Online Trolls 101: How To Decrypt And Battle Them has been edited by Nidhi Shah.
Damn! Just look at yourself. Why would you put up such a picture? You look fat and ugly.
How dare you say that? I am going to find you and I am going to kill you while your family watches.
Your mother should have thrown you into a garbage bag the day you were born.
These aren’t my words or statements. Their source? Online trolls. Hate speech. Cyberbullying. Whatever you want to call it. These are real comments on social media posts of people like you and me.
Ever since the advent of social media, the world has changed. Today, life without Facebook and Twitter is unimaginable. No Instagram story of your perfectly baked pizza? That just sounds absurd. Out with your gang and no selfies on Snapchat? Doesn’t seem right, does it?
Yes, it is a great source to connect with people from all walks of life, helps you keep up to date with the world and have a detailed perspective of what’s going on around you. Social media is a great way to find a job, establish contacts, or just a platform for people to gather and share ideas. This was its intended use and belief. But then came the era of the online trolls and social media was never the same again.
Remarks like the ones seen at the beginning are common today over the web. Be it Facebook, Reddit or even Mirror Now, snide comments are everywhere. Such conduct extends from obscenity to verbal abuse or individual assaults, and lewd behaviour. Online trolls and trolling have become so rampant that several websites have even resorted to disabling comments completely.
A recent Pew Internet Survey found that 4 out of 10 people have been harassed online, with far more having witnessed such behaviour.
So what exactly are online trolls?
I believe that trolling is done by a vocal minority of sociopathic people. The media, as well as the survey mentioned above—which concentrated on interviewing these people—strengthens this conviction. Research even demonstrated that online trolls have inclining individual and natural attributes, for example, perversion and an affinity to look for unreasonable incitement. All in all, it boils down to the inherent need to seek attention. However, in my opinion, mood and discussion context are together a much stronger indicator of trolling than identifying a specific individual as an online troll. It might be safe to say that an individual’s environment causes a troll more than any inherent trait.
Trolling is situational. Anyone can influence an ordinary guy to be an online troll and such behaviour can end up spreading like wildfire. A single troll comment in a discussion perhaps written by a person who woke up on the wrong side of the bed can lead to worse moods among other participants, and even more troll comments elsewhere. As this negative behaviour continues to propagate, trolling ends up becoming the accepted norm.
As an average user, know that you don’t always have to respond. Don’t stop or do anything differently or cry your eyes out. Why? Because that’s what they want. He wants you to respond. She wants you to change the way you dress. They want to have a say in what you eat. How else will they feel a sense of accomplishment? How else will their life have a sense of purpose?
So the next time you are online and find someone dragging you into this, just remember one simple thing: silence is the best response to a fool.
Chin up, little soldier. You’ve just begun!
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