So You're Being Trolled Online, Now What?

The troll of our childhood was a horrid creature who lurked under bridges and waited to jump out and frighten or rob unsuspecting passersby or grab your feet from under your bed. Today’s troll is even more insidious, skulking around every corner of the internet looking to pounce on an innocent comment, heart felt memorial, or declaration.


In computer speak, a troll is a person who seeks to provoke a response, either by posting comments on social media or on blogs that are argumentative, inflammatory, or just plain ugly in a pathetic attempt to generate attention or control the way the victim is viewed.


At one time or another, most people who use the internet fall victim to the unwanted attention or a troll. But if you find yourself a frequent target, try these five steps to minimize the discomfort.



While most troll-like behavior is pretty obvious (making sexually explicit comments on your posts about a family trip to Disney or laughing at your grief over a friend’s passing), sometimes people assume that they are being trolled when in fact someone is simply disagreeing with them.  If you post a comment about how much you love Trump and someone else posts that they hate Trump, that is likely just a matter of discourse. If you post a picture of your puppy and some unknown person starts talking about Trump or sexuality or religion, etc.…that’s Trolling.



If you post a lot of political, religious, controversial, or sexually suggestive content, you are a troll’s dream come true. I’m not saying that you don’t have a right to express your political, religious, or other beliefs, but if you do choose to use a social forum to do so, be prepared.



Trolls succeed when people attempt to either shame the troll for their post or argue with them about content. That is the goal of the troll, so it is not likely to get them to stop. If someone trolls one of your comments, just ignore them.  Sometimes you can delete a comment (especially on blog posts) or erase your original post, which erases the troll post as well. But even if you can’t get rid of the troll post yourself, ignore.



Often posting “Oh I see the trolls are out in force today” followed be a refusal to engage the poster is a terrific way of dealing with the troll. They seek attention and your anger, so by making the troll inconsequential, you take away his or her power.



Some trolls go far beyond stupid comments. If a troll is making actual threats, posting personal details about you, posting sexually explicit photos, or is making statements that fall afoul of the platforms rules, its best to let an administrator or platform authority take care of the situation. You can report the activity to an authority who has the power to block or ban the troll.


Above all, try to remember that while upsetting…it’s not really about you. While some trolls will follow and stalk people whom they feel are easy to wind-up (so don’t be easy to wind-up), the behavior is really about insecurity and trying to feel important at your expense.