Do you know what I’ve discovered? A year ago if you would have asked me what a troll was, I would have told you it was a mythical being out of Norse mythology or one of those cute/ugly dolls that were a huge fad in the early 60s.
My Favorite: Blinged-out Troll||image from anythingtroll.trumblr.com
When other well-known authors, my kids, my husband WW, and my IT savvy friends helped me set up my blog and my first-time Facebook account (I had planned to live to 100 and never, ever engage in FB—I consider it such a waste of time), not one of my helpers breathed a word that I would draw the ire of “trolls” and that these entities would not be from fairy tales nor would they be cute little plastic dolls. “You must enter the wide-wide-world of the Internet if you want to be successful as a writer,” they said—“Try it, it will be fun,” they said.
Now that I am doing better than I ever thought possible with this blog venture and am riding on 93,000 plus blog hits with thunderous applause from my fan base, I am beginning to get my fair share of haters, and I have been informed that these cretins are called trolls.
http://beartoons.com ||(used by permission)
At first my “trolls” were “Christians” I had briefly known from a previous life (acquaintances, who when they contacted me via Facebook some 30 years after we’d first met, I couldn’t even remember who they were). They had “friended” me on Facebook (probably to be nosy and see how life had treated me or kicked my ass in some divine retribution that they secretly hoped I deserved). Upon finding out that even though I was chubbier than the time they had last seen me, I still “loved me some Jesus” but was “mad as hell” at the misrepresentation of the love of God by many of their right-wing heroes. I began to piss some people off when I used my humor to do a shout-out to anyone who would listen that I was a Christian, but not “one of those Christians.” Wow, did the shit hit the fan, and the trolls started pouring in!
“EXAMPLES” OF SOME OF MY TROLL COMMENTS ABOUT MY BLOG
TROLL #1/MISSIONARY LADY: “You are disgusting and need to burn in Hell. What happened to you? When I knew you on the mission field, you were such a lovely Colored lady who knew her place. Now you’re crude and full of coarse humor and not worthy to speak our Lord’s name. You’re leading all those naïve heathens astray. You’re hanging around with liberals, befriending homosexuals, and voting for a Muslim terrorist for President. I will pray for your soul because you sure could use it.”
- MY RESPONSE: “WHO DIED AND MADE YOU GOD? YOUR SORRY-ASS IS PERMANENTLY BLOCKED FROM MY FB PAGE. AND . . . WHO THE HELL ARE YOU?”
TROLL #2/SARAH PALIN RELIGIOUS SYCOPHANT: “How dare you question the wisdom of God’s anointed, Sarah Palin? Do you know her? We used to be roommates, and if you were truly my friend, you would agree with me that Sarah is the chosen one.” (I checked around and discovered this troll had never met Sarah Palin.) “Now I don’t mind your potty mouth like some others might. But I expect better of you regarding one of God’s chosen. This poor woman has taken such abuse from godless people like you. God has called Sarah to lead our country out of the darkness. She is a prophet, and you better beware of speaking against God’s anointed before he strikes you dead.”
- MY RESPONSE: SAID ABSOLUTELY NOTHING—COMPLETELY IGNORED THE BITCH, BLOCKED PERSON FROM MY FB PAGE, AND PERMANENTLY TURNED BLOG COMMENT MONITOR ON. (I’d been wondering how to kick this relationship to the curb for years due to her increasingly right-wing leanings and the hurtful racist comments to me from her husband—so this was as good a time as ever.)
TROLL #3/MAD-AS-HELL-ROMNEY CAMPAIGNER: “How dare you post congratulations on your Facebook page for a man who just stole the election? You are much smarter than that! Just because that Kenyan won, doesn’t mean your prayers were answered—it means the Devil tricked you, and all you and your liberal friends who want something for nothing. You don’t even realize how much of a pathetic Christian you’ve become—you are the Devil’s spawn. I can’t stop crying that such a good, quality man as Mitt Romney has lost to such a Communist that wasn’t even born in this country and neither can any of my true Christian friends who understand that our country is going to Hell in a hand basket.”
- MY RESPONSE: “WTF? I didn’t post my meme on your Facebook page. You were snooping around on mine!” (I DELETED, BLOCKED SAID PERSON FROM FACEBOOK, AND WROTE A BLOG STORY ENTITLED: “I DON’T GIVE A FUCK WHAT YOU THINK!” (Writing is truly one of the best revenges!)
TROLL #4/BLOG FOLLOWER (SOMEONE I KNEW) WHO SUBMITTED A COMMENT TO MY BLOG LATE INTO THE NIGHT AFTER THE ELECTION RETURNS WERE ANNOUNCED IN PRESIDENT OBAMA’S FAVOR: “Hi Y’all!” (The “familiar troll” purposely addressed my audience and not me to stir up a response.) “Wasn’t tonight just over-the-top? It is so special when we can all engage in the electoral process—it shows what a great and exceptional country we have. Now, I must confess that I don’t quite agree with the results—no I really don’t. I wanted to let you all know that I’m a Christian” (the familiar troll assumed no one else was a Christian or pro-life who read my blog) “and I didn’t vote for Barak Obama because I am anti-abortion and I believe that all those little babies deserve a chance to live which this president won’t give them. He is also spending way too much money and has really bamboozled people who aren’t thinking clearly about our country’s future.” (On this particular “familiar troll’s” FB page, the responders were all born-again, white, right-wing Evangelical women who were sobbing and damning all the liberal white women they didn’t personally know but who they assumed wanted their “free birth control” from Obamacare, which must have been the reason the election was stolen from Romney. I purposely didn’t leave a comment on this person’s FB page so as not to be a disruptive troll. I respected the posters’ right to have their own opinions—no matter how misguided—and I left them to mourn in peace.) “I think if you’ll think about it and do some more research, you’ll find that we missed a true opportunity here to turn our great country around. What do you think? Well, I’m just exhausted from all the excitement and need to turn in for the battle ahead. Thanks for listening. Love ya!”
