How To: Deal With Online Trolls

“Beyoncé isn’t Beyoncé because she reads comments on the Internet. Beyoncé is in Ibiza, wearing a stomach necklace, walking hand in hand with her hot boyfriend. She’s going on the yacht & having a mimosa. She’s not reading shitty comments about herself on the Internet, & we shouldn’t either. I just think, Would Beyoncé be reading this? No, she would just delete it or somebody would delete it for her. What I really need to do is close the computer & then talk back to that voice & say, Fuck you. I don’t give a shit what you think. I’m Beyoncé. I’m going to Ibiza with Jay-Z now, fuck off. Being criticized is part of the job, but seeking it out isn’t. That’s our piece to let go.” (Kathleen Hanna)

Tim Ferris posted this Steve Jobs quote on facebook recently and it got me thinking about online trolls…especially in light of the Stan Collymore fiasco.

“By the way, what have you done that’s so great? Do you create anything, or just criticize other’s work and belittle their motivations?”- Steve Jobs

image via pinterest

If you’ve ever been on the end of abusive internet comments – then you know it’s not nice. I’ve been called “pointless” for writing a simple piece on first dates, right through to being called a “fucking bitch” on twitter because I shared my opinion on a news story (and let’s not forget the famous “baphead” for daring to go on the radio). It seems trolls don’t just go after celebrities, they’ll go after anyone so long as they get their cheap kicks.

So what is a troll? If you’re thinking those weird little toys {pictured above} you used to play with back in the 80/90s then think again. These are bigger, nastier and uglier.”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. The noun troll may refer to the provocative message itself, as in: “That was an excellent troll you posted.” – Wikipedia

Put basically, they’re a collective of people who think that a cheap laptop and a broadband connection gives them the right to be abusive to others. They forget {or more to the point – don’t care} that the person reading the bile they’ve spewed is a human being.  They’re nothing short of playground bullies who have no boundaries because they’re hiding behind their computer screens and often see no consequences.But that doesn’t mean you have to put up with it. Here are a few things you can do…

Ignore them. The most simple of advice and often a lot easier said than done. It’s taken me ages to just ignore these people and not react. I’ve come to the conclusion that if they don’t like what I’ve posted then more fool them for wasting five minutes of their life leaving a comment. Like any bully they thrive on attention. Don’t give it to them and they can’t do a thing.The Internet is written in ink…

It’s so hard not to retaliate and throw some pretty severe four letter words back out there at these monsters but STOP and think before you press that send button. To steal a line from the film The Social Network – the internet is written in ink. EVERYTHING is searchable, once you’ve clicked send, things remain out there and you’ve very little control over it once it’s out. Don’t ruin your future chances by responding in a negative and unprofessional way. You may not think it matters now but you don’t want people to google your name and see a string of inappropriate messages {and by then out of context} pop up.

On Twitter? Use your block button. If someone has upset you on twitter then just click the block button. It’s what it’s there for. Certainly don’t RT the comment, by retweeting you’re just giving the troll the satisfaction of seeing it bothered you.

On your blog? Would you let someone come in to your home and abuse you? No? Well, if someone posts something vile on your blog {YOUR virtual home} then just delete the comment. If you use wordpress then you can block these critters from ever commenting again. Don’t let it put you off blogging either – like I said earlier, if they don’t like your blog then they can quit reading it.

Don’t assume everyone is a troll…It’s a weird term really – troll. What I may consider a troll someone else may just think is an old fashioned arsehole. If you’ve been on twitter and facebook for any length of time you can usually see the difference between asshat and a troll so judge with caution.

Don’t let it get you down. Again, easier said than done. I remember when I had my first email of hate, I’d just had an article published and the reader clearly didn’t agree with my opinions – which is totally cool but they chose to verbally express themselves in a way which was less than kind. They’d gone to a whole heap of effort to trace my email address and craft a mammoth hate session so that it arrived in my inbox to read the very next morning. Did it bother me? HELL YES. I was so upset by it that I thought I’d made a huge mistake and should just skulk back off to my PR job.  You get used to a certain level of rejection when you’re freelancing but when someone deliberately sets out be vile it’s pretty upsetting. But the more time you waste on them and let them bring you down the less time you have to achieve things and get stuff done

.If it gets too much or you feel threatened then there are things you can do…

Check out Darlingtons blog post on trolls. He mentions the actions that can be taken if you’re feeling harrassed or threatened such as criminal and civil proceedings.

AND FINALLY…I have to share this piece that I read on Gala Darling’s blog. Whilst not specifically about trolling it does make you think that what people say about you really shouldn’t stop you from going out there and doing what you want.

*originally posted August 2012  

Author: Rachael

I'm a journalist and creative consultant. I write about how busy women (just like you) can live, work and eat - better.

6 thoughts on “How To: Deal With Online Trolls”

  1. Thank you for this article – which actually made me laugh! I’ve had my fair share of trolls and it’s SO tempting to throw something right back at them. I’ll never understand their small-minded mentality. I’m just grateful I am able to walk away – they can’t.

  2. I have a psychopathic Internet ‘terrorist,’ / ‘troll,’ – alias, “Keali’i” Blaisdell, – unemployed, – cocaine addicted, – fugitive from justice, (dishonorably discharged from the Seattle, Washington, & the Portland, Oregon, Police Departments for corruption, extortion, and substance abuse), that pretends to be related to Hawai’ian aristocracy, that currently, ‘trolls’ the Internet on a computer stolen from a developer, and colleague on Mau’i, that randomly posts on any unedited site unfounded defamation, harassment, and threats, etc., – P S Y C H O P A T H I C A L L Y.

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