Don’t feed me, bro. Like, ever.
The Internet Troll.
This is the animal you don’t want in the zoo because it craps where the kids walk, farts where families eat, makes fun of the other residents in the zoo and blames it on the hapless orangutan just sitting there picking his nose and eating it.
In short, this misanthrope ne’er-do-wells living in mama’s garage surrounded by the latest Star Wars bobbleheads still in enshrined in original packaging are out to do someone … anyone harm. Why? For esses-and-giggles. They enter an online discussion, usually slimy, rotund belly first and bad breath second. There’s no interest of healthy discourse, intelligent debate or stimulating conversation. Just Ya’ Mama jokes or worse. They suck but can be stopped.
They are anonymous because they are cowards. They cause spite because they have Daddy issues. They get banned in forums and see it as a badge of valor. Trolls don’t have rules or scruples for that matter. These minions of jackassery usually have a gallon of kerosene in-tow, along with a box of matches, ready to set fire to any conversation.
Although many think an “intelligent troll” is a chupacabra, a unicorn or at the very least, an oxymoron, they all try to come off that way. However, with a few fastidious tactics, you can clear a room of trolls much like my grandfather does after a big bowl of chili.
1. Don’t Entertain Them. The number source of protein for these digital dunderheads is attention. Give it to them, and it’s like water on a Gremlin. You know those kids in class always groaning, jumping, yelping and doing whatever it takes to get the teacher’s attention? That’s a troll, only without the bladder of pee. Internet trolls are the types to light a cigarette in the arid California weather only to flick it out the window in hopes of a wildfire. It’s the chaos that entertains them. The second you decide arguing with an Internet troll is a good idea is the same second you hand in your cool points because legions of schmucks begin laughing at you like your fly is down.
2. Know Your Stuff. Most Internet trolls are just smart enough to be dangerous, just enough opinion to get someone pissed but not enough education on the matter to understand how to form a persuasive. Sure, a troll will begin with some inflammatory statement, like discussing national tragedy and some lunatic 9/11 “truther” shows up. They make the claim, fan the fart and make everyone deal with the stink. There’s no support, no insight, no foundation. That said, if you want to put a kibosh on the troll, know your information so well that it can shut anyone down. Sure, you are open to discussion but a troll doesn’t care about discussion. Make your point, shut him or her down and move on.
3. Kill the Anonymity. Granted, if you are surfing on the social media waves of coolness, then anonymity is carte blanche. However, for blog owners, there are ways you can insist that people not hide behind names like “I.P. Nightly” or some such. Pre-registration, disabling anon comments or whatever works. The trolls will find ways to get around your paltry walls of futility, but at least it’s an obstacle. It’s also a statement — you do not entertain, enjoy or appreciate people that can’t own up to their own vitriol. If someone is pissed at what you said, let them. However, if they are mad and choose to make up a profile just to keep digging at you, then they are not worth the time or energy.
4. Twist Their Words. If you enjoy a spirited debate, like I do, this may be more of your style. When the troll squats, be sure that is the intent and pay close attention to what he or she is prattling about and then turn it on them. Make it seem like said neanderthal is agreeing with your point. They will tire of “That’s not what I said, you [expletive blah blah].” Eventually, they give up on the fight because they realize it’s a non-sequitur and can’t win. You know, go temporarily insane for a minute. Something like, “You know, I’m sure you live in a small apartment, which means your wiener is short too.” There’s no comeback and they vanish like a fart in the wind.
5. Run and Tell. There’s nothing wrong with utilizing an email to a Webmaster. That’s why they are there; yet, so many people would rather deal with it on their own. News flash: Some varmints just need to be dealt with fast and harshly. Face it, you may not be that talented on this Web thingy to block an IP address, form a whitelist or implement a blacklist. If there is a troll that will not leave you alone, report its tail to the proper people who want to make your Internet surfing experience more festive of an occasion. Webmasters also know how to track all that Matrix-looking stuff to ensure the fumes of the troll doesn’t stink up your joint again.
In closing, consider a quote by the aforementioned genius above noted with his tongue out:
“Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I am not sure about the universe.”
Encounter trolls much?