How to Deal with Trolls by Jimiyo
I got trolled the other day, and instead of responding to the trolling directly, I wrote this article.
Whether you are an online artist persona, help maintain a website community, or sometimes just a participant in a harmless online conversation, where there is an exchange of ideas and an open forum where anyone can express their opinions, the chances that you will encounter a troll is likely.
What is a troll?
A troll is like a heckler, someone who seems to express with great intensity such disdain and disagreement with your point of view that it’s hard not to react.
My experience with trolls covers a vast spectrum of experiences over the last decade I’ve been active online. Whether it be someone leaving derogatory comments and harsher than average critiques on my posted artworks, accusations of perceived ill intent in the comments of my personal online journals, or the accelerated experience of targeting by being the public voice and representative of Teefury.com, I’ve grown accustomed to the Haet.
I’ve come to a few conclusions.
1. You cannot change anyone’s opinion through online discussions, especially if the discussion begins through inflammatory loaded interjections. Don’t try. There’s great advice from Steve Pavlina, a personal development blogger, who says one of the best way to respond is “You could be right,” and to leave it there. Who can argue with you when you give the person what they want which is to be acknowledged and heard? Typically, trolls don’t fight with logic. You could supply scientific facts and data to inform of them of their ill perceived point of view, but they would respond with nonsense. It’s a futile battle.
2. Responding is inefficient. Give attention to the people who love and appreciate you.
What do you think would net the most positive effects to your online reputation or community?
Spending 30 minutes writing an exposition in response to a stranger to have it debunked by endless juvenile rebuttals of disconcerting logic and negative emotions, or would it be much more efficient to spend 30 minutes going onto your social network and responding to people who are leaving positive affirmations of your work?
Choose to appreciate those that appreciate you.
3. Imagine the comments of a troll as if it happened in real life, and non-react accordingly. If it would be crazy in real life, it’s still crazy on the internet too.
I used to design, print, and sell my own women’s t-shirt designs at craft events, and one day while I was talking to a prospective customer (a hot one! in fact), one of my former friends hovering around like a vulture, muttered under breath “that’s gay.” I shot him a look of disgust and confusion, because what’s gay about pimping shirts you designed and printed to a hot girl hanging on every word you are saying?
I ignored him, and continued pleasantly talking with the customer and eventually sold her a couple shirts.
Imagine the scenario if I would have broken character and in agitation started to argue with him in front of the customer, she would have been cut off in the middle of our conversation and ignored. It would have most likely made for a very awkward situation for her to stand and watch us immaturely debate if I what I was doing was gay or not.
I would have probably lost the sale just to save face with someone who obviously didn’t respect me.
In real life that was crazy. Online it would be crazy too. Don’t react.
4. Moderate. It is not wrong to ignore or delete troll comments, and doing so does not make you a Nazi. You set the rules of engagement.
Timothy Ferris, author of Four Hour Work Week, has great advice about how to look at interactions with the online community. Alot of people have their own mini communities through Facebook or blogs, and the advice still applies even if you don’t run a website.
Imagine your blog (or other online forum for interaction) as your living room. If you invite people to your home to hang out, if someone gets belligerent and disrespectful, you don’t let them continue. You show them the door. You create and control the rules of engagement.
Crazy begats Crazy.
I’ve seen the results of non-moderation through personal experience with sites with whom I’ve worked and on which I participated as a member.
One thing is clear. Without some sort of explicit declaration of the rules of engagement, if you allow troll-y actions to run rampant they will infect the community. People acclimate to the norms set forth by the community leader, and police themselves or conversely cause anarchy.
Take for example, emptees.com. After 3 years, although the site commands a tremendous amount of traffic and activity, one of the reasons cited for the decision to close the site was stated by Indie Labs as “worst of all, the community has grown increasingly negative to each other,” due to lack of moderation features.
I used to hang out at emptees, but I did eventually stop participating as I could not deal with the drama that was ubiquitous in the discussions. It was like The Lord of the Flies and the Salem Witch Trials, with a little bit of art.
Do not be afraid to moderate, otherwise it will be your demise.
5. Grow Thick Skin. Trolls will never go extinct unless mankind ceases to exist as well. If you are new to being trolled, I know it’s tough, but their reality is not yours, nor should you ever succumb to it. If you do, you might find yourself becoming a troll yourself. That’s the way it works. If you are a good person, trying to be good, do good, and remain civil, you aren’t a shitty person.
BONUS: One of my favorite prose, Desiderata, written by Max Erhman states, “Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit.” I read from many sources of inspiration seeking out truth and the right ways to live. Desiderata is one of the most simple, handy rules to live by, and to operate by even in affairs of business. Check it out here: Desiderata, written by Max Erhman
I hope you were able to get some insights from this article.
Feel free to share/link/be inspired from it as you will.
Please give credit to http://facebook.com/jimiyoart and add me if you like.
Til next time, Be Good, Do Good, Spread Good.