The internet is pretty amazing. Never before has news, fashion, gaming, updates on your loved ones or videos of dogs doing sit ups been so accessible. It is now a recognised part of our generation that we will have our phone attached to our hand when out and about. There’s nothing wrong with that, times change. Unfortunately, with the amount of people that use the internet, you are bound to encounter the not so nice side of the internet at some point. Putting yourself ‘out there’ on social media leaves you open to judgement by complete strangers, or even those who know you personally.
I had a tough time in high school, I went to an all girls school and it wasn’t an enjoyable experience for me at all. I can’t help but imagine how it would have been if I then had access to a Facebook account, and how much more miserable I would have been if other girls were able to contact me outside of school hours too. Even now, at 27, it is a lot of pressure to keep up a certain ‘appearance’ when posting on social media. There are apps to modify your looks, even apps to buy likes and followers and make you look like you have friends. You can do all that stuff, but at the end of the day you can’t please everyone.
I first thought about ‘trolling’ when I began to cosplay. I looked for inspiration on certain sites and found negative accounts slating those who didn’t look a certain way, or berating someone’s efforts. Since then, I have noticed more people quick to vocalise their disdain for someone else while behind a keyboard. These so called ‘Keyboard Warriors’ take time out of their day to be hurtful and mean to people via social media. Some take aim at celebrities, some at minority groups, some at their ex,etc.
You’re probably thinking, ‘Great story Grandpa, but what are you even on about?’. To be honest, I don’t know. I don’t know why this happens, and why people feel the need to wield their so called superiority over people they don’t even know. To me, social media is a place to share what you love, make friends(if you want) and that’s it.
Based on my own experiences and those of some friends, please find below a helpful guide to dealing with these elusive creatures known as Trolls, who like Dwarves and Sins, often come in sevens, so watch out for these when wandering the wilds of the web.
This spiteful troll can be found making nasty comments on personal aspects of people’s appearance. The words tend to come from a place of personal insecurity and jealousy. Hannah recalls being called a ‘walrus’ by a girl via Reddit. She says ‘She said my husband deserved an award for having sex with me, I got to see what the disgusting part of humanity was really like and it’s called ‘Reddit users’.’ Hannah says she now deals with such comments by reading out loud the comments on video and tagging the person. She wants trolls to see how their words can affect others.
Don’t let the size of this troll fool you, Bratty trolls can be found at any age.This often naive troll doesn’t realise the consequences of its words and doesn’t open their mind to a bigger picture. Mostly found vocalising empty threats on easy targets. As Amanda says: ‘they fall back on the old tried and tested bullying methods. Weight, ethnicity, height, gender,etc. Demoralising their efforts or laughing at them can result in them giving up.’
This nitpicking being can be found correcting your ‘mistakes’. It appears to know it all, and has no qualms about showing it. Often part of a fandom, they do not welcome new people into their clique, and will make an effort to make you feel inferior. Everyone has the right to like whatever they want, and Amanda rightfully adds ‘Just because their voice is louder doesn’t mean they should be heard.’
Temperamental and quick to anger, don’t let the burly appearance of this troll intimidate, it is actually quite tame. Hiding behind the safety of a keyboard, this creature is found projecting it’s anger onto unsuspecting recipients. It doesn’t have a specific target, anyone can feel it’s wrath. My friend Zach recounts a time where he was targeted via MySpace by someone who lived in his town. ‘He was threatening to kill me for no reason, at least as far as I knew. I reported him to MySpace and his profile disappeared. Luckily I never heard from him again.’
Has an uncanny ability to find arguments and make them 10x worse. This harbinger of chaos has a knack for fanning the flames and stirring up more drama, which it thrives from. I see posts like this all the time on group pages, people desperate for a reaction. It never ends well, and it really is best to not give them the satisfaction. Some trolls just want to watch the world burn. Kane speaks of his experiences on YouTube and Tumblr: ‘Some people specifically go onto a page for a band and post negative comments for their fans to jump to the bait. I once came across a Tumblr argument generator online. That’s how much this is a hobby for some people.’
This troll lives for likes and will stop at nothing to preserve their perfect social media façade. Although seemingly harmless, these trolls feel validated by their online personalities and enjoy making others feel inferior or just plain uncomfortable through overly sexualised posts, editing the heck out of photos and seemingly spending all their time at the gym. Although mostly just mildly irritating, if you dare to bring them back to reality or question their ethos, the ego can definitely bite back. I was targeted by someone like this, who did not like that my post disagreed with her chosen look, and chose to call me jealous and mean(I didn’t even have her in mind when posting). I made the mistake of engaging with her and it escalated horribly. I chose to block her and move on with my life. You cannot please everyone.
Blindly finding their way through the internet and sorely misinformed, once you’ve deciphered the poor spelling and grammar you realise this troll has no idea what it’s talking about. Residing in the darker corners of dailymail.co.uk, this troll spouts recycled nonsense rather than forming an opinion of their own. My friend Sofia mentions someone on her Facebook timeline who always posts this kind of content. ‘One of her statuses was along the lines of ‘How can anyone be trialled for rape? Just push them off or say no(sic).’
All of the above trolls can only succeed if they are being listened to. Be careful not to engage, and if things get really bad do not be afraid to speak to someone you trust. And remember, anybody can be a troll, just be careful to keep these critters in check and think before you type. Hopefully we can make the internet a peaceful place for everyone.
Be safe out there and be sure to share your stories below. You may have encountered a troll that we didn’t mention!
Special thanks to my contributors to this article: Hannah, Amanda , Sofia and Zach. They all run fantastic Instagram pages, so be sure to follow them. And a BIG super special thanks to Broken Tuna (aka Kane) for collaborating with me on this difficult issue.