So I just finished writing the latest installment for my column XY for the current issue of Cahoots magazine — it’s not up yet, but I’ll link it when it is. The column is a kind of amateur explanation of the implications of sociobiology, by a non-specialist, which means, er, well, thin ice and all that.
Yet surely nobody would disagree with this month’s premise, inspired (if the word can be used) by a recent nasty experience here on my own site, which is basically that when it comes to dysfunctional behaviour online, men run amok digitally in very different ways from how women do. That is, most of the people who set about Trolling online are male. Why is that?
(As I say, I’ll post a link when the article’s live, and you can see my attempt at an answer.)
Anyway, I was trying to find some research about this topic, scholarly research I mean, and I couldn’t find much, but I did find an article by Jiwook Shin with the following title: Morality and Internet Behavior: A study of the Internet Troll and its relation with morality on the Internet, which was presented at a conference earlier this year. I find this interesting for two reasons: one, because the author seems, from the excerpt, to be a Korean student — the telltale use of the word “netizen” and also because it looks like with was written by someone who is not a native speaker of English. (Not that it’s bad, just… there are little things.) Anyway, look at Shin’s abstract, available (along with publication information) here:
A part of new generation residing in the Internet space, Troll, is threatening netizen’s well-being. A troll is a person who interrupts communications on the Internet, and often seen as problematic or even criminals. According to Durkheim, the order of society is maintained by morality. Morality has definite rules and conducts which every member of the society agrees upon and depends on. Morality is functional since it has authority and regularity. Therefore people know how to behave and what is right or wrong offline. In the Internet space, however, people do not perceive clear codes of conducts on the Internet, nor authority and regularity, according to the result of this study. Unlike offline morality reinforced by education, that online morality have not been shared and not even discussed so provides the existence of Troll.
The emphases are mine, and are very interesting. They seem to relate well to the current Korean discussion of Internet censorship and speech/identity rights. (As in, the debate over whether there should exist a right to anonymity online.)