We encounter them ever day. Trolls. In many cases, they’re not even online, they’re in real life. I’ll cover that here too.
Now, let me make a clear distinction. Not everyone who disagrees is a troll. Someone who has a reasoned and informed argument, willing to discuss vital points on a subject is not a troll. A troll is a person who uses emotional, misinformed arguments, insults and personal attacks as a basis for their opposition. They are absolutely closed to listening or discussing facts, verifiable proof or anything that does not align with their own viewpoint. Most often, their actual goal is merely dissension and division.
One of the favorite tools of a troll is invalidation. Any verifiable source of information which you offer is immediately rejected as untrustworthy. Yet when asked for their own proof, they respond with more insults, personal attacks, vague ad homenem (already debunked) arguments or links to articles containing opinions or “unnamed anonymous sources offering no evidence” being presented as fact. One of my favorites is, “Well, if you don’t understand it, I’m not going to explain it to you!” Obviously, they never matured beyond elementary school.
So, why do they act this way and how should we really respond to them?
The first thing to understand is that this is their mindset. Not just with you. They are literally addicted to anger/hate/fear/conflict. Those negative emotions incite the exact same chemical processes in the brain as meth use.
Trolls have favorite web sites, social media pages and personalities which they target on a frequent basis. One social media page which attracts a LOT of trolls is RT. You see the same trolls in the comment section on a near daily basis.
So, what to do? Here is an example of what I have written many times in some form to trolls. This calls them out on their behavior directly and exposes it for what it truly is.
It is obvious you do not agree with this view/subject/source. So why are you here? What is your goal?
You obviously do not care to listen to an opposing view or discuss anything in a reasonable adult manner.
You use insults and attacks, no verifiable proof to back up your own view. Any source which is offered, you reject.
I suspect that you are addicted to anger/hate/fear/division. You do not merely react to it, you actively seek it out. Not just now but every day, multiple times a day. You go from one page to another trying to incite conflict. There is the very good chance that you do the same thing with your personal life. Even among those whom you agree, it does not take long for you to find disagreement.
How many years has your life been like this?
The worst part is that you are fully aware of it. You do nothing to change it. Very much the opposite, you revel in it.
I ask again, in a more general sense: What is your goal?
Are you seeking some form of validation? Considering your behavior, I cannot offer that. I do not reward such behavior.
Do you lack self esteem? Are you trying to prove your superiority? You cannot do that by driving people away from you.
Are you seeking attention? If you cannot treat others with respect, believe me when I say you will be ignored.
Your behavior is a conscious choice. You make that choice every day, numerous times a day. Yet you use your time to seek out conflict in some form. You build nothing, repair nothing.
What a pathetic way to live. But it is your choice. Not mine. You can change that choice, it’s in your power. If you continue with the same choice, then I will have nothing to do with it. I will not enable your addiction.
From that point, if that person continues with the same behavior, I block them. That takes away any distorted reward they may perceive in their mind and prevents me from having to deal with them again.
When we really pay attention to the trolls, they do not focus on one issue/person/group. They truly do have a wide range of these which they attack. Most often they are prejudiced in some form, often in many forms. They approach all subjects from a stance of aggression. Pro-military, pro-war, pro-assault weapon, etc. They have no other tools in their emotional toolbox and no desire to develop any other social skills.
We truly need to share the awareness of this behavior as an addiction. Because it has become widespread and entirely common. Feel free to copy and save the above statement to use as a response or use similar wording to the same effect. If we spread awareness enough, it can become a movement. Once it becomes a movement, it can be shortened to key words and/or memes.
I have no doubt at all that this very article will gain responses from those trolls it addresses. Pay attention to their responses because the responses will fit the description almost to the letter. I am always open to opposing views based on reason, logic, evidence and humanitarian ethics. Trolls? I block. I refuse to give them a voice. You should deny them that voice as well. Isolate them like the disease they are. Eventually, they will have nobody to attack but each other.