As an Author, I enjoy meeting new people on social media and finding out what their interests are. I also like to engage in subjects about pop culture, TV shows, and sports. I’ve met quite a few people on social media who have even helped me with my writing career, exposed me to a new point-of-view about certain things or exchanged cooking tips or household remedies. However, I soon realized that not everyone uses social media for good intentions. You have some people that have social media accounts for the sole purpose of trolling others. What do I mean by "trolling?"
Trolling is an act in which someone deliberately provokes others online, typically through inflammatory, offensive, or provocative comments. Their intent is to get an emotional response from others, particularly, an angry one. They often veer off subject and will begin to attack the individual personally, such as their gender, race, sexual orientation, or religion. Granted, everyone has an opinion, but a person trolling carries that opinion to a heightened level in order to draw attention to themselves. They also try to get others to take their side. Some of their comments are endless, and can lead to cyber-bullying (a whole other topic), but trolling is usually how it starts.
How can you identify someone who is trolling? Honestly, it depends on the person. It usually begins with how their words affect you. Are they using targeting words that are offensive or discriminatory toward certain groups? Once you identify someone who is trolling, you don’t have to accept their behavior. You have a right to stand up for yourself. If someone is making a false accusation about you or personally attacking you, you can defend yourself by stating the facts. Keep your comment brief, and try to avoid going back and forth with the individual. Otherwise, you just may allow the troll to come out of you! By the same token, you don’t have to be quick to take offense either. Ask yourself if what is being said is that serious or if you’re really just having a bad day. If it's not a threat or blatantly offensive, you could laugh it off or just ignore them and move on. Not everyone on social media will say things that we like. We don't have to be a fragile egg just because someone doesn't agree. The key is, know yourself, be discerning of what the other person’s intentions may be, are they really just sharing their own opinion? or are they trying to make others mad? Assess the person's tone by the word choices they use, and most of all the subject matter. If you know you are more sensitive about certain subjects than perhaps it’s best not to engage in them at all. (I had to learn this the hard way!).
A person who is trolling will always feed off another person’s sensitivities (Trust me, my blood has boiled over some people's comments, but now I have better control). Remember, a person who likes to troll wants the spotlight on them. They want to be the center of attention to compensate for their own insecurities. Once I learned to read between the lines so to speak, I knew when it was time to log-off and handle more important business.
The reality is, a troll would probably never say what they post online face-to-face. They don’t have the courage to do so. So why battle with a coward? You don’t have to prove them wrong when you know you're right, even if others online don't see it. Some things just aren't worth the debate.
At the end of the day, there is nothing like having peace of mind on social media, so if you need to delete or block an individual for being a troll, you can make them ‘Poof be gone!’ by the click of a button. If it's really that bad, you can report them to the appropriate authorities. Don't let a troll stop YOU, but YOU stop the troll by protecting YOU!
Published on July 3, 2017 with Book Cover Magazine