The Truth About Online Trolls And How to Deal With Them

8 simple ways in which we can understand internet trolling and counter it's effects.

Simrit Tiwana
 

We live in an age in which everybody is connected to each other through the internet, and social media is giving complete strangers access to our lives in so many ways. Be it Faceook, Instagram, or Twitter, all you have to do is scroll through the comment's section and sooner or later you will see comments made by internet trolls. 

Who exactly is a troll?

According to Wikipedia, a troll is a person who starts quarrels or upsets people on the internet. Their purpose is to distract and sow discord by posting inflammatory and digressive, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community, with the intent of provoking readers into displaying emotional responses and normalising tangential discussion, whether for the troll's amusement or a specific gain. While they most often target celebrities and public figures, they can also randomly latch onto any picture or comment that they do not agree with. If you have a public profile, you are more accessible to people and are an easier target. But sometimes, they may be members of an online group, or even someone from your list of friends or followers. According to Ragen Chastain, a motivational speaker and writer who has researched this topic, they usually fall into one of three categories.

The Thinker :These are few and far between, but they are absolutely critical to the mechanism of organized online abuse. They choose the targets, twist the facts, and fabricate the stories. They also provide, for those who require it, the justification (however questionable) for what they are trying to say.

The Zombie Army :They aren’t the best and brightest, but they have wifi, plenty of free time, and a desire to hate and hurt someone. They will go where they are pointed and repeat what they are told by the Thinkers. If you find yourself astonished that so many people believe the same outrageous lie about you, you have these trolls to thank.

The Zealot :This person crosses the line from trolling to obsession. They might create an entire website devoted to hating you, show up at your events, Facebook message your mom, or even send a false performance complaint to your boss. 

How to deal with online trolling

If you're in the online world, you've dealt with a troll. If you haven't, you will. As annoying trolls can be, we have eight go-to tips on how to handle the haters without letting it disturb your peace of mind.

1. Establish a Policy: This is especially important when you are operating a public domain. When dealing with trolls the first step is to establish a policy for user comments. These policies should clearly detail what kind of comments are allowed and be outlined on your website and social media accounts.

2. Ignore Them: Trolls want attention. They want to get you angry, frustrated, or uncomfortable. No matter how difficult it might be, simply ignoring a troll could your best tactic because when they don’t get a response, they’ll most likely go away.

3. Laugh it off: Humour is one of the best ways to handle trolls. When you make light of a troll’s comment, you simultaneously acknowledge and defuse the situation. Just be careful, in case you are dealing with a sensitive topic, however, as you don't want to come across insensitive. 

4. Don’t Provide a Platform: If you happen to host your own website, you don’t have to approve offensive comments. You can also delete these comments and unfriend or ban them. This also sets an example for others to behave, as trolls usually follow one another in their attacks.

5. Listen: Listen to what is being said. Sometimes people just want to be heard. Hear them, try to help or respond in a positive manner and you could end up diffusing a situation before things get out of hand.

6. Don't take it personally: Even though it feels like an attack, trolling is mostly more about how unhappy or frustrated the trolls themselves usually are.

7. Fight Back With Facts: If you become the target of rumours or misinformation being spread by trolls, you may want to fight back with facts.

8. Acknowledge and Correct Mistakes: If a troll points out a mistake you have made, then you should look into it, make the proper corrections, and admit that you were wrong.