Perceptually Distorted Online Assailants
iPredator Bridge is a theoretical sub-concept to iPredator representing the exploration and study of people who use Information and Communications Technology (ICT) to harm others motivated by self-righteousness, moral turpitude, ideological convictions and pro-social perceptual distortions. Initially not driven by criminal, malevolent or deviant endeavors, iPredator Bridge seeks to understand why some people approach the nefarious and malevolent realm of iPredator, decide to proceed, and then continue along a trajectory where their cognitive, affective, behavioral and perceptual actions harm others or societies.
The Information Age is a societal paradigm and period beginning in the last quarter of the 20th century and presently thriving in the second decade of the 21st century. The Information Age is a stage in societal and technological development like the Industrial Revolution (1750-1942). The Information Age represents the evolution, emergence, consumption of and reliance upon Information and Communications Technology (ICT). In a mere four decades, ICT and its importance to humanity have led many to surmise that the planet and its human inhabitants are amidst an Information Revolution. Mobile digital technology, telecommunications, social media and the abstract concept and artificial universe of cyberspace are just a few examples of humanities newest frontiers to obtain, exchange and disseminate information.
The planet is experiencing a shift from traditional industry, born and bred during the Industrial Revolution, to an economy based on the creative and rapid manipulation of information. Just as the Industrial Revolution changed the lives of humanity, the Information Revolution is a societal shift rapidly changing humanity’s social, economic and psychological conditions of the times. The Information Revolution marks another major turning point in history, following the Industrial Revolution and changing every aspect of daily life unlike ever before.
Information and Communications Technology (ICT) is an umbrella term used to define any electronic or digital communication device or application used to obtain, exchange or disseminate information. ICT stresses the role of unified communications and the integration of telecommunications, which enable users to create, access, store, transmit, and manipulate information.
ICT consists of all forms of telecommunication, information technology, broadcast media, audio and video processing, transmission and network-based control and monitoring functions. ICT has rapidly become one of the basic building blocks of modern society and will become increasingly important as the Information Age matures.
Many industrialized nations now regard understanding ICT and mastering the basic skills and concepts of ICT is vital and now considered part of the core of education, alongside reading, writing and arithmetic. The importance of ICT to humanity lies upon a continuum of relevance ranging from minimal impact to vital requirement regarding an ICT user’s day to day activities. For some, ICT and the Internet are nothing more than tools of convenience for conducting their responsibilities. For others, their social, scholastic, business and/or financial affairs disclosed in cyberspace and through ICT are crucial to their self-esteem, self-worth, success and perceptual world.
ICT has changed the way humanity interacts, exchanges and accesses information. Smartphones, mobile devices and social media are the latest in a succession of advancements growing at a feverish pace. It is often hard to fathom that the Internet, used by three billion people globally, only celebrated its 20th birthday in 2011.
Although ICT benefits far outweigh detriments for society, humanity has been seduced by the notion that more technology translates into a better quality of life. The concept of being “connected” paradoxically makes humanity less connected to what is really happening globally. As ICT becomes increasingly widespread, the fewer citizens know their neighbors and the more they engage with people they are “connected” to in cyberspace and ICT. It seems that humanity is slowly separating from one another, isolating themselves with their technology and disconnecting from human contact on both literal and spiritual levels.
Prior to ICT, all methods of communication involved some form of identification and response recognition skills using at least one of the five senses. Although deception, crime and immoral acts were committed, they entailed far more creativity, design and planning than what is required using ICT and cyberspace. Even during the initial stages of human civilization, tribal communities would communicate with each other over long distances using the proverbial “smoke signals.”
Albeit primitive, as a form of communication, these communities could use their sense of sight to determine a general geographic location of the sender and, if close enough, could use their sense of smell to determine the type of wood being used to create the signals. Both methods were used to help them identify the sender and extrapolate if the sender was friend or foe.
In cyberspace, our physical senses are subdued as we exchange and/or verify information as valid in isolation from the source. The “veil of anonymity” afforded to anyone using ICT offers numerous benefits, but the detriments can far outweigh the assistances for the vulnerable or high-risk target. Although the recipient of information in cyberspace can use their senses of sight and hearing, it is still impossible to rely on that information to verify the identity of the sender or his/her intent behind the information. Without having access to the five senses or being able to accurately determine the identity, motivations or location of the sender, a human’s natural tools used in self-preservation and protection are significantly hampered.
