As a young child, I had a few collections including Pogs, Beanie Babies, stickers and Troll Dolls. Until recently I thought a troll was either a cute little toy with a gem for a bellybutton and colourful hair that defies gravity or a grumpy monster that lives under a bridge. Boy, was I wrong. I’ve always heard about “Internet trolls” but I haven’t had much experience dealing with them first hand until a few years ago.
According to an American study of 1,125 adults conducted by YouGov, “28 percent of Americans admitted (to) malicious online activity directed at somebody they didn’t know.” That’s around a quarter of the people interviewed and that’s a very large number. Yikes!
The same survey also revealed that “(23 percent) admit to having maliciously argued over an opinion with a stranger, while 23 percent have maliciously argued over facts and 12 percent admit to making deliberately controversial statements.”
The experience of dealing with an Internet troll peaked my curiosity into why they exist, who they are, why are they so bloody mean and what to do when I came across one! So, I did a bit of research and I found out some very useful information on how to deal with them.
There are a few things you can do when coming head to head with a troll:
1. Figure out if you are indeed dealing with an Internet troll. Sometimes, someone might be taking their bad day out on you. If you think they are a troll, there is no need to engage. I know that you feel rage building up inside of you but it’s okay. Take a deep breath. If you think they are not a troll, take the conversation offline. Send them a direct message and then tweet them or comment under their comment that you sent them a DM. Sometimes, they just need you to listen.
2. Kill their comment(s) with kindness. Perhaps they need clarification on their facts or just a virtual hug? Your niceness may throw them off guard and they may leave you alone. You shouldn’t engage in a long conversation in the comments section. I suggest that you only respond once with a really nice and friendly comment.
3. Keep a list of the trolls. Start a spreadsheet and include their name, a link to their profile and a list of the troll-esque comments they make. This might help you learn more about them and keep track of who is saying what on your social profiles. Don’t spend too much time on this, but this will be a good reference for you when coming across negative comments on social media and can help you decipher trolls from non-trolls.
4. Report or/and block the user. If their trolling crosses over to be cyber-bullying you can choose to have a zero-tolerance for that behaviour. If possible, block them and if there is a controller to report them to, make sure to do that. It’s up to you to decide if you are being cyber-bullied or abused. Each social media network is different and you can usually find out how to report abuse in the Help section.
Remember, an asshole is an asshole and they don’t deserve your energy.
Anyone can be a troll and trust me, they are not fun to deal with. Sometimes, people just don’t like a certain subject, brand or belief and it can seem impossible to change their mind. Usually, a troll is a coward behind a computer screen who would never say what they say online to your face.
Have you had any experience dealing with Internet trolls? How did you handle it? Share your experiences in the comment section below.