And by don't feed, I mean don't give them the pleasure of getting you down.
Recently I read an article (somewhere I cannot remember, sorry!) that discussed being positive online and being mindful of your digital footprint. In other words, everything you say online (yes, even you anonymous trolls we all love to hate!) can and will be eventually traced back to you. And do you want someone's opinion of you to be formed from a mean-spirited comment you left in anger on some blog post or discussion board somewhere? It probably sounds like I have an ax to grind, but I really don't, personally. Like I said, this hasn't happened to me on my blog or anywhere else. But I've come across a few things here and there on the www recently that have me a little peeved about this topic of what can really be considered online bullying.
I'm not talking about a disagreement or difference of opinion... clearly there are as many opinions as there are people, so, you know- billions. And not everyone is going to think or live or act like I do, and that's okay. But why in the world is it okay for me (or anyone else) to publicly call out that person for something I don't like? Oh yeah... it's not okay.
For example, if a person regularly posts something you don't care for (maybe a daily picture of Starbucks... hey! it's another frappuccino... what a surprise!) then do yourself a favor and hide them. But taking to your own page to criticize their choice of page content is stupid, because everyone knows who you're talking about and now you look like the jerk, not the person who's happily sipping her coffee (or whatever it may be.) I have been shocked a few times lately over how some people, with very little prompting, have no qualms about being very negative and critical toward others for things that are, honestly, pretty trivial. And while I am certainly not a fan of everything that comes through my newsfeed or blog feed every day, why would I feel the need to trot off and openly be hateful about it?
So, a few words of advice for those of you who feel the need to be the trolls of the online world and spew hateful, immature words. (By the way, if you think I'm talking about you, I probably am.)
1. Grow up. "I don't like her because she wore a blue shirt! What a stupid picture of her cat! That guy is always eating cookies; what a loser!" These sound more like words I'd hear in my third grade classroom than statuses from grown-up adults, but they aren't very far from the truth. Seriously? Let other people live without the need for a public service announcement every time someone annoys you. And again, a complaint now and then is not what I'm talking about... I'm talking about mean-spirited tearing down of others.
2. Shut up. Seriously, just tear your eager little fingers away from the keyboard and walk away. Hide, delete, do whatever you need to do so you don't have to see whatever it is that is so very offensive to you, and just shut up. Unless you are genuinely trying to help someone come to a different point of view (in a kind way) then zip it and ignore them. This is especially true, I think, if you're on a blog or page or something of someone whose worldview is a polar opposite of yours. If you know you're going to disagree, why keep coming back? It's a typical troll move.
3. Wise up. (In other words, educate yourself.) Have you ever noticed that most of the time, trolls are not very smart? It's like they just vomited a whole bunch of mean words and didn't bother with sentence structure or punctuation. If you insist upon being a troll, or defending one, at least know how to speak, for heaven's sake.To quote Mike Wazowski, "If you're gonna threaten me, do it properly." On the flip side, just because you put together a well-worded comment doesn't mean it's kind or true. It could be Pulitzer-worthy, but if you're being hateful then it shouldn't be said.
I typically don't get on a high-horse about things like this (although I'm not above it) but it just reeeeally gets under my skin when people use the internet to bully and put down others.And sadly, I'm not even talking about teenagers or kids (that's another post entirely!). Good grief, I can get worked up over mean comments toward someone I don't even know, let alone a friend. And more than once in the last few weeks, I've seen at least two blog friends of mine down on themselves because of internet trolls running their mouths (er, fingers) about other people's blogs/content/style/parenting/personality/whatever. Just stop, okay? I'm such a passive person (in real life... controversy is probably my greatest fear after public speaking or Target being destroyed by a hurricane) that, like I said, I usually just let stuff go, but I am considering this my response to every troll who has ever made a friend of mine feel bad (or future trolls here on my blog, if my good fortune runs out.) And you really can't argue with one, so the best response is a big fat delete... or a good rousing response and then a delete. It's like the obnoxious little kid on the playground who wants to wet-willy everyone... your teacher was probably right when she said to ignore him so he'd stop. That doesn't mean you didn't want to shove his face in the grass, but most trolls will not be silenced by a polite "please go away and never come back." You just have to hide, delete, block, whatever and let it go.
And obviously all of this would translate to real life, but I feel like online bullying is so much more prevalent because of the supposed anonymity of it. "I can delete the comment.... I can hide the post... I can write a hateful post and then leave the group...muwahahaha." Um, no. Let's all agree to stop trolling (if, heaven forbid, you've ever done it) or stand up to the trolls of the world. There are more of us than there are of them, right? The good guys always win, right?
Start at about 40 seconds... or, you know, watch the whole thing.
\Hey trolls: we all see you. So "play nice!"