Welcome to the Information Age!
The Information Age has presented humanity with the tools and ability to exchange and disseminate information at an accelerated speed. The downside of ICT is that humanity does not access, use or rely upon their five senses. From an evolutionary and instinctual standpoint, a human’s five senses serve to help them interact with their environment, procreate and survive. In nature, a human could not survive if they were stripped of all five senses. In addition to having five senses, all humanity has ingrained in their genetics the striving for self-preservation.
Having this dynamic of self-preservation is not exclusive to humans but is wired in all living organisms. The urge and inherent traits of self-preservation are universal. Without a living organism having these traits, their species would quickly become extinct.
Whether it is ICT and cyberspace still in its infancy, human ignorance, denial, technological ineptitude or the proverbial “veil of anonymity” afforded to all ICT users, it seems plausible that for many ICT users, their mechanisms used to activate their drives of self-preservation remains dormant when involved with ICT and cyberspace.
Information technology experts, sociologists and psychologists tend to describe ICT as beneficial tools for humanity. Based on this writer’s investigative findings leading to the creation of iPredator and iPredator Bridge, he defines this new dimension quite differently. Although the World Wide Web, Telecommunications, Digital Technology and Mobile Device Technology are highly beneficial tools and areas helpful to society, this writer recognizes tools have many different purposes. When chosen for nefarious reasons, ICT are tools that become weapons. iPredators primarily use ICT as weapons in their efforts to offend, dominate, harm or steal from others.
As ICT continues to expand at a feverish pace coupled with daily introductions of innovative technology, ever-increasing obstacles will challenge humanity. Already, ICT users have been confronted by the ever-increasing detriments of having incredible amounts of information, which can be obtained, exchanged and spread at incredible speed. Another challenge, which includes the dark side of humanity, is the usage of ICT and cyberspace to harm others inflicting psychological, physical and/or societal damage. The construct created by this writer that encapsulates these harmful typologies is as follows:
iPredator Bridge Definition
iPredator Bridge: iPredator Bridge is a theoretical tenet of iPredator representing the psychological, perceptual & behavioral trajectory of people who use Information and Communications Technology (ICT) to harm others motivated by self-righteousness, moral turpitude, religious/political/philosophical convictions and pro-social perceptual distortions. Not driven by criminal, malevolent or deviant endeavors, iPredator Bridge seeks to define why some people approach the nefarious and malevolent realm of iPredator, decide to proceed, and then continue along a trajectory where their cognitive, affective, behavioral and perceptual actions harm others or societies.
Similar to the iPredator, they are motivated by personal convictions, greed, power, control, narcissism or psychopathology. Different from the iPredator, they have yet to fully engage in criminal/deviant activities using ICT or use complex perceptual distortions to validate the harm they cause. iPredator Bridge investigates why some people draw near to this nefarious and malevolent realm and either proceed in their maladaptive trajectory or cease and desist.
Hidden in cyberspace, and through ICT, they contemplate the benefits and detriments, proceed, and then continue a path where their cognitive and perceptual processes are focused upon directly or indirectly harming others. For those who cross this proverbial bridge, they enter a world where their choices are increasingly governed by criminal, deviant, immoral and maladaptive processes.
Although it is assumed all humanity, has residing deep in their psyche, the potential & Dark Psychology for behaving in harmful and malevolent ways they rarely or never activate, ICT and cyberspace offers a direct connection and psychological route to the dark side. Just as ICT and cyberspace is incredibly pro-social and beneficial to humanity, these same technological advancements can lead humanity to diabolical and sinister endeavors.
The iPredator Bridge is a symbolic representation of the approach, route and initial crossing into the realm of the iPredator. In a rudimentary and abstract way, it is posited that cyberspace, ICT and all future technological advancements, related to information technology, is an extension of the mind and the instinctual drives of the collective brain to replicate itself outside a human organism. Related to this postulate are the theoretical tenets of Carl Jung (1875-1961) and his construct of the Collective Unconscious.
