How to slay online trolls

You watch a Youtube video of a celebrity who has come out as a transwoman, and you tear up feel moved by her struggle. You share it on your Facebook wall, knowing that your friends would be able to relate to the story. You go offline, and then, voila: you find a slew of hateful comments and fire-and-brimstone biblical passages on your post. You respond to these attacks with an appeal to reason, only to receive a fresh batch of religious quotes, warning you about turning into a pillar of salt.

To post LGBTI-related content on social media is to expose yourself to possible trolling. Trolls are users who post infuriating comments to hijack and disrupt online conversations and provoke arguments. Most of the time they hide behind anonymous accounts, but some users with real accounts also engage in trolling. You can either watch your post descend into hardcore trolling, making you waste your precious Facebook time, or you can start mastering these tips to slay trolls off your wall:

  1. Know how to spot a troll. Make sure it isn’t someone who is having a social media meltdown, or a stressed-out user venting frustrations online. Trolls can be identified by their hostile language; their aggressive drive to displease others; off-topic, irrational, and inaccurate comments; and in the case of LGBTI-related content, their homophobic and/or transphobic slurs.
  2. Do. not. feed. the. troll. They die of suffocation when ignored. Nothing can be more pleasurable than a troll bidding goodbye because he or she is being ignored while the conversation is continuing. Arguing with them is a waste of time because trolls are unlikely to stick to the topic, or engage productively. They would just repeat and rehash the points they have already made. By the time you realize you’ve wasted too much time dealing with trolls, you would know the real score: trolls = 10, you = 0.
  3. Be factual, or be humorous. When you are unsure if a user is a troll, keep your engagements to a minimum. Be short and sharp with your response. Answer with irrefutable facts. You can also use humor to silence a suspected troll (for example, respond to a Leviticus quote by asking the user if he’s the priest you were chatting with on Grindr). If your reply, however, elicits trolling and thus confirms that you are indeed facing a troll, step back, stop, and remember these words of wisdom: the hand that feeds the troll is the real loser.
  4. Block. It’s your online space, after all. If homophobic and transphobic trolling is getting in the way of fun, or if they are becoming abusive, you can always report and/or block the trolls.

Franchesca Ramsey takes a look at how we can all prevent trolls from ruining the conversation. 

Now you can continue wasting more time on Facebook, troll-free!