Trolls are People, too.

I used to think (well kinda still do) that the best way to deal with an internet troll (i.e. people who tell you to kill yourself and other such vile spewing) is to either laugh at them or ignore them. My logic being that trying to reason with or get offended by such comments means that the troll has won. They want that attention, that spotlight, and if you give it to them, things aren't going to look pretty for the one getting trolled.

That logic is (sortof) getting tested everyday. Most of my outlook on life is learning from the mistakes I've made without being told I'm making the mistakes that I'm making. When we see someone making a mistake, most (most not all) of our gut reactions is to call out that person in the most negative way possible. We punish them, rather than try and discipline them. So most of the time when I was caught making a mistake, I didn't learn anything, I was just being called out for it with no reason to respect the person that did call me out. I wasn't learning anything.

Then I read this:

*I have more to say on this later, but read the link and also "Our Internet Empathy Problem".


  • Also, you should note, that while enlightening, both articles are in fact kinda graphic in nature, so keep that in mind if you decide to read them or not.

    ....But back on topic, while I was able to learn from my mistakes by watching others, I wasn't really told that I was screwing up, or when I was, I was just getting yelled at rather than being taught. So while I still do kinda believe that we should laugh at or ignore trolls in some cases, maybe reaching out politely, trying to engage them, and trying to teach them rather than fuel them, would be the better course of action.

    You can't always be successful, obviously, but I'm willing to bet that a lot of the people who troll do so without thinking of the consequences. If we try and teach them of the consequences, and learn their side of the story, give them a place to vent, maybe the issue will be better. Not gone, but better.

  • There's also the reverse. This kid went to jail for a death threat over facebook.

    It is true that yelling at someone certainly doesn't teach them anything, it just makes them want to rebel more. You can try to educate the person, but there's no guarantee they'll listen. Talking nice to someone and making them feel included sometimes works. A pleasant response is the last thing an angry person expects. They know how to respond to an angry comment, but not a nice one. It all depends on their motivation for being a troll in the first place. Some are trolls because they have bad social skills and really don't know how else to interact or get attention anywhere. Some are even disgruntled members venting under an alter-ego. Some just find people's reactions amusing.

    According to this article, internet trolls have Machiavellian characteristics. It was only based on a survey though, so anyone could have lied or picked the funny answers.

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