Why do trolls troll?

Published Feb 01, 2018 | Written by Jeremy Knight

There’s something I need to vent about. 





See that’s the thing with trolls. No one knows who they are, where they are, or why they do what they do.

Or do we?

According to Quartz Media, trolls share one common trait: an extremely low level of emotional intelligence. Which of course, makes perfect sense. 

Why would someone with a decent level of emotional intelligence deliberately set out to hurt other people? 

I’ve written blog posts before that have encouraged conversations between your readers and followers. A narrative that allows you to engage in social listening. Monitoring interactions between your followers can often reveal crucial information that will help you shape and steer your future content. 

But unfortunately, no matter how good our intentions are, we see these gremlins everywhere. Facebook, Youtube, Instagram, Twitter...

And the comments can be so hurtful, violent, inflammatory, vulgar. 

Why the readiness to attack people? 

Well, it could be down to their narcissistic nature, paired with sadistic tendencies and higher levels of psychopathic traits...

And interestingly, cognitive empathy is considerably higher in trolls, since they know that what they’re saying is hurting people. But, pair that with an increased level affective empathy, and they simply don’t care.

So that’s the psychology behind it. But is the internet the ultimate platform for bullies? 

Unfortunately, it's their playground, and their intent is to provoke and upset.

Psychology Today puts their medium of choice down to a number of reasons:

  • Anonymity
  • Perceived obscurity
  • Perceived majority status
  • Social identity silence
  • Surrounded by ‘friends’
  • Desensitisation
  • Personality status 
  • Perceived lack of consequences 

So perhaps we have to accept that as long as the internet provides them with a platform, the trolls will be there waiting to attack.

But there are some useful ways to deal with them:

  • Feel sorry for them
  • Don't respond (they thrive off being challenged)
  • Report them to said platform
  • Use a platform where you can review comments before they are published, and simply decline theirs
  • If you can, unmask them 

I think it’s down to a burning desire to be recognised; to provoke a reaction. 

My advice? Ignore them, remove the comments, and if you can, block them

Take it all with a pinch of salt. 

It’s not personal, and it’s certainly not your problem- it’s theirs. So bless their rotten little souls and be done with them. 

There are more important things to focus on than smelly old trolls!


Why do people think it’s okay to say racist, inflammatory, or otherwise socially inappropriate things online? Research in communication and psychology has investigated people’s perceptions, rationale, and behavior and identified several factors that determine the likelihood that a given individual may post offensive content.


Published by Jeremy Knight February 1, 2018
Jeremy Knight