Trolls have a special place on social media. They’ve been around ever since the opportunity to post comments on social platforms became a thing. You might encounter them in public chat rooms, in groups, or on community pages. They’re easy to spot. Their favorite pastime is saying mean things just to get a rise out of people.
Trolling is internet slang for people who intentionally instigate conflict by posting hostile comments on social media to cause disagreements. While you can’t avoid them, there are ways to deal with them so that you don’t get affected by the negativity they spread.
If you’re a user of social media platforms where comments are allowed, it’s likely that you’ve encountered some trolls on your feeds. Trolls are people who like to give their two cents just to have the last word. They usually provoke others by attacking them just to get a response. Their comments can be ridiculous or utterly harmful.
You might have been in the middle of a malicious attack or an observer of someone getting cyberbullied. In any case, it’s important to know who you’re up against so that you can guard your mental health and protect yourself from online malice.
Trolls like to cause mischief and controversy wherever they can. They’ll do it more overtly by posting nasty statements, or they’ll do it in a cunning way. Whichever way they do it and whatever their intention is, there are ways you can spot them.
- If you feel unsettled or intimidated by someone online, they might be trolling you.
- Trolls may single you out or talk more broadly to unnerve people.
- Trolls can come in the form of overly opinionated people who present themselves as experts and may use complex language to intimidate others.
- Their comments could come across as angry and when something doesn’t go their way, they’ll likely lead the discussion somewhere else.
- Trolls pick at things, small things. They want to alert others if they spot a discrepancy so that others can join in on the bullying.
- Some trolls pick on people who are asking for advice. They may give bad or unproductive advice.
- They like to waste people’s time by going on and on about a topic just to get everyone in on whatever it is.
- Sometimes they don’t back down, whereas at other times, they make everyone upset then disappear.
- They’re passive-aggressive. If you’re seeing a laughing emoji on a post that’s not funny, it’s likely a troll’s doing.
- An anonymous account that repeatedly targets you or mentions you in unrelated interactions on social media.
By spotting trolls early, you can choose an appropriate approach to protect your sanity. Sometimes it’s easy to back away, but sometimes they’ve already done the damage.
If you find yourself in a cyberbullying or trolling situation, it’s easy to block, delete and report someone. But what if the damage has already been done, and you’re upset, and people are offended? There are ways to stand your ground and stand up for yourself.
1. Keep Your Responses Short
It’s difficult to ignore comments that are intended to hurt. It’s important to know that the angrier you are, the feistier they’ll get. By keeping things short between you and them, you’re letting them know that they haven’t got under your skin. By not getting caught up in their drama, you’re letting them know that they’re not important to you.
2. Tell Someone
By telling someone you know (online where the bullying is happening or in-person), you are putting yourself in a position of control. It is always helpful to talk about what is bothering you before it escalates and starts to affect your mental health.
3. Don’t Copy Their Behavior
If a troll is insulting you, don’t do the same. It might be a sign that you’ve become a troll yourself. If you have the urge to get nasty to someone who is annoying you, it means that things could get ugly. If you stay calm and controlled, they won’t have enough ammunition to keep them going and will likely back down.
4. Try and Make Them Accountable for Their Actions
Depending on the kind of attack you are facing or witnessing, it’s important to understand someone’s motives. Are they doing it purely to upset people or are they expressing their beliefs? There are ways to express opinions without offending people, so if their intention is to hurt, then try and make them own up to their actions.
5. Create a No-Bullying Policy
If you’re moderating a group or community online, it’s important to write a policy of what you will and won’t tolerate. Should the situation arise, you can ban and block a person who is causing trouble by telling them they’ve violated the rules of the group.
6. Mute, Block, Report, or Delete Them
If things get too much and your patience is tested, many social media platforms have block, mute, and report buttons. It’s your right to stay away from anything that could potentially be harming you. You should be able to easily report someone’s bad behavior and keep yourself safe.
Some platforms even let you block any new accounts created by that same person.
7. Take a Break
If you’re noticing yourself getting swept up by too many online discussions that lead to a headache, take a break. It’s easy to get caught up in social media chats, but sometimes, topics, people, or situations, can lend themselves to doing more harm than good.
Sometimes friends are the ones who are overstepping these boundaries, and if this is the case, then there are many ways in which you can take a break from being friends with someone on Facebook, without outright blocking them. Knowing when to step back is important.
Tips for Business Owners and Content Creators
If you’re a creator or an owner of a product that you want to sell online, and you come across trolls who are having a negative impact on your business, learn the difference between a troll and an angry customer.
If someone is posting nasty comments without a reason, then ask them for specific examples of how/why your product is not to their satisfaction. Always respond courteously. Try and figure out what their problem is and offer advice on how to fix it (refund items, report issues, fix faults).
Don’t Let Trolls Take Over Your Socials
Some people don’t have better things to do so they start issues online to cause trouble. Other people have something to say, and it may not always be what people want to hear.
It’s important to understand early on what sort of troll you are dealing with and try and not allow them to ruin your social media experience. Know when to ignore, stand your ground, or block, and report them. And ask for help from people in your life if it gets too much.