What the internet had to do with Trump's success

Cyberpsychologist Mary Aiken says the candidate is a troll who has jumped off the internet and into the real world.

Irish cyberpsychologist Mary Aiken discusses the reasons why the internet has helped Donald Trump succeed in a video for BigThink. She says the main reason is the candidate is a troll who has jumped off the internet into the real world.

She argues cyber migration, a phenomenon in which online behavior affects the offline world and the other way around, has made discriminatory behaviours normal and acceptable. The online environment has normalize this speech through trolling. A troll is someone who starts arguments or upsets people by posting inflammatory or off-topic messages in an online community and expects an emotional response from the readers.

“The motivation for trolling behavior appears to be a combination of boredom, revenge, pleasure, attention and a desire to cause disruption and acquire power,” wrote Aiken in Time Magazine

She says cyber migration works perfectly in Trumps case. The study “Trolls just want to have fun” available in Science Direct  discusses the traces of troll’s personality. The study found people who troll score higher in an index that measures Machiavellian, narcissistic and even psychopathic traits. Trolling concludes the study trolling is a manifestation of everyday sadism.

In terms of the elections, Trump’s speeches during the primaries were known for its discriminatory tone against  migrants and the muslim population. The problem with this, besides the obvious, is the fact that children are perceiving this tone from a person who could become the President of the United States. He used cruelty and discrimination and won support for his views, which is worrying. Nate Silver, an american statistician and campaign prognosticator even declared he “is the world’s greatest troll.”

“Once established as a norm and used by revered public officials, this behavioral shift could unfortunately prevail in other aspects of life. In this way, and others, the digital revolution is having a monumental impact on our lives,” says Aiken.


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