As a child, I grew up with significant Norwegian influences around me. One of the great stories my grandmother told me was about the Three Billy Goats Gruff and the great troll that lived under the bridge. He would wait until a passerby began to cross over and then jump out to eat them when they least expected it. Even today, when walking over a bridge, I am careful to check the dark places underneath before crossing, just to be sure. Unfortunately, on line and in real life, there are trolls who can catch us by surprise by causing disruption and pain with messages that provoke us and threaten to eat us alive, or damage our integrity and reputation. A troll will purposefully sow discord by starting arguments with inflammatory or irrelevant communications, usually by posts, texts, email, in chat rooms on line or in accusations. Their intention is to provoke you to respond in anger and to disrupt focus. They are a nasty distraction and a grief to businesses and families.
Here are 10 tips for making sure the trolls go away hungry.
If it’s true, correct it. If what is said is true, it’s not from the mouth of trolls. Fix the situation, apologize, and publically communicate how you fixed it. Humility wins over pride every time.
If it’s false forget it. Our first reaction is often to jump in and confront untruths while angry. Step away. Sometimes it is better to keep your mouth wisely closed and make them wonder rather than open it and leave no doubt of stupidity.
Get counsel. This can be a wise mentor or a lawyer depending on the severity of the trolling. Harassment is a legal term used for trolls who step outside the legal behavioral lines, so if you have someone who is a threat to you, your family or your business, get legal counsel before responding.
Haters Gonna Hate. Often, it is best to just disregard hostile remarks. By participating in an answer you will look just as ugly as they do.
Block’em Baby. It is your sandbox and you get to choose who plays in it. If the troll is on your property, page, site, etc… you have the right to choose the content and players. Feel free to unfriend, block or report to a site administrator if someone is truly abusive.
Be Funny. A picture is worth a 1000 words and may alert others in a fun way to troll behaviors. Insert a troll photo...no words, just the photo.
Disagreement does not equal Trolling. Remember it takes all kinds to make a world and everyone doesn’t think like you. Just because they don’t doesn’t make them a troll.
Don’t click on Malicious Links. Cyber spammers are known for inserting risky links for you to fall victim to. Never click on a troller’s post.
Don’t be Dumb. The stupid quotient of Trolls is quite high…and they are not looking for intelligent debate. Be smarter by not participating.
You have to Pay to Play. Understand that by choosing to play on line, you will always be at risk for a troll or a weirdo to enter in on your territory. That doesn’t mean they get to stay. We pay the price for being in public, and we also have the power to choose what is publicized on our own platforms.
In Three Billy Goats Gruff, the troll is finally kicked off the bridge, left hungry, and everyone lives happily ever after, but not without some scuffles along the way. The next time you read something that causes your blood to boil, pause and assess before you join in the conversation and don’t be quick to retaliate. Trolls will always live under the bridge and try to catch you by surprise