Trolls. No, I don’t mean the kind that lives under bridges in fairytales. Nor do I mean the successful 2016 children’s movie starring Anna Kendrick and Justin Timberlake. I mean the negative nancies of the internet who see it as their job to bully and harass online creators.
You don’t have to have 4 million YouTube subscribers or Instagram followers to attract hate. Smaller channels and pages can get malicious comments too and they can be just as hurtful and upsetting, especially when they’re attacking your insecurities.
The whole situation can be extremely overwhelming and at times, you may feel hopeless against these keyboard warriors. But remember that behind every mean comment is a person who has weaknesses and emotions too. Know your enemy and react accordingly.
Not sure how to go about it? Take a deep breath, and keep reading. Here are some of my methods tactics to handle online trolls.
Don’t Feed the Trolls
Have you ever been taunted on the playground? It’s unfortunately a very common experience for young kids. Situations are always very similar – a bully comes up to you and starts to yell mean slurs while poking you in the back. Every time you turn around and yell, “STOP!” it fuels their fire even more and they keep going. But as soon as you pretend like they’re not there or you can’t hear them, they magically stop.
The same principle can be applied to dealing with trolls. Online trolls thrive on making people feel angry, frustrated, and annoyed. They love knowing they can manipulate people’s emotions like that. They’re hooked on the power trip like hard drugs.
But don’t give them a reaction! Ignore them. They’ll hopefully get bored and find a more productive hobby that makes a contribution to society.
Note that ignoring doesn’t exclusively mean not writing back. It also means not deleting their comments either. Doing so will only acknowledge that you’ve seen their posts and that it’s greatly affected you.
If after a while ignoring doesn’t work, there’s always the option to block them. Don’t let them gain access to you or the content that you’re proud of and worked so hard on.
Fact Check and Correct their Grammar and Spelling Mistakes
Most often, trolls are not the most educated people out there. No self-respecting honour roll student, business entrepreneur, neurosurgeon, astrophysicist, media journalist or criminal lawyer is going to be sitting behind a screen looking for easy prey to target.
Trolls are often terrible at spelling and grammar. They use the wrong words, abbreviate everything and the most common and arguably more frustrating than the attack itself – they use ‘your’ instead of ‘you’re’.
Use this to your advantage. Correct their mistakes and deflect their inferiority back to them.
In a similar way, the things that trolls say don’t usually stem from logic or reason. They’re not looking to spark any meaningful discussions. They simply want to stir the pot and initiate some drama in the hopes of spicing up their mundane life.
So fact check them. Identify things that they got incorrect and respond with the real truth. It’ll make them feel silly for trying to outsmart you when all they did was reveal their ignorance.
Instead of responding in sarcastic rage and bitterness, use humour. Post a witty comeback that either plays into their attack and embraces what they’re saying and/or turns it around onto them.
Be confident and unfazed.
It’ll defy the expectations of the troll and send the message that they’re not going to get the reaction they want out of you. Embarrass them into leaving you alone.
Be Caring and Kind
Trolls often do what they do because they want to project their own troubles and insecurity onto someone else. They can’t control what’s happening in their own lives so they want to have authority over other people’s. It’s quite sad if you think about it.
Be the bigger person and as the famous saying goes, kill them with kindness.
Show some sympathy for the troll and recognise the personal issues that they may be going through.
It might make them realise the error of their ways and feel bad for trying to hurt someone who only wants to show them concern and care. Think of it somewhat as ‘troll rehabilitation’.
Log Off Social Media and Talk to Someone
Constant online trolling can be extremely taxing on your mental health. It can be distressing, draining and deter you from producing content altogether.
If you find yourself in this position, step away from your laptop or phone. Limit your interactions with trolls as much as possible. Distract yourself and do things that you enjoy and will lift your spirits. Take a walk. Visit a friend. Watch a movie.
People have bad days sometimes, and this might influence how much a comment will impact you. Taking a break and refreshing your mind might allow you to see things from a new perspective. The one mean comment that made you feel like crying and quitting social media altogether might actually seem insignificant after all.
But if it still doesn’t, that’s perfectly normal too.
You might find it helpful to talk about it to someone you trust. Vent about it, ask for advice or even devise and post a clapback together. Whatever it is, getting support from close friends and family or even followers who can remind you of your talents and passion, can make you feel astronomically better.
So there you have it! Now we’re at the end, let’s recap some of my approaches for ridding yourself of online trolls:
- Ignore them
- Fix up their mistakes and hit them with facts
- Use humour
- Show kindness and understanding
- Take a break from social media and talk to someone else
Never let anyone, especially not a faceless and cowardly online stranger, discourage you from pursuing your social media goals and passions.
Don’t let the trolls win!
If you want to learn more about social media and production, head HERE to the Online Creator Institute.