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Trolls, Meatheads and My Mom

Back in my uber-geek days, I used to hang out in IRC chat rooms. These were places were fellow geeks could hang out in different topic based rooms, swap stories, MP3’s (when it used to be badass) and generally connect with others.

Everytime, bar none, he would appear. The troll:

In Internet slang, a troll is someone who posts controversial, inflammatory, irrelevant, or off-topic messages in an online community, such as an online discussion forum, chat room or blog, with the primary intent of provoking other users into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion. (wikipedia)

Usually this sorry excuse for a human being would type something like “Your mom is hot” or “That’s what your mom said”. (the irony of this is that the troll usually resides in his mom’s basement, and is horribly, horribly alone)

Nowadays, trolls have moved into the social media stream, leaving nasty blog comments, sending meathead tweets or insulting Facebook comments.

I had to look-up "self prophetic"

I had to look-up "self prophetic"

How do you deal with them? How do I deal with them? (and why am I asking myself questions?)

Here are some tips to get you out of the troll spiral:

  1. DFTT: Don’t Feed The Trolls: This is by far the best piece of advice I ever received back in the day. I was getting pissy about a guy baiting me in a chat, and someone sent me a private message with that line. Trolls feel horrible about their lives, their haircut and are angry that a bowtie has not become acceptable attire in society. And they are hungry. If you don’t feed them, they eventually go look for food elsewhere.
  2. Don’t Expose Them: I’ll admit, my first reaction to these jackasses is to reply back with my sharp wit, but never forget this: If they tweet something to you, only their followers will see it (and they usually have 20 followers, my mom not being one of them, contrary to their apparent liking of said mom). BUT if you reply, if you take the bait, you now have the tweet on your main profile page, feeding the troll exponentially! Not only do you give them the satisfaction of being fed, but you’ve also given them a platform to be exposed to all your followers. The pic above was a tweet sent to me yesterday, I didn’t reply, I just blocked and went on with my day. Sure, I don’t like seeing it, but found it kind of funny and it isn’t entirely false 🙂
  3. Pick Who Gets Your Emotional Currency: For a detailed explanation of Emotional Currency, go here, but in a nutshell, you only have so much emotion to go around. It should be spent on people who value it, who value you, not some douchenozzle that just finished a 36-hour bender on World of Warcraft and is pissed his wizard lost an epic battle on the island of Corinthian. There are way too many incredible people in this world, and Twitter especially that are worth your time.
  4. Realize Where They’re Aiming: It is their lack of self-esteem that brews the hate. It actually has nothing to do with you. Do they know you? Do they have tea and crumpets with you? No. So screw em.

This isn’t about living in a bubble and only listening to happy things. Constructive criticism is one thing, being an asshole is another.

You’re worth more than troll bait. Don’t listen, don’t acknowledge. Just be you, and do it at the highest level possible, because I think you rule.

For a few more great views on this, visit my pal ElizabethPW and Seth Godin

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