Three Tips that Can Relieve Internet Troll Anxiety!

words copyThere was overwhelming response to my last post identifying Internet Trollsand identifying the pain they can inflict. Writing that post led me to a deeper analysis of the entire issue.  It’s really about the use of words.

There will always be trolls who purposely post hurtful words.  I will cover how to deal with them last.  For those who want to avoid their words being misunderstood and for those with thin skin like me who sometimes  misinterpret words…. Here are some helpful tips to keep in mind every time you read or write.

1. Know the weakness of written words.

Words are most powerful when connected to clarifying influences.

  • Voice inflection
  • Facial expression
  • Relationship

Once those influences are removed, the specific intent of words is weakened.   The lid flies open on a Pandora’s box filled with possibilities of misunderstanding and misinterpretation.

Let me give you an example.  The other day my wife said to me, “You’re an idiot!”  At the time she said it, she was laughing at a photo bomb I had created.   Her laughter, her smile, and our 45-year relationship left no doubt of the teasing, loving nature of her comment.

Now imagine that I had posted that same photo and someone I didn’t know commented.  Your an idiot!” – “Grow up!”  or some similar comment.  Without the clarifying influence of expression, inflection and relationship the door is wide open to misinterpret the comment.  The chance of misunderstanding is multiplied when dealing with…….

  • Issues of passion
  • Attempts at humor
  • The exchange of differing opinions

If you are aware of the weakness of words, strengthen your ability to be understood by using more words.   Example:  Although I probably would never leave the comment “You are an idiot,”  if I added these words, “That’s what I like about you!” it removes doubt from the intent of the comment.

2. Know the power of words.

Some words like idiot, stupid, and hate shouldn’t be a part of any response to a person or their ideas.  Always strive for civility.

If you disagree with an idea, ask a question that encourages discourse.  If you aren’t interested in having a conversation, posting your displeasure with the post is a form of trolling.  You will NEVER convince the other person with a few weak words that they are wrong.

Troll comment:  “What a stupid idea!”
Civil comment:  “Although I disagree, I am curious as to how you came to this conclusion?”
Very civil comment:  “Keep up the good work!”
Always safe comment:  No comment at all.

Work hard not to be a troll.   Unless you are willing to start a conversation, leave encouraging comments.  Think twice before you write to be sure it’s not a bite.

3. Here’s a final tip I was given to keep from being discouraged by trolls.

Assume the best.
Believe that the person who tries to better the caption you have put on a picture has good intentions in mind.  At worst they simply want to appear smarter or more clever that you.  Not pretty, but no harm done.   At best they are trying to expand on what you posted.  No harm done.

Shake off the worst.

Why is it that we can receive thousands of positive responses and still choose to obsess over one negative comment?  Notice it is a choice. Ducks have an amazing ability to shake all the water from their body with a single convulsive shake of their feathers.  When a troll posts intentionally discouraging comments on your site, choose to shake it off.

One person responded to my first installment on trolls, suggesting that we respond with loving kindness.  If you have the time and maturity to do that, it is probably the best response.  I still have some room for growth here.  So for now the best response to intentional trolls for me is a good shake of the feathers and firm stroke of the DELETE key!

Question: What tips work for you? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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5 thoughts on “Three Tips that Can Relieve Internet Troll Anxiety!

  1. I usually deal with trolls my using words that tend to confuse people. I believe that on shouldn’t use simple one syllable words when a 5 syllable word is more appropriate or exactly matches my thoughts. with this being said It is getting harder and harder to do this as my memory disorder progresses. As a side note my blueberry bagel tasted like yellow mustard and my peanut butter tasted like cold bacon.

  2. I usually deal with trolls my using words that tend to confuse people. I believe that I shouldn’t use simple one syllable words when a 5 syllable word is more appropriate or exactly matches my thoughts. With this being said It is getting harder and harder to do this as my memory disorder progresses. As a side note my blueberry bagel tasted like yellow mustard and my peanut butter tasted like cold bacon.

  3. It definitely depends on who writes the comment. If it came from someone who I know loves me, it hurts but may also make me think, “Are they right.” If it comes from someone I have little respect for anyway, my response is probably, “You are an idiot!” I just try not to type it.

  4. Love this post Ken!! And love how you showed a breakdown of the different ways people can comment – from Troll to Always Safe! Todd and I have tried to establish a new rule for us that if we think the message can be misconstrued, we pick up the phone and call the person, and if we don’t have something nice to say, we keep our mouth shut and break our fingers!!

  5. I know it’s been a long time since you first posted this, but I just wanted to let you know that in 2016, it’s still helping me out! Did a quick internet search about how to deal with trolls, and this article was one of the first to come up. I really like the point you make about the weakness of written words. It can be so easy to read even more into something without any context than perhaps was ever there to begin with. Your mind can really go crazy filling in all the gaps.

    It’s so tempting to want to take the low road with trolls…to get super defensive and try to fight back. In my experience, though, it’s you (never the troll) who is reaping the negative repercussions of all of this stress and anxiety and defensiveness. It’s impossible to argue with someone who just likes to argue and wants to get a rise out of you. Ignoring it completely, while VERY hard to do at times, is ultimately often the safest route. I think a lot of trolls are just desperate for attention, good or bad.

    Thank you again for this encouraging article! It made my day a bit brighter. 🙂