The problem with trolls is they attract attention - like a librarian with Tourette’s.
Drivers slow down to observe wrecks. It’s a sad practice - and often causes delays and harm to others - but most of us do it, even knowing we may see something we’ll really regret. Same with trolls. And spontaneous combustion.
Trolls cannot exist without enablers. They need attention. They require a response in order to stay nourished or they die. Picture a Chia Pet shaped like Sean Hannity. Do you really want to water that?
What exactly is a troll? Someone who provokes others with the goal of redirecting the focus to themselves.
For a troll it’s all about them, all the time.
When confronted for their behavior, trolls shift blame, hurl personal insults, and taunt with belittling names. Pretty much your standard kindergarten variety mini-thug behavior.
There may be lots of reasons why people continue to respond to and enable trolls. I can’t pretend to know them all - I can only mention a few I’ve observed and been guilty of.
• It’s fun. It’s like giving a dog peanut butter and it’s cheaper than the movies.
• Some folks have “last word” or “been bullied” issues. They may have missed a chance to cyber thrash someone who got the best of them but God help the next halfwit who even hints at impertinence.
• Others continue to respond to trolls for reasons related to their particular personality. They enjoy the back and forth - like playing catch - even though it’s really more like bouncing a ball off their own forehead.
• Others see the troll problem as a free speech issue. “Everyone has a right to express their opinion.” Trolls rub their hands and lick their chops when they hear this. Any pretense of “intellectual debate” offers them the limelight and the opportunity to bray at the wind they crave.
• Then there’s the “Usual Suspects” syndrome. I’m not accusing anyone of anything. But if you consistently find your avatar at the scene of the crime - firing off comments regardless of the kerfuffle du jour - you may want to think about the possibility of troll-codependent issues.
• Lastly there’s the “Martyrdom” complex.
Martyrdom is really not a valid concept in cyber world. Real martyrdom is a one time gig.
Nevertheless many who engage in regular online quarreling fancy themselves defenders of a truth or a cause worth dying for - or at the very least worth flouncing for.
One thing usually works in regard to quieting trolls. Ignore them. Don’t respond in any way to them. Let ‘em twist in the wind - alone.
Starve a troll of the attention they covet and they’ll lose their motivation to jabber.
The opposite holds true. Give a troll one tiny foothold of attention - one crumb of a nod from the table of dialogue - and they’ll grow like “The Blob” in the campy Steve McQueen flick.
Heated debate, argument, and goofing with others are not at all what I’m addressing here. Civil debate and horsing around can provide some of life’s sweetest interactions. What I’m addressing is enabling abusive people and continuing to give them a platform to speak instead of ignoring them, starving them, and exiling them to a lonely, excruciating, cyber death.
So, that’s my little tirade. I want to state for the record I seek neither to condemn nor criticize anyone for feuding with trolls.
I also understand why this advice will - in all likelihood - go unheeded. And I blame no one. Far from it. I understand the temptation to duke it out. I do it myself on occasion. Ignoring aint easy work. But in the long run it’s really the only thing that quiets the village idiot.