For a while, I’ve wanted to write a post about the best ways to deal with trolls on the Internet. Despite what many seem to think, trolls have always existed, as long as the Internet has. Really, “trolling” used to mean people having a laugh and it’s now taken on a different meaning.
What also kind of annoys me is that there are some who say anyone who disagrees with them is a troll. There’s a big difference between psychological harm and someone just tactlessly disagreeing. I’ve even been branded a troll myself because I disagreed with someone. I was mortified! It’s a word that is used far too frequently now.
My first experience of online trolling was way back in 1996 when someone in a Compuserve chat room had a go at me simply for being Scottish and a protestant and not supporting Rangers. The nerve of me! There is no shortage of advice on how to survive trolling, and definitely no shortage of support for those suffering. But what I always want to do is scrape something positive from the experience, if possible. So, here are my top 5 tips for dealing with nasty people.
Please note that I always recommend that you mute people who are upsetting you online. If they are being abusive or threatening, copy the link of their comment or tweet as this is the best way to gather evidence to pass it on to the police. I took advice from Strathclyde Police about this once and they advised me that screenshots are not sufficient.
Use Your Experience To Help Others
One of my most recent experiences saw me having to block someone I had believed was a positive connection until that point. I had even gifted her a free paperback copy of my books once, at my own expense. However, there’s outright bullying and there’s passive-aggression, both of which can be harmful and damaging to your confidence, so would I really call her a troll? I’m not sure. Putting a word like “healthy” in quotes like that when talking about someone’s weight, for example is pretty mean though.
So, I had to make something positive out of this and I decided the best way was to write a blog about Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder. Not only was it closure for me and a way of helping others to get more information and identify what they might be going through themselves, it was a French-manicured middle finger to my troll and everyone else who had been nasty to me because of my issues over the years.
I was scared about writing it but it felt magic after I posted. So, take whatever issues are being used against you, whether it’s race, gender, sexuality, mental health issues etc and make an Instagram post or a blog out of it. Make it meaningful and positive and explain how it has affected you. I’ll bet you get support from those who matter.
Make Every Reply A Sales Opportunity
While I don’t recommend sharing your own products with a troll, I do think you should use it for good. Perhaps you have an Amazon affiliate account. Send them links to things. Anything. For example, if someone was being derogatory about my country now, I’d send them a link to a Scottish flag on Amazon, with an affiliate link, of course. If they click, anything they buy in the next 30 days will provide a residual income for you. Win.
Of course, they might not click your links, but someone else seeing the fight might, and then get distracted on Amazon and buy a TV. You just never know and it’s worth a try.
Keep A Sense Of Humour About It – Literally
I know this man who has a very effective way of dealing with trolls. I can’t say who he is or share the profile he uses but he has three profiles. One for his casual chats, one for his professional life and another for winding up trolls. He has invented this character who has some special psychic talents and can offer her services for free for them, if they want.
While I don’t condone fake profiles or winding people up, it is a way of distracting the troll. It keeps an air of humour in a situation that might otherwise be frustrating. So long as nobody is defrauding anyone, threatening anyone or getting hurt, I do think this is an option if you feel that way inclined. Just remember not to take it too far or you might end up getting in trouble yourself or making yourself angrier if they then turn on your pseudonym.
When all else fails…
If you’re at a loss for what to say to someone who is completely unreasonable, just say, “Good bot! Here, have a ruble.” Then mute them and move on. If it’s a real person, they’ll be furious at the insinuation that they don’t even exist. But if it really is a bot, because who knows these days, it won’t matter what you say and it might disappear now that it’s been rumbled.
If you have any other ways of dealing with nuisance tweets or comments online, I would love it if you shared them below. Who knows, perhaps we will manage to collect enough best ways to deal with trolls to write another post sharing everyone else’s tips!