“The collective unconscious – so far as we can say anything about it at all – appears to consist of mythological motifs or primordial images, for which reason the myths of all nations are its real exponents. In fact, the whole of mythology could be taken as a sort of projection of the collective unconscious… We can therefore study the collective unconscious in two ways, either in mythology or in the analysis of the individual.” (Carl Jung – The Structure & Dynamics of the Psyche)
Given that humanity is at the beginning of the Information Age, the motivating factors that lead some people to cross over into engaging in asocial behaviors using ICT cannot be explained. The concept of iPredator and iPredator Bridge construct assumes that ICT has unknown effects upon the mind and influence some to engage in destructive and self-destructive patterns. The creation of ICT and cyberspace is equivalent to the philosophical and psychological societal awe that was created when an astronaut took his first step upon the moon. Just as Neil Armstrong (8/5/1930 – 8/25/2012) stepped into a new celestial territory, humanity is doing the same here on Earth. This unfamiliar territory is the abstract and artificial electronic universe known as cyberspace.
Within this new region, and presently without explanation, many people enter cyberspace and access ICT with their instinctual drive for self-preservation remaining dormant. Conversely, there are other people who, either quickly or gradually, conclude that ICT and cyberspace offer an environment that allows the pursuit of maladaptive and psychopathological goals undeterred by punishment. It is within this process that the ICT user or groups of ICT users transcend into the world of iPredator. Once an iPredator, the various typologies begin their search for those they deem as vulnerable, easily accosted and not likely to mobilize the required forces leading to their apprehension and punishment.
Most iPredators seek to hide their identities, whereas others do not for reasons often rooted in the belief that their identity being known by the victim benefits them by increasing their popularity or solidifying peer acceptance. For a small segment of cyberbullies who meet criteria for iPredator, they relish in the knowledge that others will know they are the aggressor and feel their aggressive endeavors using ICT makes them more attractive to their peers. This example of cyberbullies is amongst other iPredator typologies that choose to not hide or fabricate their identity.
This writer disagrees with those who view ICT and the realm of cyberspace as merely technological tools used by criminal, psychopathological, narcissistic, deviant and lascivious people. Although this writer is unable to clinically verify his assertions, given ICT and the Internet is new to human civilization, he strongly subscribes to the notion that ICT and cyberspace have developed into a realm leading to an entirely new breed of criminal, deviant, abuser and aggressor never experienced before in the history of human civilization.
Given this writer’s strong belief that there is neurochemical, neuropsychological, perceptual and dissociative based changes occurring in all humans who access and interact with ICT and cyberspace, the compilation of all these factors leads to both a new breed of assailant and victim. iPredator Bridge is the connection between the dark aspects of the human mind, ICT, cyberspace and activation of direct or indirect harm towards others. The victim or target of an iPredator may or may not have previously engaged the iPredator Bridge construct themselves, and for that matter, may not even know that their loved ones, peers, associates or new online contacts are posturing to become iPredators or actively engaging in iPredator attacks.
There is a plethora of contributing factors influencing people to become iPredators. There are also a multitude of factors that influence some people to approach and cross the iPredator Bridge. And unfortunately, there are a variety of constituents that influence some to be unwilling to institute the necessary practices and safety measures to reduce their probability of becoming a target or victim. The harsh reality is that the wonderful abstract universe of cyberspace and the ICT used to enter cyberspace does not come with directions or blueprints on how to prevent being attacked, disparaged or harmed by iPredators.
Based on this writer’s research and extensive investigation leading to the creation of the iPredator construct, he, his colleagues and many contributors have compiled a list of warning signs that may suggest the person being queried is approaching the iPredator Bridge, in transit or has fully crossed to the realm of iPredator.
The list to follow has not been validated by clinical research, a governing body or academic institution. It has been compiled and published to be a point of reference to educate and assist anyone who is concerned that they, their children, business or community are in the presence of an iPredator or someone in transit to becoming an iPredator.
iPredator Bridge Warning Signs Checklist (IBWSC)
Note: Responding “Yes, I Agree, True” to any of the statements does not confirm the person being queried is an iPredator or close to becoming one. Responding with an affirmative response should be noted and further investigation is recommended. The term “social networking site” applies to the multitude of social media sites available online. As of 2012-2013, Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, YouTube, Pinterst and Google + are the most popular for adults and MySpace, Foursquare, Tumblr, Xanga & Facebook for teens. Please be mindful that iPredators use many forums in cyberspace and numerous ICT tools to victimize their targets. The term “habitual” represents regular usage of ICT and the Internet.
