateful neighborhood troll. It makes you feel bad, ashamed, and angry. How dare they poke a hole in your skewed view of yourself? So you shoot a seething comment back at them, creating a vicious cycle that goes on and on into a black hole of negativity and pointlessness. But why do people think it is acceptable to say hateful/racist/etc. things and why do we react like third graders tattling on the school bully?
It is easy to say that trolls are the schoolyard bullies of the internet, but lately people have become more apt to run crying to the teacher (the social media admins) rather than deal with the problem themselves. And part of the reason trolls believe they can say whatever they want, apart from the reasons listed above, is because we have turned into a society of overly sensitive, childish pansies. Trolls take pleasure in seeing their opinions become dominate and overrule someone else’s opinion. They thrive on the victory of knowing they have “won the fight.” And running crying to the admins about someone being mean only spurs them on.
I myself am a huge South Park fan, not because of the fart jokes or the random ways Kenny dies, but because of the way they tackle present social issues. In this weeks episode, Cartman becomes overly sensitive to a trolls telling the fat little bully he didn’t look ripped with his shirt off. So PC principal (standing in place of the admins), assigns Butters the job of filtering out all the negative comments on Cartman’s Twitter feed. Essentially, South Park chose to call out the people who like to hide in their own little world of roses and rainbows in a hilarious, slightly crude way.
In another article published by Psychology Today, this one written by Hara Marano, talks about how we are becoming a “Nation of Wimps”. Parents today have become over protective, monitoring their child’s every move and thought. But doing such creates an individual unable to make it’s own decisions and deal with reality. David Elkind, a child psychologist and professor at Tufts University states, “Kid’s need to feel badly sometimes…We learn experience and we learn through bad experiences. Through failure we learn to cope”. As a student in her second year of college, I have the privilege of witnessing the peak of breaking these over protective kids experience. I will never forget sitting one of my first year classes and hearing a kid talk to another about how his mother “better send the check to pay for his classes or it would be her fault he dropped out”. I nearly choked on my coffee hearing that. As someone who has her own loans and works while going to school, that notion seemed ludacris to me. Parents have made their children so dependent on them that all their failure falls back on the parent. The lack of responsibility these kids feel turn them into unproductive adults, trolls, and wimps.
It is a vicious circle. We are raised to believe we can do no wrong, and as a result either become a wimp running to admins on social media or become a troll preying on the wimps. And the cycle continues and continues and won’t be stopped until children learn how to deal with people face to face without adults directing every move and word. But for the meantime, the rest of us will just sit back and watch the world burn.