There 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
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.