As stated above, responding “Yes, I Agree, True” to any of the statements does not confirm the person is an iPredator or close to becoming one. However, affirmative responses to five or more of the statements are a strong indicator that the person being queried is either an iPredator, crossing the iPredator Bridge or suffering from some psychological and/or perceptual dysfunction. Definitions of iPredator and iPredator Bridge are illustrated at the base of this checklist. The acronym, ICT, is Information and Communications Technology and represents an umbrella term consisting of all forms of telecommunication, information technology, broadcast media, audio and video processing, transmission and network-based control and monitoring functions.
- The person is a habitual social networking site and/or ICT user and regularly interacts with a select group of online contacts that he/she has never met in person.
- The person is a habitual social networking site and/or ICT user and has developed private codes or lingo, which is regularly communicated to a select group of followers.
- The person is a habitual social networking site and/or ICT user and has been confirmed posting information that they quickly delete for no apparent reason.
- The person is a habitual social networking site and/or ICT user and has been confirmed posting information that would be considered cryptic or jumbled in content.
- The person is a habitual social networking site and/or ICT user and has been confirmed posting information about other people’s offline activities that are innocuous or trivial in nature.
- The person is a habitual social networking site and/or ICT user and has been confirmed to publicly post information that excludes someone from being invited to a social activity.
- The person has been confirmed to consistently post information about others in chat rooms, forums or message boards that are trivial and have no social purpose or cause.
- The person has been confirmed to maintain a blog or online public journal that has a central theme with minimal social or creative cause merit.
- The person is a habitual social networking site and/or ICT user and has been confirmed posting images or videos about other people’s offline activities and lifestyle.
- The person is a habitual social networking site and/or ICT user and has been confirmed posting messages, images or videos of other people’s loved ones not known to the person (i.e. husband wife, children, business, etc.).
- The person is a habitual social networking site and/or ICT user and has been confirmed to maintain his/her identity completely private yet seems to spend an inordinate amount of time online and/or using their ICT.
- The person maintains a public live journal, blog or website with a central theme not based in any social cause, intellectual or creative endeavor.
- The person is a habitual social networking site and/or ICT user and has been confirmed posting information about other people’s offline lives that are considered sensitive or private.
- The person is a habitual social networking site and/or ICT user and has been confirmed to impersonate others and engage with others or post information using their felonious identity.
- The person is a habitual social networking site and/or ICT user and has been suspected of spending more time online or using their ICT than with family, friends, loved ones or peers.
- The person is a habitual social networking site and/or ICT user and has been confirmed encouraging online and offline contacts to invest time or money in unsubstantiated ventures.
- The person is a habitual social networking site and/or ICT user and has been confirmed disseminating information that is felonious about their career, expertise, or academic/professional achievements.
- The person is a habitual social networking site and/or ICT user and has been confirmed having multiple usernames with different profile descriptions not explained by internet safety practices.
- The person had been observed turning off, shutting down or closing their ICT when a person unexpectedly approaches them.
- The person has been confirmed to frequent websites or social networking sites that have been kept secret, discouraged, or forbade by loved ones or family members.
- The person spends copious amounts of time online and/or using their ICT in private without rational reasons.
- The person spends considerable amounts of time online and/or using their ICT researching what others have posted about them or posting information about others.
- The person has been observed or confirmed exaggerating online about erroneous events and events not crucial to their livelihood.
- The person has been suspected or confirmed to be obsessed with religious, political, or philosophical societal movements that they express online or using ICT.
- The person has been suspected or confirmed to be obsessed with religious, political, or philosophical societal movements and spending time in chat rooms, reading and posting information in forums, message boards and comments themed with their cause.
- The person refuses or is hesitant to disclose or discuss their family, career or any offline information leading to their accurate identification.
- The person has been observed or confirmed using information technologies used to hide their identity or obtain another people’s identity that has not been legally purchased or downloaded.
- The person has been suspected or confirmed contacting others without any apparent reason or obvious connection.
- The person has been suspected or confirmed contacting others multiple times a day.
- The person has been observed or confirmed adding “buddies” or “friends” to their social networking site lists, despite not knowing them.
- The person has been suspected or confirmed encouraging others to move from public forums to private connections such as email, instant messaging, or texting.
