How do we identify them? How do we spot them in action? How do we avoid the pitfalls, and how do we circumnavigate around these feral beings? Are you one? Chances are, we’ve all made a “one off” kind of vague post, or commented on a thread, knowing that we’re likely going to receive a few counter-perspectives. That’s not what this is about, but rather those who make it their life’s duty it seems to draw attention, bully, and cause chaos wherever they are online. Chances are, they are very insecure people in real life, and if any of the situations they purposely go looking for were to happen in real life, they would run screaming for their mama’s apron strings.
I will say that this initially started out as a tiny little comment from another article, and has now blossomed into this epic novella. As it’s important to cover the topic properly, I don’t see any issue in making it longer than usual, though I might have to break it into sub-part articles if I add more to this.
There are four types of internet trolls we’re going to look at specifically. One is fairly easy to deal with, but the other three need to be handled in a certain way, or else you will become prey for them. Like Mad-Eye Moody said, “Constant vigilance!”
We as humans have many choices in how we relate to one another; we can choose to be kind, we can choose to educate, we can choose to create a sense of community, share common interests, jokes and crafts and music and fandoms and amazing hopes and dreams and fun moments of goodness; or we can act like we have an agenda and drag others into silly petty dramas that arise from boredom, insecurity, and willful ignorance, cruelty, and mean-spirited maliciousness. When someone chooses wording that they knowingly intentionally state to create such an incident, those kinds of drama llama bully-baiters and martyrs-in-training are best to be ignored.
There is one simple rule to follow in dealing with trolls. That is:
Don’t feed the trolls.
I’m going to say it louder, for those in the back: DO NOT FEED THE TROLLS.
Any of them. Even the seemingly innocent one who cracks wise for a few cheap laughs at someone’s expense. It might seem lighthearted at the time, but when once becomes a hundred times, it’s no longer funny. It’s intentionally cruel.
Now, I’m not talking about the person who gets cheeky on one thread and then is completely rational the rest of the time they post/comment. I’m talking about the person who goes out of their way to get noticed.
The trolls are the ones who purposely begin destructive threads, nastily or dramatically, or seemingly just cheeky snarky retorts in the reply to comments on someone else’s wall, and then backpedal the instant that someone calls them on it, claiming their instant victim status with cries for sympathy and “See everyone, see what so-and-so said to me? All I did was XYZ and look, look how they responded! I NEED HAAAALP!!!” Yes, yes you do need help, but I guarantee you won’t likely find it online, unless you’re searching on your local area’s yellow pages for a mental health expert.
Do not feed the trolls. Those are the ones who no matter what, will corner you with their cruelty, and when you try to justify your position, you’re the bad guy. They claim they are always so misunderstood, that they really are the good one, the decent one, the right one, and everyone else just happens to be the baddie. It’s best not to even engage in this kind of conversation.
There is a well known law of the internet, that asserts that once Hitler’s name has been brought into a subject, the topic is pretty much officially done from having any further logical component. People are demonised and commented on as being somehow worthy of a title that befits one of the cruelest humans ever to walk the earth.
It is the absolute worst way to “win” a “debate”. Notice they were both in quotes, as it’s important to understand that using historical reasoning to solidify a current position is not only abhorrently disgusting, it’s pathetic. I can’t even begin to give you an estimate of the hundreds of times that name has come into a thread that had literally NOTHING to do with the Holocaust, World War II, or anything regarding Hitler, or any living being who suffered as a result of that time. It bothers me to see that so many people try to use this name as a position to garner favour in others’ eyes as to somehow bolster their “goodness and rightness” on a topic, let alone use it to verbally smite or diminish someone else who has a difference of opinion.
Now, a brief interlude, as this is a bit of a harder subject than most people are prepared for today.
Welcome back and hear me now: No good person will have to tell you they are a good person if they are being a good person. You will see it, and you will know it. Because they are being… G O O D.
Having to wear a badge around that says “I’m the nice one, please don’t call me a bully when I push you in the mud and steal your lunch money and give you a black eye and then call you Hitler because you didn’t agree with me” isn’t only counterproductive to your cause, it’s glaringly full of errors. Everyone can see your bullshit from miles away, and hopefully won’t engage with you. Sadly, as I write this, even without my sweet Fiona (my laptop died yesterday and is currently enroute to an Apple store in NYC to see if she’s fixable – I highly doubt it, so much is fried), I know people are being called Hitler because they don’t believe GMOs pose significant harm (they don’t people, you eat corn, you eat bananas, you eat apples, you eat seedless grapes………. I’m not gonna continue, but seriously, seriously, do your research, more than 4 articles online that just simply fit your twisted illogical confirmation bias), or they demand proof that there are no killer bunnies currently flying space ships around trying to suck the life force from our goldfish… miniature giant space hamsters, maybe, but not killer bunnies. *Yes, I just Baldur’s Gate/Monty Python’d you – I’m a nerd, and a geek, deal with it, it happens more often than you think.*
I get it; we’ve all unfortunately felt the need unknowingly or even willingly allowing ourselves to fall into this trap several times, and it’s with the air of “please learn from Pixie’s mistakes” that I say this again: Do not feed the trolls.
I’m going to go into more detail about each one in the following four articles, but rest assured, this is no light topic. And there will be a warning on these: You may not want to believe this, but it is true: this kind of trolling can lead to offline, in real life repercussions that divide families, have people lose their jobs, people getting stalked and bullied in work, school, and other places, and even convince people that the only way out is with suicide. This isn’t a light topic, and these people need to be identified.