Have you ever come across a person on the internet who has been so riled up about something, so ready to pick a fight about something, so ready to die on a hill for something that you thought to yourself “What’s wrong with this person?!”
Maybe they took umbrage with a girl posting photos of herself, or maybe they just really hated a YouTube channel. Either way, they unleash a torrent of abusive and malicious comments.
Try and picture that kind of person in your head right now. Odds are, you might be thinking of someone who looks like the man in the photo at top.
But according to research from Tokyo International University’s Global Communication department, they may in fact look more like this:
▼ “Time to schedule in some Internet hate between work meetings.”
Shinichi Yamaguchi, a professor at Tokyo International University, conducted two studies in 2014 and 2016, using 20,000 and 40,000 participants respectively. The studies found that out of all the people who answered that they were likely to participate in online aggression, 70 percent of them were male.
The participants were also asked about their annual income, highlighting another discrepancy between trolls and those who prefer to stay away from drama. Those who were more abusive online had an average annual salary of 6.7 million yen, whereas non-flamers earned on average 5.9 million yen, potentially dispelling the myth that haters may not be the stereotypical young unemployed person with too much time.
So if they aren’t bored, unemployed youth, what kind of jobs do online hate spammers do?
The survey’s final question asked participants to list their line of work. The answers varied over a wide range of professions, and while 30 percent of replies were from unemployed people, students or housewives, 31 percent of replies were from people in managerial positions.
▼ What line of work are you in?
So why are these kinds of people more likely to engage in internet hate? According to Yamaguchi, people who write hateful comments feel like it’s their duty, and by letting their feelings known they are dealing out justice.
But Japanese commenters had different suggestions for why they thought people, especially those in a higher position at work, were more likely to engage in online abuse:
“It’s probably just their way of releasing stress.”
“The kind of people who believe their way of thinking is the right way are likely to do better in the working world, I guess.”
“They’re used to being above, looking down on other people.”
“If you’ve got more money, why waste your time fighting online? Do something more fun with your life.”
“Yet the people who get busted for online abuse are always those with lower incomes.”
Sadly, it seems these days that the internet is riddled with hateful comments. If you ever feel yourself getting riled up, itching to make a spiteful reply, maybe take a deep breath and think about whether it’s really worth it or not before you click send.
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