Hate is on the rise and if any proof was necessary, just take a look at those who occupy places of power. The average social media user encounters negative content on a daily basis and this increase in negativity can be attributed to many things. Dealing with the underlying reasons for the rise in ‘trolling’ is not an easy task, this is a bigger issue that requires a united effort but what can indivduals do to preserve their dignity when the trolls launch an offensive?
Why Is ‘Trolling’ So Popular?
The following excerpt from Pam Ramsden’s article for The Conversation ‘Internet’s cloak of invisibility: how trolls are made‘ sums up the popularity of trolling perfectly:
Research into the motivation for this type of behaviour is limited, even though trolling is a widespread and a well-known phenomenon on social media. Factors believed to be motivating the behaviour include craving attention from others, seeking pleasure from causing others pain, boredom and revenge. What is clear is that trolls want to cause chaos and havoc in public discussions and their intention is to humiliate anyone who attempts to strike back.
The writer raises a number of relevant points on trolling in the same article. One point that is observable by all is the ‘invisibility’ effect. Barriers are lowered online and one of the unfortunate results of wide spread access to the internet is the ability for anyone from pretty much anywhere in the world to verbally abuse and insult others. The difference between trolling and cyber bulying is a very subtle one. Cyber bullys tend to be children and teenagers with access to the internet whereas trolls tend to be adults but what what cyber bullys and trolls do is interchangable.
How To Deal With Cyber Bullys And Trolls
In both instances, things can quickly escalate from what might be seen as ‘banter’ to hateful abuse, threats and derogatory insults aimed at specific people. Because troling is a new phenomenon, the science of understanding and tackling it is also new with no real solutions to date. A few suggestions are offered here that might help if you have experienced trolling or know people who are experiencing it:
The ‘troll’ or ‘trolls’ promote myopic and aggresive views online because they don’t feel brave enough to do so in real life. In reality, such people need help but can only get help when they open up to it.
People don’t like to be wrong about anything. When they are called out, they will leap to their defense (as do their friends) and gang up on the person trying to call out their fake facts. Try not to feel bad if this happens and disengage from the debate.
Use your social media settings to filter out negative content. It’s natural to feel anoyance and discomfort when you see something inapropriate but filtering it out doesn’t mean you are ignoring it. It just means you want to choose more positive ways to deal with an issue that concerns you be it racism, bigotry or something similiar.
It’s important to accept that very little if anything is achieved through clashing with other social media users. If your friends prove to be toxic on social media, filter them out. Seek out positive and proactive means of activism such as sharing positive news, petitions and content that calls for unified action in a sensible manner.
Sadly, we live in an age where racism, body shaming and other forms of ignorance are on the rise. It’s important to accept who you are even if others don’t. Their words do not make you the person you are, you do. All human beings have the same value and worth regardless of size, colour, language or any other distinctive trait. There is no justification whatsoever for the vile and hurtful things people say but one lesson can be learnt and that is how not to to be as a person. It may sound like a cliche but it is true- you can learn how to be a good person by observing bad people and choosing not to be like them. This will help you appreciate your self worth, preserve your diginity and feel better about yourself at the same. Don’t let the trolls and cyber bullys bite.