If you’ve ever spent any time online or crossing an old creepy bridge, chances are you’ve come across a troll. They are bitter, self-righteous creatures that lurk in the dark. They wear uncomfortable underwear that’s seemingly too tight all the while wielding a keyboard to spew vitriol, inflict damage and infuriate writers and commenters alike. There’s no real way to stop a troll because you can’t appease them. However, there are ways to deal with them when you happen to cross paths with one.
Before dealing with a troll attack, it’s important to look at what motivates and drives their behavior. They need an audience. Rarely do they survive in isolation. With the protection (and sometimes anonymity) of the medium, they are able to spew on command. They take to social networks, blog sites, discussion forums and the like to find their latest victim. In their regular lives, they may seem like nice people, but in the shadows of the internet, they bare their ugly side. Just remember that they’re bullheaded, grumpy and intent on being right (or pushing their narrow worldview) which end conversations and, generally, shame people.
When encountering a troll, here’s a few tips to remember:
Don’t feed the trolls. They feed off of anger and quickly you can find yourself playing into their game. That’s their whole point for being there in the first place… to elicit a reaction and/or a response usually to confirm to themselves their own smug superiority or self-righteousness. Remember that a troll attack is typically an unwinnable argument with an unreasonable (and potentially unstable) person. You may want to respond angrily but don’t fight vitriol with vitriol. Much like the social philosopher, T. Swift, often says, “hater’s gonna hate…” In the same way, a troll’s gonna troll.
Don’t try to reason with them because reason isn’t their point for being there in the first place. Remember that it’s all about them and not actually about you. You just happen to be their next victim who wandered into their crosshairs. The arguments may seem reasonable or the attack may feel personal, but it’s all about their sad lives and their need to feel important.
Don’t try to get in the ‘last word’ because it’s not worth it. This will only lengthen the situation and you have better things to do with your time. This prolonged engagement with the troll is much like getting a root canal. This isn’t an experience you want to extend. So learn to laugh and move on. Besides, if you really need catharsis with your troll problem, head over to Netflix and watch Troll Hunter or even Troll 2. Either of these would be a better use of your time and emotional energy.
When it comes to trolls, you can’t prevent when or how the attack may come, but you can control whether or not you become their next victim. Trolls are much like middle school bullies; small, sad people looking to demean and humiliate others in order to make themselves feel better. Whatever the particular reason of the troll for engaging you, don’t allow yourself to hide from the world or censor your voice. Either of these would be a shame because the world needs more of you and fewer trolls. Go live, stop caring about the trolls and get on with your life. Walk carefully, and you may just survive their next attack.