Calling It What It Is: the Unspoken Validation of Online Abuse
K. C. Alexander
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I agree with the author. Twitter’s nonresponse to swarming trolls is sufficient reason to avoid it.

But there’s more going on here than lousy social media design or inadequate attention to the need for employee (or volunteer, as is the case with Wikipedia) moderation.

Hate isn’t new. Threats aren’t new. Bullying isn’t new.

The sad truth is that humanity in general, and Americans in particular, have always produced sadistic, sociopathic humans in large numbers. You would like to hope that as we advance our technological civilization, something could be done about that. Hope might not be dead on that score, but there is no progress.

Part of the problem is that our so-called science of human minds, psychology, doesn’t even have a workable categorization scheme for sociopathy (or psychopathy; not precisely the same term, but that’s part of the problem of categorization).

Here’s the deal: it should be pretty obvious that ‘true’ sociopaths (zero empathy for anyone) should be distinguished from ‘selective sociopaths’ (zero empathy for selected outgroups). The former are not numerous; the latter are very numerous. Psychology has no category for selective sociopaths and has not studied how they operate.

The consensus in psychology is that there is no treatment that works for true sociopaths; and since it fails to acknowledge selective sociopathy as a category, it is silent on mitigation for that class of haters. This is an error. Selective sociopaths are flexible. The outgroups which they despise are malleable. Research could point the way towards mitigation strategies.

In other words, we could, potentially, if we understood how selective sociopathy works, drain the swamp instead of just shrugging and living in it. There will always be true sociopaths, and true sociopaths will always be dangerous; but they aren’t numerous. They don’t swarm.

Avoiding selectively-sociopathic trolls in social media is a fruitless game of whack-a-mole. Abandon Twitter, go somewhere else, they will follow. So long as we live in a swamp filled with selective sociopaths, we will always have this problem.

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