Anonymity on the Internet seems to be quite a large factor in the troll’s game. Essentially, the ability to be anonymous can free us up to express some things we would never openly express in public.
From the basal bigoted ideas we harbor, yet tell no one about, to the insecurities we’ve learned to collect throughout our time in society and on planet earth, trolling seems to be a stream for a number of these personal prejudices to come to the surface without our identity being known.
This quote from How to be Moral on the Internet has been bouncing around in my mind over the last 24 hours.
Would the Internet be a friendlier place if everyone used his or her real name?
Would you say and do the same things online if you knew that your boss, parents, neighbours or friends might be reading over your shoulder?
From what I’ve seen strongly encouraging the use of real names online would weed out most trolls. There are people in this world who find gristly pleasure in anonymous Internet battles. I don’t understand their thought processes but this seems to be something that happens to every website, chat group and message board that has ever existed!
While the vast majority of my readers are thoughtful and respectful occasionally I have had to edit the comment section on certain posts to weed out less savoury replies. So far it has not been frequent enough for me to disallow anonymous comments or moderate any readers but the experiences of some of my friends on their sites have been much more conflicted.
Not everyone is comfortable using their true identity online, though. I know people who have created a pseudonym for commenting on blogs and message boards and participating in social media that remains stable for a long period of time. Some of these individuals eventually reveal their real name to trusted friends. Others don’t. All of them maintain dignified, kind personas, though, and would not benefit from social pressure to reveal who they really are to the world.
Even with the use of real identities there will always be aggressive individuals in a place as unregulated as the Internet. After all, We haven’t even figured out how to stop them in real life yet!