If you saw The Hobbit in theaters or ever read “Three Billy Goats Gruff” when you were a kid, you’re familiar with these creatures of myth: big, gluttonous oafs with a mean streak and a penchant for eating kids of both the human and goat variety. Even though they don’t live under bridges or eat people, trolls are very real and very present, and you may have dealt with one without even knowing it.
Although there are many kinds of trolls, Internet Trolls are everywhere. They lurk online, leaving obnoxious or uncalled-for remarks anywhere they can make a post. One tell-tale sign that you may be dealing with a troll is poor spelling and grammar, but that’s just aesthetic: it’s all about the content. Like a troll guarding a bridge, their sole purpose is to devour you.
Internet Trolls are adept at pushing buttons. It’s a hobby to them, like knitting, but meaner. The simplest way they do this is with name-calling. Nothing says “You’re stupid” like saying “You’re stupid.” Some trolls get downright cruel with their language just to see how far they can go, and they always play the devil’s advocate–it doesn’t matter the topic. If the topic is the Red Sox, trolls will spew Yankees spirit all over the comments or thread just to incite a riot. Some trolls are one-uppers, so it’s not about an argument with them–they just want you to know that they are better than you. Everything is black and white to a troll, wrong or right, and they are always right.
DO NOT ENGAGE TROLLS IN CONVERSATION.
They are volatile and have a primal need to always get in the final word. You will find yourself pulling out your hair and screaming at the computer if you try to reason with one. If you get the urge to take their bait, stop. Take a deep breath. Look at pictures of kittens. Remember that there is no reasoning with a troll, there is no winning. If a troll is being particularly abusive or threatening, contact the people who run the website to report it. The only way to fight a troll is with silence: don’t acknowledge it at all, or if you feel the need, get the website to silence it. Even though Internet Trolls plague our favorite websites, recognizing them for what they are is half the battle. The other half is sheer willpower.