MY RESPONSE: DELETED COMMENT IMMEDIATELY AND DID NOT LET ANY OF MY READERS SEE IT. Sent an email to “said friend” who I am pretty sure is probably no longer my friend: “Out of respect for you and our friendship, I just wanted to let you know that I deleted your comment on my blog. I felt that you were baiting my readers. I heard anger in the tenor of your comment and a desire to beat the shit out of the first liberal you could get your hands on with your southern boxing gloves since no liberal was venturing onto your FB page. That’s not what Jesus would do, and I’m not going to let you do it. This is a safe place for my readers and I want it to remain as such.”
“One rule of thumb is that trolls pretend to be sincerely interested in a topic at hand—that’s how they rope you in—but their real motive is to push your neural buttons and elicit some sort of reaction. In other words, they want to make your brain every bit as angry and addled as their own. Science has got some advice on this: don’t let them. Do not feed the trolls.”—Richard Schiffman, The Huffingtonpost.com
Cartoonist James Kim||image from uwire.com
TROLL #5/TEA-BAGGER STRANGER TO MY INAUGURATION BLOG: “Eleanor, you are a horrid racist! You hate white people, you’ve never known any white person which is why you hate us so bad, and although you write well (I’ll give you that), you spew hatred upon the white race and you want us destroyed. You should be ashamed because you’re one of the reasons our country is headed for civil war. Let me say this so that it gets through your thick skull: You really hate white people like that racist Kenyan you worship!
MY RESPONSE: (I talked to my white husband, and called all my white friends [in the interest of full-disclosure, I have more white friends than I do black friends due to the nature of where I live and work], and called my half-white children and asked them: “Darlings, have I ever expressed hatred toward any other race, including the white race?”) After picking themselves up from rolling on the floor with laughter, I SENT SAID TEA BAGGER TO SPAM AND NEVER LET HIS COMMENT SEE THE LIGHT OF DAY. Although, in all honesty, I was strongly tempted to defend my honor (which is what this type of troll wants—they’re counting on you not being able to resist being falsely accused), but WW said: “Do not reward negative behavior—ignoring the dishonest taunt will be the best revenge. In other words: Don’t feed the trolls!”
That is when I had an “aha” moment and realized that all Internet trolls are nothing more than the high school bullies of old. The bullies want you to do what they want; think how they think, and submit to their control so that they can reign supreme, whether it is in the high school corridor, the church pew, or in the chat forums, the commentary sections of news articles, the message boards, or various blogs on the Internet. Bullying never stops! It really doesn’t get better after high school—sorry kids. The attacked just have to learn how to fight back against the attackers by ignoring the trolls and not giving them an audience, and then learning the most effective way to banish them into oblivion (another name for troll hell).
image from Google Media
To be fair, I am discovering that, on the surface of things, one man’s troll can be another man’s hero. When someone enters a rational and sane comment on an Internet forum about the sanity of strong background checks and limiting semi-automatic weapons as the beginning of an intelligent form of gun control, they are a standard bearer for all reasonable people—be they Democrats or Republicans. But to a Tea Party conspiracy theorist, that person is the lowest form of troll pond-scum who is taking away their God-given rights. If a fiscally conservative Republican enters a comment on a blog about the Sequester and gives a sound discourse on how to balance the budget with both spending cuts and additional revenue, to a moderate Republican and Democrat he or she is a smart thinking politician and a strong leader, but to Breitbart.com or FreedomWorks they are evil and must be destroyed.
But most trolls roam the Internet to demoralize and the validity of the subject rarely matters (it could be as delightful as loving cute furry animals or as mundane as one’s preference of jelly beans vs. cupcakes). If a right-wing conspiracy theorist troll posts a missive on my blog about jelly beans being part of a Communist take-over, and that I and all my “half-breed jelly bean-eating children” should take my “fat ass back to Africa along with my Kenyan President and leave America to the real cupcake-eating Americans,” then what is driving the troll commentary is contempt for my existence and not the desire to show me a different side of a chewy intellectual argument. So the problem is not the ability to challenge an argument with which we don’t agree. The issue is motive: What makes a troll a troll is anger and contempt (what the author Dallas Willard calls the twin scourges of the Earth). The anger drives the contempt in us for our opponent and it is that very moment (in the dismissive desire to see one’s opponent harmed or eradicated) that the troll must not be fed and must be banned.
Image from sodahead.com
“Arguing with anonymous strangers on the Internet is a sucker’s game because they almost always turn out to be—or to be indistinguishable from—self-righteous sixteen-year-olds possessing infinite amounts of free time.”― Neal Stephenson, Cryptonomicon
“The way to work with a bully is to take the ball and go home. First time, every time. When there’s no ball, there’s no game. Bullies hate that. So they’ll either behave so they can play with you or they’ll go bully someone else.”—Seth Godin
RECOMMENDED READING ABOUT DEALING WITH TROLLS:
(These are excellent articles about the subtle and not so subtle art of being trolled, and how to avoid being sucked into their vortex—be they former friends or new foes.)
Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Eleanor Tomczyk and “How the Hell Did I End Up Here?” with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.