- The person has been observed or confirmed asking others, online or using ICT, for personal information that has little merit for obtaining.
- The person has been observed or confirmed sending online gifts, badges, likes or +1’s to others they do not know at social networking sites.
- The person has been observed or confirmed expressing, multiple times, how much they like or despise a person, group, or organization online or using ICT.
- The person has been observed or confirmed changing their personal information to suit the situation or person they are communicating with.
- The person has been observed or confirmed knowing information about others, but unable or hesitant to disclose how they obtained the information.
- The person has been suspected or confirmed connecting with others online or using ICT across several different platforms (i.e. Twitter, Skype, Email, etc.), despite not knowing their ICT patterns.
- The person has been suspected or confirmed connecting with people’s family, friends, or colleagues, despite having no apparent connection to them.
- The person has been observed or confirmed sending or posting disparaging information about others online or using ICT.
- The person has been confirmed having more than 3 or more online relationships involving an adversarial and/or negative outcome.
- The person has been suspected or confirmed retaliating to negative information being spread about them online or using ICT.
- The person has been suspected or confirmed sending embarrassing and/or sensitive information to other people’s mobile devices or phones.
- The person has been suspected or confirmed engaging in “sexting” with others he/she does not know or much younger or much older than they are.
- The person has been suspected or confirmed engaging in sexual conversations with others they have met online or using ICT.
- The person has been suspected or confirmed intermittently spending money at online sex sites.
- The person has been suspected or confirmed regularly responding to contacts from online strangers.
- The person has been suspected or confirmed discussing violent, prejudicial or hate based topics online or using ICT with online contacts or strangers.
- The person has been suspected or confirmed regularly visiting and/or participating in anonymous video or instant messaging chat room sites.
- The person has been suspected or confirmed causing others to log out from chat rooms or instant messaging communicating feeling uncomfortable.
- The person has been observed or confirmed keeping up with news on mobile device security vulnerabilities, despite not having those types of mobile devices.
iPredator’s antisocial pursuits are fueled by their distorted perceptions of self- preservation. For many of these miscreants, they believe they must victimize others to thrive, sometimes to survive, feel socially accepted and often for a sense of accomplishment, right or vindication. Their motivations to hurt others are not restrained by guilt or remorse, because they perceive their actions towards a victim is deserved and the person should have expected it given their attitude, actions or ignorance. Perceiving their actions in this way, predators justify the purpose of their behaviors allowing them to harm others without feeling remorse.
Social science experts and educators have attempted to enlighten and warn the global community, but their impact to date pales in comparison to the wrath and the inevitable growth of the iPredator threat and the growing number of iPredator groups. This writer and his future proactive associates and organizations will attempt to motivate society before iPredators become a common fixture in the fast-growing Internet global community. Cyberspace represents a new dimension and a new territory for social exploration. Unfortunately, iPredators patiently wait in the shadows of this dimension expectantly.
As stated above and defined again here to reaffirm the importance of learning to identify others who may be approaching may be approaching the realm of iPredator. iPredator Bridge is a theoretical tenet of iPredator representing the exploration and study of people who use ICT to harm others motivated by greed, power, control, narcissism or psychopathology.
iPredator Bridge investigates why some people draw around this nefarious and malevolent realm hidden in cyberspace and through ICT, contemplate the benefits and detriments, decide to proceed, and then continue a trajectory where their cognitive, affective, behavioral and perceptual states are directly or indirectly harmful to others and society. For those who cross this proverbial bridge, they enter a world where their choices are increasingly governed by criminal, deviant, immoral and maladaptive processes.
Michael Nuccitelli, Psy.D.
Michael Nuccitelli, Psy.D. is a NYS licensed psychologist, cyberpsychology researcher and online safety educator. In 2009, Dr. Nuccitelli finalized his dark side of cyberspace concept called iPredator. Since 2010, he has advised those seeking information about cyberbullying, cyberstalking, cybercriminal minds, internet addiction and his Dark Psychology concept. By day Dr. Nuccitelli is a practicing psychologist, clinical supervisor and owner of MN Psychological Services, PLLC. After work and on the weekends, he volunteers helping online users who have been cyber-attacked. Dr. Nuccitelli’s is always available to interested parties and the media at no cost. This website and everything created by Dr. Nuccitelli is educational, free and public domain.