We've all come across trolls before. People who just want to incite a reaction from others by being offensive or overly ignorant. There is more than one kind of troll though. Some of them actually believe in the ignorance they are saying and will not accept any evidence to the contrary. These are the climate change deniers, the gamergaters, the people who want to deny others their rights because of 'Christian Values', and so on. Some of which will make it their mission in life to destroy you. So pull up your socks, grab your Hellrender axe, and prepare for combat.
I've blogged before about not feeding the troll, but sometimes that isn't an option. Sometimes you have to deal with them, or they make it impossible for you to ignore them. This blog post is about how to deal with the frothy mouthed trolls who want you to have a bad day because they have nothing better to do. The ones who will not go away while trying to find new ways to reach out and annoy someone.
HarassmentI know of many ways to deflect someone's argument. Like if they made a ridiculous argument that makes perfect nonsense then I show them how crazy it looks. Hey I can make insane statements too! If Trump is elected president then Godzilla has vowed to destroy New York. How do you respond to the threats of Godzilla?
The problem is when the Trolls QQ. What I mean is when they begin to get upset and emotionally involved. QQ is used to represent two eyes with tears streaming down. What happens when they take it too far? What happens when they pester you over and over and over again like a toddler with a question? You block them, then they create another account to reach their grubby troll fingers out toward you over and over. What do you do then?
The worst is when they bring it back to their hive to escalate the attack. An entire group of gamergaters or sad puppies might be at your doorstep protesting in public. Blocking individuals at this point doesn't help much when you are being bombarded with thousands of acidic messages from different sources. What can you do then? The don't feed the troll method still works for the most part, but when things get really bad we need something else that we can defend ourselves with.
How to Pew PewPew Pew is the sound of a gun shooting in a cartoony video game like MegaMan. The Pew Pew is how I would choose to fight back. That doesn't mean I support building a real video game gun then going out and shooting people with it. It means embracing the hate. Have fun without being insulting. Be confident that love will win, no matter what.
The first step is to not let it get to you. Haters are gonna hate. Snapping back at them like a rabid pit bull means they win. Remember that people who are looking at an argument from the outside can't tell who is who, so project the voice of reason at every turn. The bad guys only have to win once against the superhero. That one time of snapping back will be a beacon that your opponents can point to forever. Don't give them that ammo. We need all the ammo we can hold onto in this game, there is no extra lives code.
The second step is to be a superhero where your power is to be exceptionally polite. Their hate is going to get out there in public at some point once they realize that you aren't going to bend or break to their will. Control what you can control and don't worry about what you can't. You can only do so much to ensure that others aren't brought into the fray by keeping your website clean. Moderate the comments using a fire dragon. Scorched earth behind the shed looks better than having five foot tall weeds in your front yard.
Step three is to craft a respectful response. Don't engage with their message, and don't allow comments. Agree to disagree and move on. Your position is not changing, and they aren't going to change theirs. What is the point of bickering over it? No one needs that negative energy in their life. This is where you can get up close in their face and give them a huge hug infused with rainbows and cherry coke. Show them that you have love for all even though you don't necessarily agree with them. As I've heard many Christians say repeatedly, "Hate the sin, but love the sinner."
ConclusionNo matter what you do, some people are going to hate. Some people will get angrier when you stay positive in spite of their attacks. It is impossible to please everyone. That's like trying to win a contest of who can pee on your shoes better. You still end up with shoes covered in pee. Make the best of a bad situation by doing whatever you can to avoid making it worse. This blog post is one way you can try to defuse the situation.
I do have some experience with this sort of thing coming from my background as a gamer. Once upon a time I was a league admin for an online first person shooter game for a few years. I've seen first hand the kind of intolerant and ignorant attitudes that congregate within gaming communities. From close to the beginning of online competition global chat has been outlawed in matches for these reasons. I must admit that I did not handle things as well back then as I would now, and I suffered for it. The stress and anguish taxed me back then, and my hope is that this post could help others to avoid that suffering.
If you have your own story to share or if you have another suggestion on how to defuse the situation please post it in the comments. I would love to hear it. This has been one of the toughest blog posts I have written. How do you deal with a crowd of people online who are angry with you specifically? It is a difficult situation for anyone to deal with. I'm not even sure if my solution is the best path, but it is the one I would use today if faced with that situation.