If you write a blog and happen to work in the publishing industry, the chances are you have been trolled in the last year. If you write a blog and say what you think, the chances are you have also been trolled. If you are an editor or proofreader and write a blog… heaven help you!
I tend not to approve messages from unidentifiable persons (or even identifiable persons for that matter) who swoop in, make snide (often generic) remarks, then swoop out again. I don’t even tend to re-read the article, unless it was one I posted quickly.
The truth of the matter is, as I’ve mentioned before, even editors need editors and proofreaders, but as I tend to write as I talk for my blog, grammatical pedantry is perhaps not the most important of things for me here. Fellow editors politely let each other know if any major faux pas or spelling mistake has been made (we are a friendly, professional bunch) but, on the whole, writing a blog article is a bit of a rushed project for most people at least some of the time. For me, blog writing takes place in-between work, theatre and family commitments. I honestly have no time to whip out editor resources and make sure that every last comma, colon and umlaut are in place. My blog is informal, my work is impeccable.
Let’s admit it people – most blog posts are not going to win any writing contests.
I’ve been trolled a few times over the past year. No matter how I tried to ignore it, it did open my eyes. For many, 2014 was the year of the troll – people, often anonymous, who will belittle others with no main objective other than public humiliation. The Independent has a fabulous article on the rise of stranger shaming and how humiliating others has become acceptable.
We’ve had people such as Katie Hopkins who have trolled so much and so viciously that they have become ‘celebrities’. If you have been watching Celebrity Big Brother you will have seen how this ‘troll’ has admitted to loving the power of words, and would rather offend and insult than sit on the fence and become bland. There is a difference, dear Katie, between being bland and being respectful of your fellow human beings.
But this is designed to put a stop to the trolls who are vicious, troubling and criminal. Most of us have to deal with the petty little trolls who think they are superior, or just want to humiliate in public. So, ladies and gentlemen…
Do not engage with him.
Your troll knows no boundaries.
Do not talk to him. If you have already started, stop. No explanations are necessary.
You may think you are being trolled by a City banker, but it may be a 13-year old school kid.
Or that 13-year old school kid you think you are being attacked by could actually be a City banker, or a bored housewife, or an academic in-between classes.
On the internet, first contact can often be deceiving.
Do not think you know your troll. Do not try to reason with him.
Do not give him what he wants. Do not engage and do not react.
While I suspect that many trolls fall into this category to some degree, you cannot know the mental health of the troll. They may genuinely not know how they are coming across, they may be mentally ill, or suicidal, or just an ingrained bully.
Do not assume you know what makes him tick and that he is well. Do not engage and fuel his illness. It’s kinder in the long-run for both of you.
For whatever reason, trolls are attention seekers – ignore them and they should crawl back into their cave. They are a sad fact of 21st century life but, with a little care and attention, they may become an endangered species of the kind no-one wants to save. Until then, if a troll galumphs through the internet and lands on your page: if you are on Social Media, block them; if you are on a forum, report them; and if they are on your blog, don’t allow comments and don’t engage.
Let’s make the internet a happy place, and don’t let the b***ds get you down!
*Disclaimer* This article was written in-between work, coursework, theatre obligations and family life. If you spot a typo it’s there for your amusement.
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© Sara-Jayne Donaldson, 2013-2019.