Trolls are Not to be Fed: 4 Tips to Handle Trolls on Social Media
Are you familiar with the term clapback? It’s usually written like that but I’ve also seen the word or phrase being written with a space, clap back. Anyway, it’s one of those words that while not exactly being born online, is one that was popularized by social media interactions. Basically, a clapback is when someone hits at you online and then you hit them back so hard that they are rendered incapable of responding. Merriam-Webster has a completely fascinating in-depth explanation on the world that I urge you to read.
Anyway, the reason I’m bringing this up is because there are very few things you can see internet that’s better than a good clapback. Anyone who’s ever been online knows just how much the digital population is filled with trolls and haters, people whose sole existence is to constantly spew negative and hateful things thanks to the veil of anonymity the internet has given them. It’s honestly kind of sad but knowing how to deal with these kinds of people is something every business should learn if they want to have any online presence whatsoever.
Haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate
Most of the time, the absurdly funny things I see on my social media feed far outweighs the extremely vile and impressively ignorant stuff coming out of people’s mouths but every now and again, I see something that’s just downright appalling that I ended up depressed and I consider myself a pretty well-adjusted person. I was never the target of the typical online malice but I also read a lot of online comments and partake in quite a bit of online discussions so it’s fair to say I’m pretty well exposed to trolls.
If you’re wondering why I still insist on taking part in various online discourses even with all of these negativity floating around, I sometimes ask myself that exact same question. But really, the truth is, I’ve also been part of lively and highly illuminating discussions enough time to know that beneath all of that filth and name-calling, there’s always something brilliant just lurking around. There’s always a diamond in the rough, or so they say.
For businesses, this means that for every hate directed or you (or a dozen), there’s always some constructive criticism that you could actually use to move your business further in the right direction. As difficult as it is, completely shutting your business off to social media could result in missed opportunities, something that you probably wouldn’t want in a relatively tight economy. The solution then is to equip yourself with the necessary knowledge to be able to handle the unavoidable onslaught of trolls you’re going to see on your feed.
Come up with a witty comeback
This is the clapback I’ve mentioned at the beginning of this piece. Think about it, if they’re not going to take you seriously in the first place, why not do the same thing in return while simultaneously providing a good laugh for everybody else? Everyone appreciates a good clapback and doing this would show them that you’re bold enough to engage with someone who’s coming at you while at the same time smart enough to actually stoop down to their level. It’s pretty much a win-win situation.
Learn to grow a thick skin and ignore them
The oldest and most common refrain you’re going to see when it comes to advice in dealing with trolls is to not feed them and they’re right. Trolls are basically attention-seekers and most of the time; the best thing you could do is to not give them what they want. The thing is though, this can be pretty hard to do, especially if you’re a smug, self-righteous, know-it-all me. Sometimes, you just get the urge to tell these people just how wrong they are and I’m speaking from experience here when I tell you that it never ends well.
One other point of contention is that not all trolls are intellectually challenged people who speak with a limited mastery of English and a tendency for weird capitalization; some of them are actually intelligent people who just wanted to give everybody else a hard time. This one can be hard to detect and before you know it, you’ve already spent an entire afternoon before figuring out that this guy’s just trying to make fun of you.
Be Kind, Rewind
I don’t know if you’re familiar with American late-night talk shows but there’s been a tendency ever since Trump’s ascension where the hosts and the audience constantly belittle the President and the people around him. I mean, I pretty much disagree with everything he’s doing and how he’s doing it but even I get tired of the constant Trump-bashing. This is why when the comedian Sarah Silverman arrived with her own show, it felt like a literal breath of fresh air.
I’ve always liked Silverman but her talk show, I Love You, America is special because unlike her patronizing colleagues, she earnestly tries to connect with the kind of people that got Trump where he is right now. With the stark divide apparent in the world right now, genuine kindness is a bit of a rarity so showing that while you’re being showered with hatred over social media could kick them off their feet and could lead to some new admirers in the process.
Use facts and/or statistics to educate and correct them
Some people are simply ignorant and it’s in our best interest as those with the proper knowledge to lead them away from their ignorance. This tie in with the issue of kindness, it’s important that while you’re trying to educate these people, do it with compassion. No one likes a know-it-all and I’m saying that as a bit of a know-it-all myself so I know what I’m talking about. It’s important even in the face of adversity to always keep your cool and be objective. The truth always wins in the end.