Internet Trolls

trollWith every word we say and write we need to ask a simple question, “What affect will my words have on the person hearing or reading them?” Unfortunately the Internet has been trending toward a world inhabited with trolls.  Yahbutts, dart throwers, spear chuckers, and horse puckey peddlers abound in cyberspace.  How do you deal with these discouraging encounters?  How do you know if you are one?  Read on.

Before I define some of the trolls I mentioned above. please understand that most of these are not evil people.

We can be trolls without even knowing it. That’s why it is so important to know the power words have to discourage.  Also know that I have two attributes that make me emotionally vulnerable  to even inadvertent seemingly harmless trolls.

1. I wear my heart on my sleeve. Translation: I stick my neck out by sharing my feelings and what I believe.
2. I have thin skin. Translation: I am easily hurt or offended by the words of others.

Actually, my thin skin is a weakness not an attribute.  I have to constantly remind myself that being on the Internet invites people to a conversation, a place they can weigh in with a differing opinion.  When we join an Internet community, we are welcoming people to disagree with us.

But in my opinion, sometimes they weigh in at inappropriate places and in inappropriate ways.  At the conclusion of this post I am going to ask you to weigh in and I will welcome your thoughts.  No reasonable response will be considered trolling. Here goes.

A Yahbutt is a troll who reads something heartfelt that you have posted and manages to find a way to diminish it. Most of these are well meaning people.

You write, “I love my wife more than anyone I know. ”  The Yahbutt responses, “Yeah, but shouldn’t you love God more?”

I got several interesting responses to a  picture I posted of my wife sitting at 12,000 ft overlooking a magnificent valley.  It was a snapshot of God’s creation in all it’s glory.  I put this caption on the picture:  “Mega Church.”

The positive response was overwhelming.  One person felt compelled to remind me that without more people to encourage you it’s really not a church.  Regardless of the intent of the comment it didn’t feel very encouraging,  It took some of the joy out of sharing the picture.

It felt like…..“Bad caption, theologically incorrect person! You should have titled it, “Inadequate Church,” until you add a mega congregation.”

I might have tried the congregation idea, but I don’t think I could get more than a handful of people to climb that high. The idea was to communicate how the awesome mega beauty of creation inspired us to worship that day.

Dart throwers are people who leave snarky comments designed to sting.
“I visited your site, you’re funny but you don’t mention God enough.  I am leaving.  I’ll pray for you.” 

These remarks seemed intentionally designed to hurt  and too often it works on me. When a person disagrees and suggests an alternate way of thinking, I enjoy the opportunity to engage and enter a conversation.  I am willing to listen and learn.  But I am also learning to thicken my skin and will show you how to do the same in my next post.  By the way, “I will pray for you.”  tagged on the end of a dart doesn’t mitigate the pain of the dart.

Spear throwers aim to kill.  They are the people who try to defame you or destroy your spirit.  They leave vile comments on videos you have posted or post things on your pages designed to intentionally cause pain.  I have never experienced this, but any teenager who uses Facebook will tell of the Spear Throwers that haunt the Internet spewing venom designed to destroy.   Spear throwers can also be…..

Horse Puckey Peddlers.  These are people who post and re-post untruths.  Some of it is political.  Some of it is sensational.  Some of it is personal.  Again, your children and grandchildren are experiencing this in ever increasing volume and with ever increasing viciousness. Ask any successful blogger who posts ideas on controversial subjects.

On several occasions I have tried to engage trolls, tried to explain my real intentions, tried to win them over to a conversation instead of a sniping contest.  With one or two exceptions I have NEVER received a response.

I also confess that on several occasions I have responded with my own troll like, snarky, nasty darts.  Not exactly a mature way to handle trolls.

In my next post I am going to tell you what my friends and my heart are teaching me about how to handle Internet trolls.  AND how to make sure I am not being one myself.  Remember, most trolls are not all bad people with mean intentions; they just don’t know the power of their words.

But NOW I am INVITING you to interact.  I welcome your opinions even if they disagree with mine.  Be honest.  Be real.  But please be gentle. (-:  I will not accuse you of being a troll.

Have you faced trolls?
How does it affect you?
How do you respond?
Have you ever found yourself throwing darts or spears or the horsey stuff?

Your comments will be invaluable as I shape my next post.