No, no. Internet trolls. This gargantuan 7 page NYTimes article examines the history and motivations of the Internet's bridge-dwelling monsters.
Why inflict anguish on a helpless stranger? Itâ..s tempting to blame technology, which increases the range of our communications while dehumanizing the recipients. Cases like An Hero and Megan Meier presumably wouldnâ..t happen if the perpetrators had to deliver their messages in person. But while technology reduces the social barriers that keep us from bedeviling strangers, it does not explain the initial trolling impulse. This seems to spring from something ugly â.. a destructive human urge that many feel but few act upon, the ambient misanthropy thatâ..s a frequent ingredient of art, politics and, most of all, jokes. Thereâ..s a lot of hate out there, and a lot to hate as well.
So far, despite all this discord, the Internetâ..s system of civil machines has proved more resilient than anyone imagined. As early as 1994, the head of the Internet Society warned that spam â..will destroy the network.â. The news media continually present the online world as a Wild West infested with villainous hackers, spammers and pedophiles. And yet the Internet is doing very well for a frontier town on the brink of anarchy. Its traffic is expected to quadruple by 2012. To say that trolls pose a threat to the Internet at this point is like saying that crows pose a threat to farming.