A bit of additional perspective…
Back in the 1990’s, as the internet became more widely used and WWW was just emerging, I got a copy of perhaps the first such book on, if I recall, “The Psychology of the Internet”. The basic point that stuck in my mind was that the cover of remoteness and anonymity seems to empower behavior from dark psychological recesses of the human mind. And too neuro-science about how multiple, even hundreds of mental but sub- or pre-conscious processes are running constantly in the human brain/psyche. Social-cultural conditioning (parental training, further levels of education) functions to channel and mitigate, moderate what gets expressed overtly. Minus the context of face-to-face encounter and “manners,” precepts if you will, that restrain in personal contact, then all manner of other behaviors find freer rein.
2017-03-02 23:32:17 UTC #4
Yeah, the stories about the Buddha converting fierce Yakkhas into the ascetic and contemplative life acquire new significance with the modern increase in online communication.
Then there’s the idea, found in some interpretations of the Sutta-s, that all the various devas and demons ( or whatever on the lower and higher levels) can be understood as representations of those darker corners, processes that live in the individual (but im- or trans-personal) human psyche. And, as Vstakan mentions, those demonic types can have positive roles.
and historical parallels:
Just a couple of weeks ago, Elaine Pagels (professor / writer on religious cultural history) gave a talk nearby at Stanford, on “Satan – How a fictional being still shadows our views of gender, race, and politics”, reviewing and updating issues in her book “The Origin of Satan” (1995). It turns out that in early Hebrew writings, some angels (“messengers”) had negative as well as positive roles, e.g. would be dispatched by God to test or punish people, as in the case of Job.
Over time, and especially as eventually taken-up and developed in the other Abrahamic religions, Satan became more separate, totally evil, dualistic antagonist to God/goodness. She also noted a distinction between those who demonize their doctrinal or other opponents, and leaders like Ghandhi and Martin Luther King who avoided identifying persons with evil abstractions.
Similarly in Chinese and Tibetan art – demonic appearing characters having a beneficial place in the cosmos. Several years ago at an exhibit of Taoist art (across 2+ millennia) in San Francisco, I was struck by medieval depictions of groups of 4 or 5 “noble” traditional mythic figures together, e.g. often LaoTze, the Yellow Emperor, Confucius the Buddha, etc.,AND often including a character with bulging eyes, darker complexion, long fangs, and armed to the teeth, so to speak – s/t king and controller of the demonic hordes, keeping them in line;
or also as sort of general or “Minister of Defense”.
2017-03-03 14:56:52 UTC #16
I personally think the word “troll” is overused.
Another term used in this context is “sock puppet”, as in an avatar or persona used to cause trouble without identifying oneself.