Don’t Feed The Trolls
In Internet slang, a troll is someone who posts inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community, such as an online discussion forum, chat room, or blog, with the primary intent of provoking readers into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion. Mass media uses troll to describe “a person who defaces Internet tribute sites with the aim of causing grief to families. – Wikipedia
My husband posted a blog about his goals for 2011; what has been accomplished and what is left to do, along with the frightening fact that this year is already three-fourths gone and I know I’m not quite ready for that just yet. For some reason, his blog received this response:
I found your page while searching the web for something else, figured I would read around a bit. Not sure what message you are trying to portray. It comes across like the musings of an emotionally immature person who is desperately trying to convince herself that things are better than what they seem. It also seems as though you discuss things that you have no authority to discuss, one being how to raise a child and I assume by the pregnant or not remarks that you do not have a child you have been raising. Not to come across as a rude little pig but I promise you can NOT preach to anyone about the correct way to raise a child simply off of your experiences of being a child who was raised in what you deem an improper way. You come across very self-righteous and it’s a shame because deep down you may be a very nice person. And while I am certain this comment will either be deleted or be flamed by your peers, I only offer it as a bit of constructive criticism.
I for one am a little confused as to why my husband is a woman who’s wondering whether or not she/he’s pregnant and also confused that my husband, who has been by my side raising Dominick, has no clue on how to raise a child because he doesn’t have one. It’s as if this comment fell out of the sky and did a belly flop on his blog purely by luck of the draw. It’s nonsense and has nothing whatsoever to do with the blog itself or the author. Chances are, the person who posted this simply did a copy/paste off of something else entirely or was flaming this response on a wide variety of blogs without concern of whether or not it would be remotely relevant. I also imagine that the poster ensured to check back to see if a response was earned to the garbage they posted; and yes, my husband did reply with a scathing response.
Today I received a comment, which has since been deleted, that stated “YOU HAVE STOLEN THIS ARTICLE” from a poster using a string of cuss words as an email address. These I don’t mind, as WordPress is kind enough to sort out spam and generally keep my page free of trolls. I do find myself exposed to them quite often though, usually on CNN.com’s articles. There will be the few intelligent comments, the obligatory FIRST!!! comment at or near the top, and then you’ll get the posters who spew garbage from their keyboards in order to enrage the author, comment posters, and anyone who reads through the comments. These people are chronic page refreshers and will respond lightning quick if you dare say anything to them or contrary to what they posted. On personal pages, many times an angry ex-friend will anonymously post inflammatory garbage to attempt to enrage their former pal, checking back frequently in the hopes of causing damage. In all cases, it just seems to be the pathetic attempt of weak-minded individuals to get a bit of attention from wherever they are able.
I do admit to a bit of weakness in responding to a little girl a couple of months ago with a ridiculous name, as I suspect she was calling me a fart-sniffer at the instruction of a silly ex-female friend with a boy’s name and I found a great deal of humor in the whole thing. But it was wrong; all I succeeded in doing is feeding the troll; I gave her the attention she wanted and the satisfaction of knowing I wasted a few minutes of my day responding to her adolescent behavior.
How do you deal with a troll? On my personal site and social networks, it’s easy to delete comments that are trolling attempts and not simply criticism from a legit individual and it’s also generally easy to ignore. The only effective way to deal with them is to pretend they don’t exist. Chances are their comments will make you mad. That’s their goal! They want to enrage you and cause you and anyone else who is paying attention to fly off the handle and respond in bulk to their inflammatory remarks. It makes them feel special, just like the little kid who throws a tantrum in the middle of Target in order to get the attention of Mommy and Daddy and all the unfortunate patrons within shouting distance. Some of these trolls have enough intelligence to use proper English and impressively large words, but don’t be fooled into thinking that makes them smart.
As hard as it may be sometimes, DO NOT RESPOND to anything they say, either directly or passively in the comments below theirs. Do not be fazed by anything they say; understand that the sole purpose for it being in front of you is to engage you in a pointless debate about unimportant trash. Understand that you are not showing weakness by deleting a troll’s comment off your page, you’re showing respect for yourself and for others who enjoy your site. When babies play peek-a-boo, they assume that when they cover their eyes, the entire world in front of them ceases to be. Obviously nonsense in the adult world, but quite surprisingly, if you cover your eyes when a troll rears its ugly head, it mysteriously ceases to be….
I believe that most trolls are sad people, living their lonely lives vicariously through those they see as strong and successful. Remember that trolls are cowards; they’ll usually post just enough to get an argument going, then sit back and count the responses (Yes, that’s what they do!) – Flayme