Maybe’s it’s not sadism, but opposite – a lack of confidence. Trolling could be a mechanism for lowering expectations, a way to dull the sting of rejection, which according to studies is a really awful. If the expectation is that your commentary will be poorly received, any praise is upside and negative feedback is anticipated. It’s like hoping for the best and preparing for the worst, but by trolling you put yourself in the mindset of anticipating the worse.
The above TED talk on rejection is accurate to some extent, but misses a key point: The worse rejection is not rejection that is expected, but reejction that is unanticipated, such as rejection from friends and family, for example. If you go a store, approach the manager, and demand free stuff, you probably won’t be surprised the manager rebukes your demands; after all, it’s a store, not a charity. You probably never expected free stuff, but if he somehow says yes, awesome.
It’s impossible to ‘not give a fuck’ or develop ‘thick skin’. Humans are wired to be self-conscious – that’s what makes us different than, say, ants. To turn this off would require some degree of psychopathy or inebriation. Just tired of these useless self-help guides that purport to show you how to override human nature. Can’t be done. Even when a multi-platinum artist gets bad reviews on his latest album, his money doesn’t shield him – it hurts.
So that is one element of trolling that no one talks about, but is probably relevant.
The feeling of being ‘left out’ is something that one normally assumes applies to children and teens – you outgrow it as an adult, but the question, Do you feel like you’re missing out?, that I posed on Hacker Network apparently touched a nerve, as evidenced by all the replies:
It seems like with all this amazing stuff going on in the world (surging web 2.0 valuations, people becoming instantly rich & famous in tech, booming stocks & home prices, new discoveries in physics, twitter debates, viral content and insta-fame) does it ever feel like you’re missing out, like there is a big party going and you’re watching from the sidelines.
I cannot blame anyone for feeling this way, and I go through this, too, which probably motivated me to ask the question and why it went viral on the site. We find ourselves living in incredible, yet very unequal times. The ‘big-fish–little-pond’ effect seems to be at play here, in that we care not so much for our own nominal/absolute prosperity, but our prosperity and status relative to our peers, friends, neighbors…etc. There is so much going on in the world and maybe the internet, which gives us this window to the world, is also a reminder of our quaintness at the individual level. Many want to be not just passive consumers, but also participants – a participation that goes beyond updating a Facebook status or posting a tweet that will not be read.
Part of this blog is not just posting opinions, but trying to better understand the world, how things work, why things are the way they are, and so on.