If social media were a party, Internet trolls are gatecrashers who turn off the music, then spill all the booze.
You’ve seen them before: Those comments whose owners hide under the guise of their cryptic usernames (i.e. ihateu666, usuxih8u, etc.) and leave behind the most tactless remarks. You can tolerate the grammar Nazi, the know-it-all, and the politically correct, but them? Oh dear, where’s that ‘disappear in life’ button when you need it?
Don’t worry. There are ways to keep this unwanted presence away, and put them back in their special place in online hell.
#1 Don’t post anything offensive
A troll is the love child of real life, pathetic hate and an overly accommodating virtual world. Expect them to wander around sites, finding posts to despise.
Now, the first thing to keep them away is by not posting anything that can attract them. It’s a preventive measure against the enemy—and an etiquette reminder to all of us here. Think before posting: Will your post be too graphic that it will illicit disgust among your followers? Will you cross snarky territory with that racist comment? Did you really want to post your nude pic there? If you answered no, then don’t. No post, no troll.
#2 If you did, apologize and move on
But let’s say you did. And *poof!* comes the troll, calling you all sorts of dehumanizing terms made available by Urban Dictionary. Settle down, think of your faults. Did you deserve the hate? If your conscience and your friends agree to an extent, apologize for it. Take your post down if necessary. Not only will you bury the post in its Internet grave, but also kill the hate that went with it.
#3 If you didn’t, know your troll
But what if you strictly posted food porn and baby photos? Still, the trolls keep coming, commenting how ugly your baby is (Oh no they didn’t?!), and why you deserve to die for simply being fat.
This is where your Philosophy classes back in college come in: Who are you again, and why are you getting hate for a positive post? You’re no celebrity, but apparently, somebody follows you this much so he or she can hate. Now’s the perfect time to know your enemy.
Do you know him or her? If not, at least find out their motivation. In a 2014 study called “Trolls Just Want to Have Fun,” trolls are said to exhibit sadist, psychopathic, and Machiavellian tendencies. In other words, they find joy in your suffering.
There are different kinds of trolls—from those who simply leave hate comments to those who sexually harass. To simply ignore or outright report them depends on a few things.
#4 Keep your mouth shut—in this case, don’t comment back
Some trolls just like the attention, so we recommend that you don’t give it. The thing with trolls is that they will keep arguing to their deaths just to see you get all so worked up on something that might not even be true. So you got called a bitch? Kimmy Schmidt would think it’s a nice compliment.
Choose your battles—that adage applies online, too. Ignorance and blocking are bliss. So live your life just the way you do because at least you’re not spreading hate behind a computer screen all-day long.
#5 Report and usher the troll to their virtual exits
If the hate gets out of hand—an influx of hate messages or constant attacks on your family, body image, sexuality, and career—give them the exit they deserve by reporting them.
Facebook has intricate, step-by-step measures against those who troll in different sections of the site.
Twitter, on the other hand, has improved their reporting system in the past year. Click on the three dots found below the offensive tweet, and choose whether to block or report. A series of dialogue boxes (or options) follow, which also helps target the nature of the trolling.
Instagram has also beefed up their FAQ section, where you can see how to block unwanted spammers and harassers, and not make them see that you did. This way, you can hold the trolls off until their patience builds enough again to make a new hate account.
#6 Keep your account private
Congrats, you’ve successfully reported and blocked the troll from your social media history! Now keep it up, and don’t let them inside your territory again. Don’t be fooled by the dopamine fueled by all those follow requests: This time, filter your friends list by only allowing family and trusted friends in your pages. That way, you control your virtual circles, and maintain healthy friendships and esteems as you go along.
If anybody needs to tell you anything, they can text you or tell it your face—no need for a spineless, anonymous disguise in the interwebs.
Art by Dorothy Guya