Asperger's Syndrome and the Internet Troll

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We have met the Troll, and the Troll is...
Us aspies 13%  13%  [ 18 ]
Socially guileful NTs with a penchant for winding us up while posing as our kind 12%  12%  [ 16 ]
Neither aspie nor NT but rather some other creature entirely 11%  11%  [ 15 ]
No more likely to be aspie than NT (i.e., no correlation) 40%  40%  [ 55 ]
Aspie trolls differ from NT trolls 17%  17%  [ 23 ]
I do not believe in the Troll 7%  7%  [ 9 ]
Total votes : 136

NeantHumain
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24 Nov 2007, 5:07 pm

In real life, I personally know or have known ten different people with Asperger's syndrome, and at least five of them display trollish qualities in their Internet social conduct from time to time. Not all of them were flagrant trolls (although at least two "did it for the lulz"), but many of them displayed characteristics I have come to associate with the known troll:

  • A fondness for adopting unconventional social roles or shifting personae (e.g., acting, playing devil's advocate, imaginative storytelling, character development)
  • Argumentativeness or a love for debate for its own shake or for its intellectually stimulating value
  • Unperturbedness amidst controversy and lesser response to emotional demonstration in others
  • High verbal intelligence
  • Boredom and restlessness from dull conversation or situations

I have found that the presence of these personality traits strongly predicts trollish behavior. In other words, these are the fuel, and an uninteresting conversation about types of tea or the current weather in some part of Canada is the spark. Kaboom! The known troll douses the forum or chat room with his or her flame wars and unbridled opinionation! However, certain other types of Asperger's can exacerbate the trolling epidemic:

The Literalist:
  • Has an especially poor understanding of irony, metaphor, and figurative language
  • Takes everything seriously and nothing in jest
  • Has a strong (if unconscious) belief that their thoughts and actions directly cause others' behavior; will see trolling behavior as a personal failure on their part
  • Especially naïve understanding of social interaction
  • May easily become depressed and withdrawn

The Hothead:
  • Unmodulated emotional responses to stimuli (especially anger and rage)
  • Blames others for own emotions
  • Vocal, demanding a high degree of control over the social and physical environment (will scream, "Ban him/her!" at even innocent non-trolls)
  • Prone to make ad hominem attacks in anger
  • Needs time to "cool down" before being able to think rationally
  • Manipulative (e.g., befriends forum moderators or channel operators to have those he/she dislikes banned more readily)
  • Self-centered (e.g., only interested in talking about what he or she is interested in and will forcibly restore the topic of conversation to that if it changes to something "uncomfortable")
  • When spotted by a troll, will be bated more and more until worked up into a frenzied goo; careful trolls will disarm his or her relationships with mods/ops to prevent a premature/unwanted ban
  • Makes snap judgments first, asks questions later (if ever)

The Sad Case:
  • Unmodulated emotional responses to stimuli (but in this case mostly panic and depression)
  • Blames self for most everything
  • The hotheaded types are likely to use this type as social evidence to back their position (e.g., "See, other people are also upset by this!"); seeks the protection of the hotheaded types
  • Likes to talk about their myriad dysfunctions and problems
  • Has history of suicide attempts or self-injurious behavior
  • Often middle-aged to elderly or adolescent and usually female
  • Controlling via emotional protestations
  • Wants to avoid emotionally upsetting or offensive conversations


The last two in particular may not be exclusive to Asperger's syndrome but may in fact constitute a sort of psychosocial residue of loser that precipitates to Internet-based communities, where they may feel more empowered than in most other social contexts. The Literalist, of course, has a severe case of Asperger's syndrome or a low- to medium-functioning case of Kanner's autism.



ouinon
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24 Nov 2007, 5:16 pm

I can see the aspie type, "stimming" by stirring up an argument, like twiddling with ideas, without fully understanding how much this really can upset people, esp aspies, for whom mental furniture is very sensitive. But I think an NT type exists too, full of frustration or anger and out to upset, in a different way.

8)



Last edited by ouinon on 25 Nov 2007, 5:00 am, edited 1 time in total.

Postperson
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24 Nov 2007, 5:18 pm

i would think a big aspie ego plays a part with AS trolls. There is an 'I'm always right' or "I am everyone, therefore everyone agrees with me' kind of thinking in some AS people. It's an upper case sense of I, rather than a lower case i

It's considered 'fun' to come trolling here and then brag about it at another (supposedly) AS group. This is the "I got banned from WP hahahhaaaa" type.

As for the non-AS or AS poseur trolls - presumably there is some diagnosable condition to them, why else would they bother. MPD maybe? Borderline? Antisocial?



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24 Nov 2007, 6:01 pm

You have just described near everyone on WP, and called them trolls?

You are trying to start a flame war between others for your amusement.

What kind of person does that, what are they called?

Your post is Exibit "A", a display of mental superiority.



lowfreq50
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24 Nov 2007, 6:59 pm

Inventor wrote:
You have just described near everyone on WP, and called them trolls?

You are trying to start a flame war between others for your amusement.

