I am an opinionated woman (duh, blog) and I’ve spent enough time on social media, as an opinionated woman—that is an important fact–to know what a troll is.
History and fables tells us that trolls are nasty beings, those creatures that dwell under bridge, ask stupid questions and try to ruin everyone’s day. Here is Wikipedia’s spiel on them.
A troll is a supernatural being in Norse mythology and Scandinavian folklore. In origin, troll may have been a negative synonym for a jötunn (plural jötnar). In Old Norse sources, beings described as trolls dwell in isolated rocks, mountains, or caves, live together in small family units, and are rarely helpful to human beings.
Later, in Scandinavian folklore, trolls became beings in their own right, where they live far from human habitation, are not Christianized, and are considered dangerous to human beings. Depending on the region from which accounts of trolls stem, their appearance varies greatly; trolls may be ugly and slow-witted, or look and behave exactly like human beings, with no particularly grotesque characteristic about them
Outside of your everyday fairytale or folklore legend, however, it used to be that trolls or “trolling” was an obscure term. If you’ve ever been on a forum or message board, especially before the birth of high traffic social media, you were aware of what a troll was before it was a go-to term. They were ones who entered a thread with the sole purpose of wreaking havoc. Nothing was beneath them–attacking strangers using any tactic was fair game. A young girl with an eating disorder–Attacked her weight. A minority? Racist slurs, of course! A woman? You’ll be directed back into the kitchen before you can formulate a response.
Here’s Wiki’s spiel on an Internet Troll:
In Internet slang, a troll (/ˈtroʊl/, /ˈtrɒl/) is a person who sows discord on the Internet by starting arguments or upsetting people, by posting inflammatory, 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 or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion, often for their own amusement.
Some of us have a history of dealing with trolls. For a small moment in time, I was a troll. It was in a controlled environment, where trolls battled trolls, (and it wasn’t often that we strayed outside of this small sect of bullies who bully other bullies; next to none actually) but still, the purpose was to dig as deep as you could, construct an insult of the higher order, for the biggest momentum of disruption, feelings be damned.
So I, in some context, understand what a troll is, although my version of “trolling” was playing the dirty dozen with a people I’d known for years. What I’ve never understood is—what makes a troll, who goes out of their way to do these sort of things to strangers, want to troll?
I once read an article about a woman who’d discovered her husband was a troll and he was a troll of the worst variety–the anonymous kind. He was going onto Tumblr, leaving anonymous messages to teenage girls telling them to kill themselves. By the end of the article I couldn’t distinguish if this man was 1) mentally deranged (I conflating mental derangement as the trope’ish kind of “crazy” or “mad” that you see in movies. I have no other word for it at the moment.) or 2) Evil.
(Note: there are no correlations between mental illness and evilness. But you’re smart. You know that.)
Yet, this isn’t a blog to try and delve into the minds of trolls. I think they are sad little creatures who live in their mother’s basements, have “nice-guy” syndrome or are mad at the prom-queen, maybe didn’t get to date the captain for the football team and generally mad at the world for some strange reason they can never vocalize without outing themselves as trolls. (The guy above said he did it for “stress relief”. Some people exercise or do breathing exercises to relieve stress.)
I’m here to tell you how to avoid feeding trolls–Because honestly they are attention hungry, very attention hungry. They are lacking “nutrients” (attention) in their lives and rely on you to feed them. Your misery, annoyance, discomfort fills their bellies and they go on to live another day to harass another person.
Note: This will be Twitter biased as that’s where I meet the most trolls, however you can apply this to any format of social media.)
How to point out and avoid trolls:
Check the AVI/Avatar/Profile Picture
Nothing screams TROLL like. [insert pictures of anon grey head, twitter bird, egg]. Anomonity gives them the courage they lack in real life, the control they don’t get from their wives, the chance at power they don’t get as Treasurer of the PTA because no one listens to them. Every thing they have festering inside of them is unleased as soon as they log into their Twitter account and see that bright shiny egg staring back at them.
- Racist Troll Twitter LOVES, absolutely loves, profile pictures of:
DOGS, maybe cats, The Constitution, definitely American flags, definitely guns, MOST DEFINITELY juxtaposition of The American Flag and Guns. Also see: fishing boats, pictures of them holding up a fish, any fuzzy low megapixel shot of them in a natural setting. Usually woods or a lake, a caricature of President Barack Obama. Donald Trump.
- Be especially wary if it’s an anime character.
- Note: if it’s a picture of someone such as Hitler or a member of the KKK, these aren’t trolls, these are sociopaths. Use caution.
Although it’s a petty thing for me to do, I always check someone’s follower/friend (or rating if you are on a forum) before I debate them. Something about a person with 5 followers, following 1,000 people throws me off. It’s obvious no one listens to them, but they spend a majority of their time online listening to others, only for sole purpose of interrupting their conversation with their unnecessary 2 cents.
Block List/List they’ve created
Twitter has done the ultimate and provided sharable block list. This requires cooperation with others but if you have a few, check their list. Also, check the list THEY’VE created. I am currently on a few list, most of them insults of the “Racist Black!” “Stupid Libretard!” variety. When someone enters my mentions, I take a quick scan of their list. Any weird ones, I quietly ignore it as if I never saw it.
Their actual timeline (news feed, recent posts)
This is a big indicator and also ties in with their followers. If you go to a timeline and 99% of it is them @’ing people with either the same message, a variety of the same message with some mix and match curse words, this person is a troll.
This works across all social media platforms with a few twerks and body rolls for maximum flexibility. Facebook? Avoid the Memes. Tumblr. Might have to turn your anons OFF. Blogs? DON’T READ THE COMMENTS IN THE BLOG, ANY BLOG. That’s like taking a lap in toxic waste.
The cure to trolls? Don’t feed them. Don’t give them the satisfaction. My favorite method is to reply after they’ve mentioned them with any zinger that I have, then promptly block them. Because I’m petty. Whatever your method, don’t let these poor unfortunate souls ruin your day. Let them starve.
Release and now relax,