These days, when we say troll we are mostly referring to those key board warriors who seemingly have a lot of spare time which they choose to dedicate to leaving needlessly inflammatory comments on other people's things on the internet.
There is a difference between a troll and someone who disagrees with you
Firstly, I would like to point out that if someone disagrees with you, that doesn't make them a troll. I've been lucky in that so far, I haven't encountered any trolls on my blog, but I have had people disagree with me. I'm fine with that, in fact I think it can keep things interesting, life would be pretty dull if we all thought the same things.
For a silly example, say you post a review of a movie you just watched. You loved it and its now in your all time top ten movies. You write a review raving about how great it was, how it changed your life etc. You get a comment saying "I wasn't keen on the movie, because of XYZ". That's someone disagreeing. You get a comment saying "You're an idiot, the movie was rubbish, you're rubbish". that's probably a troll.
I say a silly example because generally trolls like to pounce on pieces where you give an opinion about something that people feel strongly about like breast vs bottle for example. After all, there's no point in being a troll if you still don't get noticed right!
Pity the trolls
I know a lot of bloggers seem to get quite upset about trolls. Try to turn it around and think of it as a compliment: trolls crave attention, therefore they obviously think your post is going to get a lot of views!
Try to also remember that these trolls deserve our pity rather than our hatred:
Imagine living a life so empty you have literally nothing better to do than scour the internet for hours at a time looking for something you can criticise.
Imagine being uncreative to the point where you can't think of a way to fill an hour or two, without resorting to this. Seriously, get a Netflix account or something!
Imagine being so bitter and lonely that you fill your time trying to bring others down to your level.
When I think of a troll, they always fall into one of two categories:
1. The social rejectUsually a teenager, although not always, this person is shunned by society and exacts the ultimate revenge by leaving unoriginal insults on other people's websites in the hope it will make them popular.
2. The bitter old-timerThis person is a 50 something virgin that is jealous of anyone that has the tiniest spark of life in them, rejected by the opposite (or same) sex, they somehow feel that spreading their empty messages will make them seem intelligent.
Disclaimer: For anyone who doesn't understand sarcasm I am in no way suggesting everyone who falls into the above categories is a troll or a sad case!
Let's take a moment to feel sorry for these pathetic creatures. Maybe someone should set up a support group or something!
Types of trolls
1. The Obvious Troll
Social media, particularly Facebook is their hunting ground. These trolls generally have no profile picture and no friends. They stand out like a sore thumb. They are often someone known to the prey and are use a fake account to say the things they daren't say under their own name.
2. The I-Just-Want-To-Argue Troll
These trolls hang out anywhere they suspect there will be an opinion - blogs, social media, news sites etc. They will often comment on multiple posts, sometimes on different sides. They have no real opinion, they just like to argue. The subject matter is of little relevance and these are the trolls that often resort to personal insults.
3. The Stealth Troll
This troll is my own personal favourite type of troll, at least they put a little imagination into their trolling. Their MO could be either of the above, but they put in a little work. They make a seemingly innocent comment with a reasonable disagreement. Momentarily, you think they might engage in intelligent debate. You respond and BANG, the troll in them comes out. These guys take their trolling very seriously, and actively search out places that they expect a response.
A brief message to trolls
Find something useful to do with your trolling time - volunteer for a charity, write a novel or your own blog, do a bit of gardening or baking. Literally anything will be more fulfilling than this!
If you must insist on this behaviour, at least make your comments original or funny. I appreciate this is difficult - if you were either original or funny you wouldn't have to resort to trolling to get attention. At least steer away from the clichés:
"You spelt something wrong/used a comma wrong/used the wrong there" Ouch I'm hurt, and now bow down to your obvious superiority.
"You're stupid" Thanks for that, I didn't know!
"You are a terrible writer" I didn't realise you were a top level literature critic. Oh that's right, you're not!
Remember that Mean Girls quote?
"Calling someone fat doesn't make you skinnier; calling someone stupid doesn't make you smarter" I wonder if the writer had been trolled the day they wrote that part, as it is essentially good advice to trolls!
|Image courtesy of Google Images|
So trolls, go back under your bridge where you belong (maybe leave the goats alone though, that sounds like a jail sentence waiting to happen!)
The big debate: To feed or not to feed!
It is, I think, inevitable that at some point every blogger will be trolled. When it happens, do you delete the comment? Ignore it? Or play with the troll?
On one hand, feeding trolls is kind of playing into their hands - they crave the validation of a response. Plus it's kind of hard to win an argument with a troll as they are happy to contradict themselves and jump sides at the drop of a hat, as they often don't really care about the debate or the topic, they merely want to disagree with everything you say.
On the other hand, it can actually work in your favour. it can be quite entertaining watching an online troll get taken down, and you may find people start sharing your post. Even if it is for the comments rather than the post, it's still increased visibility and the chance that some people who see the thread may enjoy your blog and come back.
If you do choose to respond, don't resort to name calling and end up down to their level. Keep your cool! Although it may feel like a personal attack, trolls aren't overly selective and they aren't personally attacking you. This is their underwhelming way of raging against the machine!
Have you been trolled? How did you deal with it? Have you ever trolled someone? If so, why (that's a genuine question, I would love to know what trolls actually get out of it!)?