This semi-ranty post covers a subject many of us are familiar with and one I have never previously given an inch of cyberspace to. This is because I have learned that when someone wants your attention and is going out of their way to get it, by being as loud and obnoxious as possible, sometimes the best thing you can do is ignore them. Not today, though, because today I am going to have my say and guess what? This is my little space, so you ain't trolling here. I won't give unconstructive negativity any space on my blog, not even a comment. If you don't like what you read, just troll on by, since that is the polite thing to do. as if we were real people and this was real life. This is how to deal with trolls and how not to be one, unless it's one with pink hair.
Once upon a time, in the good old days, social media was a place where you could air your greivances, talk about your day, or even photograph your lunch, should you feel the urge. Why not let the world know that today you really nailed a cheese baguette?! It was a happy place, a place of joy and camaraderie, and, aside from the occasional snide comment from a colleague or old school friend, all was well with the world. Then the trolls came. In small numbers to begin with. Fearless, with their keyboard shields and laughter emojis to hide their true purpose. Slowly they spread their seeds of hate and spiteful comments as far as they could, leaving hurt and self-doubt in their wake. Twitter provided the best breeding ground, with easy access to celebrities and other beacons to attach their bile-filled tweets to, for maximum effect, because that's what it's all about, isn't it? Getting some attention. When I was studying Child Psychology, I remember the first time I heard the expression, 'any attention is good attention.' Even when refering to children, it sounds a bit bonkers. The idea is, that driving your parents, or teacher, mad until you get told off, is better than being ignored. It does, however, become pretty evident when it comes to trolls, who will try to hurt, insult and offend, just so that, for a tiny moment, somebody is looking at them. Even if they are looking at them, thinking; 'what a vile, contemptious, sub-human', they are still getting some attention, for a split second.
These days, if you put your nose over the parapet of social media, you run the risk of being trolled, it's unavoidable. Even Luke has been trolled, since he first started appearing on our Youtube channel, aged 9. Yes, 9. People seek out and troll children, for fun. I get around it, by moderating our comments, so he doesn't see them, but for heaven's sake, really?! So that's all pretty twisted and wrong, but I have come to the conclusion that it is really no different to any other form of bullying and there are a few things you can do, if you find yourself on the receiving end of unwanted attention from the silly side of social media.
- DON'T FEED THE TROLLS!! It sounds obvious, but it's surprising how easy it is to get sucked in to replying to the comments, especially when they get really personal and are usually misguided and wrong. This is probably deliberate to tempt you to correct the errors, so don't fall for it. Dignified silence is always best, not least because if someone is trying to get a reaction, the most fun is not to give them one! Which leads to...
- Don't read the comments! This only really applies to a situation where something has been shared about you in a negative way, which hopefully won't happen, but if it does, there is no law that says you have to read something, just because it is (loosely) about you. If you can muster the will power, just don't. Leave them there, unread, safe in the knowledge that this is exactly the opposite of what they want!
- Know your enemy! You will often find that, particularly when you get mentioned in a trashy newspaper, (and trust me, it can happen to anyone, ask me how I know!) the scuzziest comments will often be repeated on EVERY other article. It's true, have a look! Thus proving that these comments are not directed at you, and are not personal in any way, because this person doesn't know you, they are most likely just saying words to start a row, to create some entertainment for a little while. Which leads me to my next point...
- It's not personal! Keep in mind, anyone who comments about you on social media, be it 'friend' or stranger, is not going to know all your circumstances, they may even know nothing at all about your circumstances, but that won't stop them throwing down their soapbox and criticising in a faux-authoritative tone. So remember they are always the voice of ignorance when it comes to your life and how you live it, which makes them entirely irrelevant.
So, that's how I deal with trolls, and I hope it helps to empower someone who has been a victim, even a little bit. There is another side to the trolling seesaw, though. How are your social media manners? A learned and accomplished scholar (ok, it was Thumper, from Bambi) once said; 'If you can't say sumthin' nice, don't say nuthin' at all!' When it comes to social media, or any medium where you are obscured by a computer screen, these are words to live by. It's very easy to get carried away when you can't see the reaction of the person you are addressing, but it's not so hard to ask yourself; would I say this to their face? Would I make that remark in actual life? If the answer is no, what's the point in saying it at all? You are still the same person when you type, as when you speak, and people will still judge you the same, so if something about someone else's life bothers you and you feel the need to criticise or correct and it's not to be helpful, do everyone a favour and troll on by. Before you comment, THINK. Don't be the troll!