My friend Matthew suggests here http://memetechnology.org/2013/09/26/decoding-the-digital-part-1-the-playful-aristocracy/
that “… the Leviathan, the unawakened digital majority who now have access to the internet, but no time to play with it.” includes “…a contingent there who, possibly feeling dis-empowered by the those who wield an on-line reputation of any sort, seek to drive their targets off the internet, though constant anonymous abuse.” Although he quite sensibly qualifies this “I don’t want to tar the whole Leviathan with the same brush …” However, I wonder how much truth there really is in this concept?
Wikipedia’s entry on trolls http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trolling states “Two studies published in 2013 and 2014 have found that people who are identified as trolls tend to have dark personality traits and show signs of sadism, antisocial behavior, psychopathy, and Machiavellianism.” So it would seem that personality may be more important than disempowerment.
[Personality and Individual Differences, Volume 67, September 2014, Pages 97–102, The Dark Triad of Personality: “Trolls just want to have fun”, Erin E. Buckelsa, Paul D. Trapnellb, & Delroy L. Paulhusc.
“… cyber-trolling appears to be an Internet manifestation of everyday sadism.”
[Jonathan Bishop – The effect of de-individuation of the Internet Troller on Criminal Procedure implementation: An interview with a Hater, 2013 International Journal of Cyber Criminology. January – June 2013, Vol 7 (1): 28–48
Bishop distinguishes different types of trolling and interviewed a type “known as a ‘hater’ “. “the psychopathy of Internet trollers resembles those with [anti-social] personality disorders.” Bishop’s ‘haters’ resent others who are more successful than they are. The troll said that trolling passed the time “between stacking shelves” (ie real-world economic disenfranchisement, rather than any digital divide)
Also, what qualifies people to be on the wrong side of the digital divide? I post on
Facebook, but have never had a blog until now. Was I a digital producer, or (more plausibly) merely a consumer of digital “junk-food”? I don’t see a clear digital divide in the UK, just 50 shades of grey separating the digiterati from the cyberphobes.
I hope Matthew will excuse me having another niggle, this time at his more recent post on a related topic http://memetechnology.org/2014/06/20/dis-connected-life/ where he says ‘The political class seek to be more nimble and responsive by leveraging “big data” … Do the disenfranchised contribute less data to the the Big Data … ?’ I really don’t think so. I suspect that they are the ones giving masses of their data to Tesco via their club cards and mobile phones! Whether that’s a good thing and whether the political class should be using Big Data rather than conventional political techniques are separate questions, on which I will spare you my opinions for now.