Don’t let trolls spoil your fun

You cannot separate the concept of toxic fandoms from trolls. In fact, toxic fandoms are only prevalent today because trolls have multiplied exponentially.

If you rarely interact with other users online, the term ‘troll’ is probably alien to you. Trolls are online bullies. Obviously, this does not apply to everyone. But the average internet user is looking for positive social rewards. You want people to engage positively with your content (laugh at your jokes, leave likes, praise your photos, etc).

You also hope to reciprocate by laughing at other people’s jokes, liking their content, and leaving encouraging remarks. Trolls are different. A 2019 BBC article spoke to Imran Ahmen (CEO of the Center for Countering Digital Hate) about this issue. According to Imran, trolls have ‘Negative Social Potency.’

They derive pleasure from the suffering of others. They search for the vilest insults to throw at random strangers online because they enjoy the emotional overreaction that follows. Trolls are easy to spot because they can easily derail a pleasant conversation by unleashing unprovoked attacks.

They mock and abuse others for no apparent reason because they want to bait you into an argument. And once the shouting begins, they remove themselves from the equation because their job is done.

Sometimes, these arguments can generate thousands of comments before the participants begin to question why they are fighting. Trolling does not always take the form of unprovoked insults. Some people do the opposite. Rather than attacking, they take offense to innocent comments and pieces of content, and their sour response inevitably ruins things.

You also have traffic trolls. They want to make everything about themselves. Every comment they leave eventually pushes you to download their content, follow their page, or buy their product, which does not sound so bad until they begin copying and pasting the same set of comments and links into every conversation.

Admittedly, you can’t call everyone who manifests these signs a troll. Some people are simply argumentative. Trolls stand out because of their persistence. Also, they say things that either don’t make sense or don’t fit the conversation.

For example, someone enters a cheerful discussion about an exciting Hollywood release to accuse you of bigotry because of your name.  It is hard to say why trolls do what they do. Some trolls only attack successful people, which points to bitterness. Others are merely insecure, which compels them to target seemingly happy online users. You also have a few that act out of boredom.

Regardless of the reasons, most trolls want attention, so naturally, you can’t afford to feed them. Try to understand that trolls don’t believe the things they say. Don’t let the seemingly targeted insults fool you.

Despite everything their words may suggest, they don’t hate you. Trolls are trying to bait you into an argument. Therefore, you must ignore them at all costs.

Don’t respond to comments that are clearly trying to push your buttons. Skip over them and respond to the comments you actually like.
If you have the power (for instance, if they leave comments on your YouTube video or social media content), delete their comments before other people take their bait.

Some trolls persist. They will continue invading your online spaces until you block them. If that is not an option, report the troll. It does not take these individuals long to cross the line. Once they type that first personal insult, they have given you all the ammo you need to get them banned by the social media platform.

And if they resort to threats, take screenshots and contact the police. The internet creates spaces that allow us to celebrate our favourite fandoms. Don’t allow these silly individuals to ruin your fun.

Source: The Observer

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