So a colleague of mine told me he was doing a qualitative study on a variety of moral and legal issues that occur online which relate back to people called 'trolls' and a deviant behavior called 'trolling'. I knew little about it and so he told me to look up Encyclopedia Dramatica; by the way, don't go their unless you know what it is prior to visiting. Even as someone who tries to have an open mind as my background is dealing with different cultures and subgroups, I have to admit I found it really upsetting and unbelievably ignorant. A lot of the people on the 'deviant side' argue for freedom of speech, feel no one can take a joke, feel they defy society on numerous levels and contribute to dis/re-organization, and numerous other reasons ranging from logical to completely irrational. One theme which is a constant sentiment is that if people would just 'not care' then they would stop. The not caring part isn't easy, as the things they do range from an amusing laugh to more frequently detrimental results, and sometimes even prison time or death. Here is one of the mainstream articles on the issue: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/03/magazine/03trolls-t.html (it is a long read) This article showed one interesting thing above all others. The person who started talking on behalf of a girl who committed suicide (described her as she 'had it coming') nearly had a full mental breakdown when he discussed his relationship his parent's. That in itself shows that the guy is not superhuman. Despite claiming that it is silly to get upset about the things says and does, if a minor discussion with a friend about his parents got him that upset, I think that he would be very upset about someone posting pictures of them peeing on their grave, listing their addresses, social security number, bank accounts, contacts, etc, complete life history, anything and everything that is personal and more. To be honest I don't think that anyone in immune from being hurt with words. Trolls exploit this and hurting and embarrassing people is their ultimate goal; but if then what they were doing was pulled on them, I think it would be a different scenario. We ALL hold certain things as sacred and there are certain things you just don't say; well unless you are a troll as then you are saying it. So why is it that people would be willing to do the terrible things they do on the internet, but not in person? It is obviously the anonymity. The concept is: "no one knows it was me so I am not at fault" and "whatever comes out of what I said isn't my fault, I just said some words". Furthermore, there is a strong mob-mentality, which is where after one person begins a fight (or in this case doing something online), then everyone else joins in because they see no social responsibility for their actions due to them not starting it and a gazillion other people doing it too. This is a bad situation guys and it is a problem that is getting worse as time goes on as more and more people get on the Internet. Regulating what people say online is virtually impossible and may not even be legal for that matter. A lot of kids, adolescents and teenagers have very real mental distress, anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts and even suicidal actions because of things that occur online; the mental health industry is not prepared for this. There isn't a lot of information on the short and long-term mental health effects of it. Obviously, there is also the problems of cyberstalking, pedophilia, child pornography, black market sales, online theft, broadcasted violence and more. In many ways, these problems have really been overlooked, but as they become more and more prominent, it is hard to deny their impact. Something has to be done; but what, I do not know. Thoughts? Policy recommendations?