So, An Internet Troll Got the Best of You
Though I myself have dealt with them personally a shockingly few amount of times, we leave ourselves open to potential trolls with our every online offering.
Every status we post, opinion we share and thought we express publicly.
As creatives and writers, we run an especially high risk of encountering trolls.
We never know which issue we touch on, may bring them out of the woodwork and into our comments section or inbox.
You know the type — they typically come without a profile pic or avatar — or at least rarely use a picture of themselves. Anonymity is their biggest asset.
The novice troll, often tries to offend with the profile pic itself. They disagree with anything and everything everyone on the internet says, in a loud and obnoxious fashion almost for pure sport.
They’re the type of people you see on that terrible MTV show Catfish.
People with entire lives based around some digital fictional internet personality that doesn’t really exist. Trolls tend to overcompensate online, for the lack of happiness and success in their real lives.
Hurt people, have a tendency to want to hurt people. What better way for a coward to do so than anonymously, behind a computer or phone screen from the safety of their own home.
Racists tend to be big on trolling. Any group or individual with ideals based on hate does, really. It’s easy to see online trolls for what they are but that doesn’t always make them easier to ignore.
Think about an even moderately successful celebrity. Imagine the amount of hate they get sent to them on a daily basis, just through social media alone. It’s accessible to them at anytime, right there on their phones. Endless messages and tweets from strangers, filled with vile and disgusting things.
To read or even concern themselves with every message sent to them would take up all their time and drive them absolutely mad. Successful people don’t spend their time responding to trolls on Twitter and people they’ve never met who hate them for no reason. They don’t have time for miserable souls who insult them in hopes of getting a reaction out of them, to make their lives more interesting.
Like I said, it’s sometimes easier said than done but the best course of action when dealing with a troll is usually to ignore them. They feed off responses, reactions and attention. Withhold all three from them and they usually find a better target.
Of course, when dealing with the most relentless form of troll, sometimes it’s best to just block them. The block button was invented for good reason, use it at will.
Like the shifty friend you lent money to, who you knew would never pay you back — poof — the internet troll is out of your life forever.
I myself, have been sucked into responding to online trolls. Around this time last year, I noticed mediocre rapper Talib Kweli spent an awful lot of time responding to people who tweeted negative and racist things — both to him and about him as well as just in general. Though I perhaps could have worded it better, with the best of intentions, I tweeted something along the lines of:
“You should really find something better to do with your time” to him.
Boy, was that a mistake. Like I said, I may not deal with trolls very often but thanks to Talib Kweli and his wave of would be social justice warriors, I know what it’s like to deal with them in abundance.
First it started with Kweli himself, asking why I cry for racists and calling me a Nazi. Talib proclaimed I did not own him and he would not bow to me.
He wrongly identified me as a supporter of Trumps and on came the army of trolls in my mentions, comments and direct messages.
People I had never met, wrongly assuming the worst of things about me and publicly assassinating my character. I was ignoring them at first for the most part, other than the ones filled with spelling mistakes because well — they just made it too easy.
I tried reasoning with Talib himself, apologizing and explaining he completely misinterpreted what I meant — this made no difference — his mind was made up and I was a racist who there was no redemption for.
The amount of messages and comments I got from his fans over the next few days was insane. For the most part I did my best to ignore them all and even went as far as blocking Talib Kweli, in hopes that would help diffuse the situation. For the most part it did and slowly but surely all the nonsense came to a screeching halt.
Fast forward to over nine months after the whole fiasco, when a fan of his began bashing me on Twitter after they read this story I wrote the night it happened, detailing the incident.
This time, against my better judgment — I broke my own cardinal rule in dealing with trolls and replied to him.
We exchanged insults back and forth, like children in a school yard.
I was so mad at this person I didn’t even know. I let someone who knew nothing about me, have an actual effect on my real life and how I felt.
After days of going tit for tat on Twitter with this idiot, I finally came to my senses and blocked them, bringing the whole stupid thing to an end for good.
This is precisely what I should have done from the beginning and although I knew it, I’m only human. But I wasted two days arguing with a troll on Twitter, when I knew better. A wise man once said “don’t argue with fools — because those in the distance can’t tell who’s who”.
Whatever you do, you can’t let trolls or online critics stop you from focusing on producing your best work and sharing it with as many people as possible. Pay no mind to what an anonymous hater may say. It’s better to have created and been critiqued than to have critiqued but never created.
Trolls often hate on the people who are doing the very things they wish they were but are too afraid of what people like them may say or think about them. So they misappropriate those feelings of shame and fear and needlessly critique the people who are brave enough to put themselves out there.
It’s this we need to remember, when we get the overwhelming urge to respond to these online nuisances who have nothing better to do than piss off strangers over the internet. We need to be mindful of the fact, they can only get to us when we allow them to by responding to them. Ignoring them is an automatic victory to them wise and disciplined enough to do so.