The Story of The Internet “troll”

The people you meet online Add comments

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The people to watch out for when you use message boards, forums or any site where there is direct interaction with others.

Most people who have used the Internet to chat with others have met the resident Trolls. The Troll is often quite a sad and lonely character but usually quite intelligent. They dominate any kind of on-line forum, respond to practically every post, frequently attempt to take things off topic, use bait and switch tactics, level insults in a passive aggressive way and NEVER admit to being wrong about anything.

If you ever saw a thread get totally out of hand and become angry, inflamed and offensive you can bet there is a troll in the middle of it. To put this into a real life context, the troll would be the person at a party who talked the loudest, controlled which music was played and decided where everyone was going to sit.

What can often happen as a result of a troll infestation is that other participants are often scared off from the moment they make a post. The Troll sees that someone new is in their territory and responds in a way that clearly marks that territory as their own and responds to what was often a very innocent comment by belittling, making veiled insults and attempting to make the newcomer feel uneducated and inadequate in some way. This can often be very personal. If the newcomer dares to retaliate, the troll will respond with smiley icons and insist they were being friendly and welcoming and it was taken the wrong way – often implying that there must be underlying insecurities there because YOU took it the wrong way. Once again taking the opportunity to belittle.

It can often seem that the trolls have support within the forum, and if the victim seeks the help of others they will be met with anything from what appears to be support for the troll or a just ignore it attitude. This can be very upsetting, when it is plain to see that there is only one culprit and its the Troll. But consider this; They may well be fully aware of what the Troll is doing, may have been a victim of it themselves and the reason they ignore it now is because while the Troll has their spotlight on YOU, its not on THEM.

So what can we do about the Troll? The best thing to do is to stop posting, think carefully about how important an Internet message board really is to you. Does it pay your bills, feed your family and keep a roof over your head? Who are these people anyway? A bunch of random strangers scattered around the globe who could stop contributing at any moment, for any reason, when LIFE calls them back to the REAL world.

The second option is to continue to post and totally IGNORE anything that the Troll posts in response. Literally act like they are just NOT THERE. This can be hard as the Troll needs the negative energy to survive like an addict needs its drugs, so it isn’t going to give up and go away quietly, in fact it will become MORE present, MORE determined and try new tactics to draw you back in. But sit back and allow it, don’t react. When a Troll is starved of your reaction it can often become so desperate for attention that it will engage in behaviour, and post comments that WILL get a reaction from those who were not being supportive. Everyone has a point where they wont just stand by and allow someone to be attacked, so ignoring the Troll and allowing them truly expose themselves can often be the best way to deal with them – and without you personally needing to say a thing.

Another thing to consider when using on-line forums is hidden agendas and the motivation of others for being there at all. Take for example a forum that discusses a certain brand of car. The threads will most likely be about where to source parts, how to fix problems, group meetings etc. The only potential problem there could be due to jealousy or a ‘my car is better than yours’ attitude. The human ego at its finest. But imagine a forum created for people who all work in the same place. A forum that the management come in and read. This kind of forum is TOTALLY different. It is comprised of those who are FOR the company and those who think it could be better. More-so, this forum has people who will stand up and say what they think can be improved, versus people who crawl around the management kissing a**. They may also think it can be improved, but sucking up to management is all they do. I have seen first hand a forum where people will start a thread on payday THANKING the management for PAYING them! Given that the money that was earned by these people is the reason the managers even HAVE a job that is more than a little odd.

Probably the worst kinds of forum are the ones created for people looking for love or dating. One would think that a forum is a great place to get to know people in a group environment and make friends before taking things further, and on the surface it can APPEAR to be that way, but BEWARE. If someone is interested in another member, then the things they post will be aimed at impressing that person, often in a very obvious, cringe worthy and embarrassing way. If you dare to offer an opinion and the object of desire responds in a more positive way to YOU than to the person who likes them – take cover. Sometimes you can even be instantly hated / resented for how you look. If you post a picture and you are attractive then you can be perceived as a threat by the desperate, less secure users ( and of course the Troll). What you post could be akin to Mother Theresa’s words but because you don’t look like her, then you are a THREAT.

The way to behave in this environment is to keep things in perspective. Switch the computer off, take a walk, call a friend, watch TV, DETACH when you feel that you are being pulled into a drama. This is especially good advice for parents. We have all seen how some adults can behave in this environment and how seriously things can be taken. Now imagine a teenager, emotionally immature, insecure, lacking the life skills needed to deal with the on-line Trolls. The situation then becomes far more sinister and in the past few years there have been teens who have resorted to suicide when on-line activities took over their lives and left them unable to cope with on-line attacks by others. If you are a parent – do you KNOW what your child is doing on line?

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