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Identifying and Dealing With Trolls

Social media has become such a staple in everyday life for everyone, from the 13-year-old “just-now-old-enough-for-Facebook” teenager to the 92-year-old grandmother wanting to stay in touch with her long-distance grandchildren. But it’s also become an avenue of entertainment and discourse for the apathetic, for the hostile, for the belligerent and for the useless. Wikipedia defines a troll as “a person who sows discord on the Internet by starting arguments or upsetting people, by posting inflammatory,[1] extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community (such as a newsgroup, forum, chat room, or blog) with the deliberate intent of provoking readers into an emotional response[2] or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion.”

If I referred to someone as a troll on the Internet, you may picture an overweight dude in his blacked out room, getting high on Monster Energy drinks while awaiting potential kidney failure, with the only ray of light being a literal one coming from his custom-built desktop computer monitor illuminating his evil eyes, while he plots away at destroying the credibility of the innocent through provocative and antagonistic engagement with other online users in forums, comments sections, and social media platforms under the moniker Flying Panda.

But, little do you know that the nefarious “Internet troll” can take many forms. It can be the bored soccer mother of 4 who has left 137 negative Yelp reviews due to her disillusioned thoughts on “customer service.”
It can be the holier-than-thou entrepreneur, whose counterproductive nature and chip on his shoulder drives him to spew negativity about family, friends, colleagues and acquaintances.

It can even be your co-worker who unleashes a mass email with the 7-years-too-late Rick Astley music video “Never Gonna Give You Up” with the subject line You Have Been Rick-Rolled hahahahahahahaahahahahaha.

Still having trouble identifying whether someone is a troll or not? Here are some unique qualities that most Internet trolls possess:

  • They take a ridiculous position on a contentious issue.
  • They make arguments riddled with fallacies and claims of moral high ground.
  • They have more than 10 Reddit accounts created and at their fingertips.
  • They use blatantly obvious hashtags and use infuriating catchphrases.
  • They don’t follow message board rules.
  • They insult you and your character.
  • They love to tirelessly hammer at an issue, even after it’s been beaten to death.
  • They put words in your mouth.
  • They post a quote about how stupid it is to quote themselves and then they attribute to themselves.
  • They question the legitimacy of everything around them.

Either way, as a user of the Internet, you may have dealt with a troll in your lifetime. But, how do you actually deal with a troll. Do you respond back to them? Do you report them? Do you blow up their spot? This is why I’ve created Erica’s 5 Ways of Dealing with Internet Trolls. These guidelines are designed to help you deal with these necessary evils while still retaining your humanity and fortitude.

      1. DO NOT FEED THE TROLL. Oh, how tempting it is to try and destroy the troll via a battle of wits, but you have to remember the trolls DON’T PLAY BY THE RULES. Regardless if you’re actually positioning yourself to winning the argument, they will find a wrench to throw in the mix and sacrifice their logic, reason, and reputation to destroy you.
      2. Starve the Troll. This plays off of number one, but it’s just as relevant. If they’re posting about you constantly, it may be best to go radio silent. Silence is like kryptonite to a troll, so make sure to employ silence the minute you are able to identify these nasty creatures.
      3. Use Sarcastic Humor. Disarming a troll is a challenge, but if you can’t beat them, join them (but don’t actually join them because the world does NOT need anymore trolls). This Tesco Mobile response is everything.

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      1. Shake It Off. In the words of the modern visionary philosopher Taylor Swift “Haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate.” So, what do you do? “You’re just gonna shake, shake, shake, shake, shake it off. Shake it off.” Whether you are a T. Swizzle fan or not, it’s most definitely prudent advice.
      2. Follow this Rule: If They Don’t Abort, Report. I had to go to a rhyming website to come up with that one, but it was well worth it, don’t you think? Seriously, if they won’t leave you alone, and they keep blowing up your spot, report them. In the world of the Internet, snitches don’t get stitches.

We all deal with trolls, just so you know you’re not alone. BUT, if you are finishing this blog, and realize your ARE the troll, seek contrition by liking a bunch of YouTube videos, praising people’s intelligence on Twitter, and say 10 nice things to your mom on Facebook.

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