Let’s talk about a complex creature: internet trolls. Trolling is something that can be all fun & games if done light-hardheartedly in a private setting OR it can be an absolute nightmare if done in public for everyone to see. Let’s elaborate: A fun setting may be messing with your friends or family via text just for kicks. The nightmare happens when a troll attacks on the internet, such as a forum or article comments. Trolls are usually looking for public attention, hence why they troll online. Usually it’s someone you don’t even know, and in some cases it’s as bad as cyber-bullying.
Lifewire gives an awesome explanation: “Those who aren’t quite as familiar with the internet slang definition of “troll” or “trolling” might automatically think of the mythical creature from Scandinavian folklore. The mythological troll is known to be an ugly, dirty, angry creature that lives in dark places, like caves or underneath bridges, waiting to snatch up anything that passed by for a quick meal.
The internet troll is a modern version of the mythological version. They hide behind their computer screens, and actively go out of their way to cause trouble on the internet. Like the mythological troll, the internet troll is angry and disruptive in every possible way—often for no real reason at all.”
Now for a look at the darker side of trolling…most trolling takes place on social media (YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, etc), blogs and video games. The goal of trolling is for the troll to essentially be hurtful and rude to a person or brand in an attempt to get a rise out of them and initiate a public response. Let’s say a popular page you follow on Facebook posts a photo, a troll might comment saying that the photo is ugly or has been photo-shopped. Obviously, this is not only a rude thing to do, but it’s also uncalled for. Usually when the victim responds to a troll’s comment, the troll will continue to egg them on in a more aggressive way.
Tips for handling internet trolls…
The best way to deal with trolls is simply to ignore them, the only reason they are trolling in the first place is to get a reaction from you – don’t give them the attention they want. It seems hard to ignore someone being blatantly being mean and rude, but eventually they will stop.
Here’s how you can defend yourself:
- Block them from commenting on your accounts – BUT some trolls go through the trouble of creating a whole new account every time they get blocked to continue harassing you
- Delete their comments or report it as spam
If trolling is happening on message boards, there is a technique called Hellbanning. This is when the troll is banned but the troll has no idea. What does this mean? The troll will still see posts, be able to comment and talk as much as they want, but the rest of the community will not see any of the comments made by the troll. Isn’t that awesome?!
Another way to respond to internet trolls is simply to have some fun with it. Witty responses usually shut the troll up because they aren’t getting a rise out of you and instead you have turned it into a funny interaction. Twitter has MANY examples of companies firing shots at each other and having fun. A great example of that is Wendy’s Twitter – They are always trolling their followers and other companies, but in a fun, harmless way that people enjoy. The famous chef Gordon Ramsay does the same thing when people tweet him pictures of their food.
Trolling on the internet isn’t anything new and it definitely isn’t going to stop anytime soon. The best way you can prepare yourself as an individual and company is to understand what trolling is so that you can recognize when you are getting trolled and then you know how to correctly respond. The best option is to just ignore it and the trolling will usually eventually stop. If you want you can block them but that can sometimes make the troll angrier and attack harder. Or if you’re confident & creative like Wendy’s, just have some fun with it!