The Psychology of Social Media Trolls


Why in the world would someone spend their hours online saying negative and nasty things to people they don’t even know?

Probably because they are addicted to behavior, but most importantly, they’re probably narcissists, psychopaths or they are bullies.

Those were the findings of a Michigan State and U Cal Fullerton study of 472 college-aged students 18-24 on Snapchat and Facebook.

Houston social media expert Crystal Washington says the draw is access to so many people that they otherwise would not be able to reach. “And if you walk into a crowded venue in the real world, say you walk into a sports stadium, in a pre-Covid world, you don’t have the microphone. You don’t have the ability to push all these people’s buttons.” It’s a way to feel powerful if you’re powerless in your real life.

Washington says in her experience people are who they are.“The negative Nancy’s I know in the real world are negative online.” And the opposite is true, she says. People whose attitudes are positive tend to leave positive posts.

The researchers found those subjects with addictive personality traits tend to be more problematic in their behaviors on social media.

Washington has found a brilliant way to manage the trolls she encounters. She makes a small donation to a group that represents the people being trolled, but puts the donation in the name of the troller, and then sends them a message to inform them of the donation. It’s a way to bring a bright ray of light into someone who is experiencing a dark time.


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