So to preface this, this would be my first MyTake on Gag and I wanted to make it something that not only had my attention and people could relate to, but something I felt I could speak about in depth. After narrowing it down, I decided to go with this topic since it is something we all have to deal with on the site here- and that is trolls.
What is a Troll? An Internet Troll is defined as an individual who posts inflammatory, insincere, digressive, extraneous, or off topic messages in an online community such as social media, forum, chat room, blog, video, etc. with the sole intent to trigger emotional responses from people who are passionate about the topic they choose to poke at- a good example here being the Society and Politics tab. Anyone here on GaG is familiar with specific users that do this, but a lot of them also go under an anon guise, which honestly makes no sense because you are already anonymous with your username to begin with, at that point it is just a way to save face and keeping an established credibility that has already been formed, but that is another topic for another day.
Now unfortunately for us, these annoying little weevils multiply and keep coming back like an aggressive bout of herpes. Like an itch, the more you scratch it the more it'll continue. The commonality is attention. If you ignore these individuals and not give them the time of day, then in theory they fail. You give them attention, you end up giving them the satisfaction that they provoked you to say something to begin with, doesn't matter if it is good or bad, just saying something back in general tends to be the goal. They can't win a duel if they can't get a rise out of you. You beat them in this case by not taking what they give you, which is bait. Don't take the bait.
Now, since trolls are something we have to deal with and we can only control how we respond, what do we do? We have a couple of options to choose from and this will be dependent on you as an individual.
1.) Block known users and limit responses to non-anon users.
GaG fortunately gives us a method to mitigate this to a degree. We are able to block people who are masters at this and whose sole purpose is to start shit by going into our settings and putting in a user's name. This blocks their questions from coming on your feed and it also keeps them from commenting on your posts as well. Probably the best option if you are easily triggered or find yourself tempted to respond to the chode of the day.
2.) Ignore the user and the posts.
Now if you happen to have more restraint and can spot the bullshit in advance, you can easily use this step as your preferred option. So long as you don't comment on known users or anon questions designed to specifically start a problem, you'll be fine. If the users in turn try to come after you from comments you post or questions you ask, you are able to implement option one via block.
3.) Troll Back.
Now this is a double-edged sword. If you simply do not care and have a sense of humor with a skill of manipulation or are very cunning, you may be able to get a rise out of the troll who started the remark to begin with. This is not recommended in my eyes because this does two things. One, it gives them the attention they crave, and secondly, you are condoning it by playing into the game as well. I will admit I am guilty of playing along to a degree by taking bait on some of these questions I see on the site here, examples recently being me calling anon users Timmy and doing the agree and amplify technique to whatever question they ask.
As long as the online realm keeps us connected, there will be clashing views on topics and differences of opinion, and the unfortunate trolls to go with it. This is not me asking for trolling to stop, nor is it me saying that it needs to end. What my goal with this MyTake outside of trying to give a level of humor, knowledge and personal experiences of the subject at hand, I want accountability to be had. Mind you when I say accountability, I mean personal ownership of how you respond to the fuckery that this brings. If you choose to partake in trolling, fine. If you wish to ignore it and let the little turds starve, do so. At the end of the day, personal fallout from your decisions will come pending what you choose to do.
The world is already divided enough as is and a lot of it stems from people being unable to be rational or afraid of confrontation and conflict. You have the ability to react or respond and devote time and energy to. Do you want to waste your time with someone purposely trying to cause you problems for kicks from the other side of the world in the middle of nowhere or do you wish to maintain frame and power over your tormentors?
Furthermore, take a step back and think about a troll when they make a post. Ask yourself this. Are they are just miserable and only get joy out of others suffering? Would they even think twice about saying this to someone's face in public without the shield of anonymity to do so? Perhaps they are just lonely? Who knows? Bottom line, should you come across one of these individuals during your daily peruse of online content, exercise restraint and think about how you want to respond should you choose to engage. Don't react. Respond.
Most Helpful Opinions
This is well-written, Shadez.
I clicked on this because you wrote it, not because of the subject matter. I must admit, I've been through my own journey and experience, of said trolls (just as everyone online has) and honestly, I have pretty much zero interest in the topic now. I came to my own conclusions about them, and tweaked my tactics on how I deal with them. For me, I really didn't/don't need to read anything about the subject. I can very easily walk away instead of engaging with them, and after a long period of experimentation, and then removing all my blocks and starting over with a clean slate and open mind... I eventually decided on the validity of blocking, and I have my finger at the ready once again, only now my methods of discernment are I think neither too loose nor too impulsively stern. After all, we all have the right to decide how, and with whom, we spend our time.
However, I actually didn't not-enjoy reading this, simply because of how you worded it, your writing. It was well done, and not full of useless filler. I also appreciate the strong words and opinions within it.
My opinion, personally, is that the main issue with trolls is not how to deal with them, but in identifying them. Not that I honestly give two fucks about a lot of idiots' opinions, and their attempts to defend, rebuke, all that other shit. But... the issue is that some people are trolls, and many are not - the latter are rude, bigoted, uninformed, people, riddled with internal biases, who believe very passionately in what they say, their 'cause', and think 'rigorous debate' is part of life, and good for society. They shout 'snowflake' and 'censorship' and all those other, easy, fallback, labels. However there is some validity to those who immediately shut down (block) all those who disagree while making a fair, rational, point.
Now method matters. So, rude, nasty, etc. people do not really deserve us bending our ear towards them. Say it with some self-restraint (even though you're angry) or shut the fuck up. You're right about the anonymity and pseudonyms online. It emboldens people who would never dare say such things to a person standing opposite them. The internet has emboldened those who lack true courage. In fact, often the more idiotic and uninformed are the ones who scream the loudest. But anyway, that goes without saying.
If we treat all who are angry, feisty, etc. as trolls, if we are too trigger-happy, we kill conversation and important social discourse. We can potentially entrench even further. The divide grows. But if we can calmly address some others' concerns, even when they seem initially unpleasant, etc., then they feel listened to, heard, and that is the #1 requirement in negotiations and managing complex social situations/disagreements/etc. What you've laid out is clearly a how to deal with trolls methodology, and it is sound. But I think the problem is identifying a troll. There are many impassioned people. We all know emotions play a part in every person's behaviour (despite what many men would like to claim.) Me, I prefer to label (in my mind) some people as 'asshole', and I won't deal with them. Rude and antagonistic get a block. Trolls for the most part get ignored. People who disagree but make a fair point, don't make things personal, don't insult, and have proven their decent credibility over a long period of time... they are the tricky ones to decide exactly how to respond. Often, the most reasonable response is to walk away for the time being, but not write them off forever. Oh, and those who choose to anon are dead to me. Their opinions have no weight. Just like the asshole who commented yesterday on one of my topic questions about sex, ""Pleasure is for us. Not you. I make it painful and humiliating just to get the point across." That motherfucker is blocked. And I suggest all others do the same.