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How to tackle trolls on Twitter and elsewhere on the Internet

The Internet, and especially social networking websites like Twitter and Facebook, are full of trolls. You may also find them on blogs and online forums.

What/who are trolls?

The word “trolling” is literally derived from putting bait on a fishing hook and luring fish. The trolls on Twitter, Facebook, and blogs do the same thing. They try to bait you into needless discussion loops without having any purpose. They just want to irritate you, make you angry, make you feel attacked and threatened or even vulnerable.

You may also find trolls on YouTube as you must have observed some videos have very nasty and harsh comments on them. YouTube has a voting system and many trolls can be down-voted by other members. But this feature is not available on all the platforms.

Why do trolls exist?

You might as well ask why do psychopaths exist. Sometimes there are no tangible reasons for things to happen. Most of the trolls on Twitter and elsewhere are not dangerous. They simply don’t have anything better to do and as you very well know, an empty mind is the devil’s workshop. A sense of anonymity on the Internet makes it very easy to verbally target people and harass them. It’s very easy to open a Twitter account with a vague name, randomly picking up people and then replying to their tweets.

Types of trolls

Whereas most of the trolls are not very intelligent and informed, there might be some trolls who are pretty informed and socially, politically and literally aware. Such intelligent trolls simply want to confound you without any intention of adding value to an ongoing discussion. They will plant confusing information and then encourage you to respond. They also do this to obfuscate you and people participating in the discussion.

How to avoid or discourage trolls

The best way to discourage trolls is to ignore them. They thrive on your response and the more you respond, the more vigorously they begin to troll you. Once they know that it’s easy to provoke you, at every opportunity they fire salvos at you and disturb your peace of mind. So simply ignore them. If ignoring doesn’t dissuade them, then block them. Before blocking you may like to know that sometimes people become trolls temporarily. Not everybody is a permanent troll. As mentioned above, a troll needlessly pokes you and draws you into debates that have no meaning, and anybody can do that, even a person who otherwise engages in “normal” discussions everyday. If such is the case, simply ignore that person and he or she will get the clue.

Is it possible to ignore trolls always

As mentioned above, some trolls are not perpetual trolls. You may like to answer to them. Just don’t feel provoked. It may seem like a direct attack on you, but it is not. For an attack to be direct, a person needs to know you quite well. Maybe he or she doesn’t like your DP. Maybe he or she found your recent update irritating or offending. Or you totally contradicted his or her opinion using sound logic. Whatever is the reason, he or she may temporarily turn into a troll. There might also be political trolls out there to propagate a particular political ideology and they are going to attack you if you don’t share their ideology. In such situations, reply politely. If they contradict you, ask them, why they contradict you and what is their counter-opinion? If they sound offended, ask them in polite/formal language, what offended them? After that, if they keep going on and on, you can ignore them.