What kind of person does that, what are they called?

Your post is Exibit "A", a display of mental superiority.


It looks like YOU'RE the one casting the first stone. Troll much?



BrutalRhubarb
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24 Nov 2007, 8:09 pm

lowfreq50 wrote:
Inventor wrote:
You have just described near everyone on WP, and called them trolls?

You are trying to start a flame war between others for your amusement.

What kind of person does that, what are they called?

Your post is Exibit "A", a display of mental superiority.


It looks like YOU'RE the one casting the first stone. Troll much?


haha, this is funny, none of you know what you're talking about and we are (or at least I am) intensely interested in continuing this for the sake of insanity. Fortunately for you, I see no way to further it. Good day, folks.



Inventor
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24 Nov 2007, 9:20 pm

lowfreq50 wrote:
Inventor wrote:
You have just described near everyone on WP, and called them trolls?

You are trying to start a flame war between others for your amusement.

What kind of person does that, what are they called?

Your post is Exibit "A", a display of mental superiority.


It looks like YOU'RE the one casting the first stone. Troll much?


And the first fish bites.



scumsuckingdouchebag
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24 Nov 2007, 9:24 pm

I've always interpreted the word internet 'troll' as those mythical creatures known as trolls, and never made a connection between the internet term 'troll' and fishing, but about a month ago I made the connection, given the word 'bait' was involved.



ToadOfSteel
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24 Nov 2007, 9:28 pm

I used to troll many years ago, but that was because I was an immature pre-teen with internet access...



lowfreq50
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25 Nov 2007, 1:49 am

Inventor wrote:
lowfreq50 wrote:
Inventor wrote:
You have just described near everyone on WP, and called them trolls?

You are trying to start a flame war between others for your amusement.

What kind of person does that, what are they called?

Your post is Exibit "A", a display of mental superiority.


It looks like YOU'RE the one casting the first stone. Troll much?


And the first fish bites.


You certainly did. Go back to your bridge.



siuan
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25 Nov 2007, 1:55 am

I don't know. I used to think of trolls as the NT bully type. Having spent some time here I have learned that many aspies have trolled (or still do). So I thought about it (having been a student of psychology, I ask questions like this) and I realized that it isn't out of the park to think an aspie could/would toll. Often we're victims of bullying our whole lives. Some want to "try it out" on others, wear the other's shoes, so to speak. Some are just bitter and act out accordingly. Some may just be curious.

But a troll is a troll is a troll is....


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Danielismyname
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25 Nov 2007, 2:24 am

Being a jerk isn't specific to a certain mental disorder, perhaps how the jerk presents itself can be swayed by such (personality disorder), but it's far more in the field of personality over neurological differences/damage.

Those with Asperger's can be insensitive in social interaction, but that's easy to see/spot (it's in the diagnostic manual after all).



NeantHumain
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29 Nov 2007, 9:37 pm

siuan wrote:
I don't know. I used to think of trolls as the NT bully type. Having spent some time here I have learned that many aspies have trolled (or still do). So I thought about it (having been a student of psychology, I ask questions like this) and I realized that it isn't out of the park to think an aspie could/would toll. Often we're victims of bullying our whole lives. Some want to "try it out" on others, wear the other's shoes, so to speak. Some are just bitter and act out accordingly. Some may just be curious.

But a troll is a troll is a troll is....

I've never thought of them as bullies. Instead I wonder if they've found a new plane of existence.



Myrkabah
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29 Nov 2007, 10:23 pm

I think most trolls are simply either children, or have not developed past that phase.

Stirring other people up for your own personal amusement is a very childish trait.



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29 Nov 2007, 11:03 pm

I've known many Aspies and HF auties in real life, and I've known none that troll online. Most avoid online forums because they dislike the contention and conflict. From personal experience and my study of autism, I do not think, as a norm, that Aspies and auties have conflict-seeking personalities. They can get argumentive over things they feel intensely about - but that's NOT the same as being generally conflict-seeking. If someone with as ASD is conflict-seeking, I would suspect the individual has some other psychological issue that makes them such. Either that, or they have been mis'dx'd as autistic.

Because many trolls are glib - or attempt to be - I am disinclined to think they have an ASD. Glibness is something that most autisitics just don't possess. Sociopaths, yes, but autistics, no.

Since there's the possibilty that trolling behavior might be indicative of someone who IS both glib and conflict-seeking, and these traits are more indicative of a sociopath than an autistic, I'm more inclined to think that they are sociopaths. Sociopaths can also possess the traits you list. I also don't consider sociopaths really "NTs" because they're obviously disturbed in someway that makes them behave contrary to what we ascribed to an NT. In many cases, sociopaths may have impaired neurology (usually a frontal lobe impairment) at the root of their behavior, and that would mean they are not clinically "neurotypical."



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29 Nov 2007, 11:13 pm

Personally, I vote for pain and anger as the main drivers for trolls. Someone is too teed off to think objectively, so they go off on people, pick fights and hurt whomever they can. That would help explain why trolliferous behavior is seen in both AS and NT posters.


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