Trolling for validation

By Ke Rensi Source:Global Times Published: 2017/11/12 5:03:40

If you have some screen time under your belt, you have probably seen more than your fair share of Internet trolling. The Chinese Internet slang term jiàn pán xiá, which literally means "keyboard knight-errant," paints a picture of Internet users who roam the web in search of opportunities to rant.

I once wrote for an English language blog and saw many readers who got a real kick out of hurling insults at each other in the comments section. Judging from their usernames, I think most of them were men.

 Once, I translated an article about a Chinese man's take on interracial relationships for the blog. The author of the original article was disgruntled by the increasing number of Chinese woman dating foreign men. The translation came out in four installments and quickly sparked plenty of ire. Among the 4,159 comments, one sentence struck me, "I think you are a racist."

From then on, I became more conscious when posting online and of people's responses as well. I came to realize that behind the inflammatory online posts was an urge to seek validation. A new study published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior confirmed my guess: Men are more likely to be Internet trolls than women because they show higher levels of narcissism. Narcissistic people crave recognition and admiration.

I think another reason is that their upbringing hampered their ability to express sorrow. Their repressed sadness turned into anger, hence the online diatribes.

Now, I manage a Weibo page that promotes gender equality and cultural diversity. Four months ago, I reposted an article about the problematic lessons in manhood for boys. A man left a rather extraneous comment, "Because women despise losers and kiss up to rich men."

I sensed some frustration, so I replied, "Gender education will change this. Cheer up!"

He responded, "Right. There should be more education about 'women's virtues.'"

I was more curious than offended, so I went over to his Weibo page. To my surprise, he was once on the verge of becoming homeless, and his Weibo posts were fraught with rage. I suddenly felt sorry for him. "Were you hurt by a snobbish woman who favors the rich and disdains the poor?" I asked. He never answered my question.

This article was published on the Global Times Metropolitan section Two Cents page, a space for reader submissions, including opinion, humor and satire. The ideas expressed are those of the author alone, and do not represent the position of the Global Times.


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