Dealing with Trolls

Do you have a problem with trolls?

Singing trolls

No, not these trolls.

No, not those either.

I’m talking about internet trolls. Well before the advent of the internet, we as humans have always found something to complain about. There is always one person in the group that we can’t get along with; we try to be accommodating, we try to be nice, but for some reason that person always rub us the wrong way. After some point, we learn to find ways to handle them, even if they are a coworker. Then came the internet; suddenly platforms like Facebook and Instagram removed all the barriers. They are now “in” your home now – on your smart phone.

So what can you do?

It depends. If this troll just wants to torment you online, block him or her. There are plenty of functions in those platforms – from restricting your content to muting to unfriending to reporting that person to the authorities. The last resort: get off social media; delete your account. You CAN live without social media. What’s more, you’ll find you have more peace by removing one source of anxiety. You’ll always have conflict offline – like on the highway or at the office. In the 6 years since I deleted my Facebook account, I’ve never regretted it, even if I do miss my friends who live out of state or in a different country.

We’ve lost the idea of “Even if you can say it, you don’t have to say it”, especially when we are angry. A few years ago, there is a pretty major conflict at my church. I won’t go into all the details, but let’s just say I really wanted to write a 500+ words stinging rebuke. In this rebuttal, I would have responded to that person’s email paragraph by paragraph why that person was wrong – and I would have used 0 profanity. I did not send it. The simple reason: it would have been the wrong thing for me to do, even if I was right. I thought long and hard, not just about what I would say but whether to say it.

If I did send it, I would have been the troll.

Depending on what the internet troll did, I would argue that the more vicious cases is tantamount to cyberbullying. I have seen different young teenage women who went online and found a predator. They tore apart whatever she posted and persisted in hounding her. In those formative years, attacks on their identity are so much more devastating. I hate to see young women attacked like that. I hate it because it affects everything later in life- it creates issues of self-image and trust. I hate that such attacks on minors and young women because they cannot trust their future husbands: “Will he take advantage of me online?”

I wish there were ways to make trolls understand what they are doing to others. Whether they think they are right and thus justify their argumentative nature, or terrorizing people for their own thrills, it really doesn’t matter. If you are the victim or survivor, disregard the old adage that ‘Sticks and stones may break my bones/ but words shall never hurt me.” It is wrong because words do hurt.

Words have the power of life and death.

It could be that you need to see a licensed therapist or someone you trust for healing. You never quite get over hurtful words. Chances are, you might be dealing with insults from high school and that was over twenty years ago! I hope that you have loved ones who speak life over you and not troll you.

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