Tuesday, August 28, 2012

profile bait vs troll bait

Profile bait and troll bait are common in social media. Here's the difference.

Today a friend of mine on Facebook posted a classic form of "profile bait":


If anyone is annoyed or mad at me please take a number and kindly move to the back of the line. 


Do you see what is going on here, from a social engineering angle? It's clever way to lure people to your profile page. When people read this post, they'll be curious and want to find out what you've been posting lately that might anger or irritate people. In this case, I think it was just sports stuff. 

I'm always amazed at how something as trivial as sports can cause tempers to flare and even violence to erupt. Sports, politics, religion, race, ethnicity, national origin, fashion, all sorts of topics can be the cause of hostility, hatred, and heated debates.

Why? Because some people, being empty inside, need to identify with something in an extreme manner, to fill their inner void. Extreme identification with an idea, person, object, or group gives some people a sense of belonging, purpose, and personal reality.

The problem is that when someone expresses a contrary view, the over-identified individual takes it very personally. They feel like an opposing, or simply different, opinion is a personal attack. This childish reaction is unrealistic and can be a harmful attitude to carry around.

In addition to "profile bait", there is "troll bait". Have you ever seen someone express their support for a political candidate, sports team, atheism, religion, or other issue in an inflammatory manner?

That's "troll bait". 

They're stating their opinion in an obnoxious, confrontational way in order to lure people into an argument. Often they will demonize those of differing views. They want you to troll them; they want flamers and other riled up types to enter into verbal combat with them. It's just another form of gratuitous violence.

"Candidate X is the only choice to save America, and if you don't see that, you're an imbecile with a hereditary brain disease."

"Sports Team Z is the greatest team in the history of sports and anybody who disagrees is a total idiot."

"If you believe in God, you're against the progress of science."

"If you question our pastor, you're fighting against God."

"My nation is specially chosen to dominate and lead the world."

Inflammatory statements are begging for a fight. The person making such statements may be in denial and claim "I'm just expressing what I really think" but there's more to it.

You can speak your mind in a polite and dignified manner. You can express an opinion in a sincere and intelligent way, without inciting riots. 

Before posting that strongly worded opinion, ask yourself:

Am I trying to stir up extreme emotions? 

Do I want to argue about this? Why? 

Am I being sadistic? Do I get a weird pleasure from attacking other people with my ideas? 

Do I want to humiliate those who have different views? 

Do I hate the fact that some people have opposing opinions? 

Do I wish everyone agreed with me? 

Would that make me happy? 

Why do I think all my views are superior? 

Am I so insecure that I have to try to silence those who disagree? 

Do I tend to mock and say filthy things to those who dissent, or do I honestly want to engage in an educated discussion to understand the other side of this issue and test my own opinions?

Why do I even feel compelled to express this opinion? Am I trying to share something valuable and helpful with others? 

Or am I just reacting to all the propaganda from the other side, which has pushed my buttons and got me all upset?

What do I hope to accomplish?

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