Trolls can often be an issue for RLSH, mainly during the start of training or getting out there socially. They can be serious time and energy wasters if handled incorrectly, so it’s important to be able to deal with them effectively and swiftly so that you can keep focusing on what’s really important. Trolls HATE what I’m going to explain to you.
Identifying trolls, is that a troll?
According to the Oxford dictionary, to troll is to “make a deliberately offensive or provocative online post with the aim of upsetting someone or eliciting an angry response from them.”. So, what you want to look at is the person's actions. Are they acting in bad faith and trying to upset you on purpose?
You also want to be careful to not sweep everything that makes you upset under the “trolling” label. Some people are acting in good faith and have your best interests at heart, and so may say something as a suggestion with the aim of helping you improve, but it hurts. It’s not always fun to be told you’re wrong about something. What matters is how they approach you regarding the issue, and then how you take it from there.
Regardless, if someone gives you a critique, it’s nearly always a good idea to think about if they might be correct. Not everyone will see things the way you do, and sometimes there’s something you missed that someone with more experience in that area can help you with. You just have to have an open mind and be able to set your ego aside. I’ve learned some good lessons from all kinds of people. You just have to be able to separate facts from feelings long enough to determine if it’s true or not. Now that does not count in regards to personal attacks, like someone saying “so and so is evil I hate them they are ugly and should quit RLSH forever!!!”. This is about stuff like “Hey, you could really get hurt doing X, I suggest Y instead”, or “I really disagree with you about XYZ”, and even if they’re wrong, you should be able to have a conversation with the person about it without it getting toxic. But if they are purposefully trying to upset you, it’s best to ignore them and not give them any sort of reaction.
Look at what’s being said, and if it’s being said in good faith, or bad faith. Are they trying to help you get better, or are they trying to hurt and upset you so you react and lash out?
How to report the different types of trolls and where
You should generally report any bullying or harassment through the proper channels. If the person is doing it to you, they’re likely doing it to other people as well. You should report it on the platform it’s happening on so that they know that something is going wrong. More reports from everyone being affected means something will be done faster. Also, be sure that it’s actual bullying and harassment before reporting so that you don’t get slammed for a false report. You should be able to tell the difference at this point of the guide so I won’t rehash it.
Now, if it’s starting to cross over into the real world or into criminal territory, it’s time to not just report it on the platform being used, but to the proper authorities. This includes things like harassing phone calls, your address and phone number being posted, viable threats against you, and sexual harassment. Contrary to what some folks may think, hiding behind the internet and a username will not keep you anonymous, and it won’t hide where you are. Law Enforcement can get a warrant and contact the platform this is occurring on and get all kinds of data, including GPS tracking and billing information depending on the platform and any purchases made. That will enable them to find the person and handle them much better than you can by your own investigation in most cases. I’m providing a link here with some information on how to report these things.
One example of that happening is back in 2011, someone named Cloud Starchaser - on the run from authorities after stalking Ivanka Trump - uploaded an “apology” video to YouTube from an Apple Store in Los Angeles, California. Law Enforcement was able to track him down from that video and made an arrest.
Nearly every social media platform has ways to make it less likely for you to be bothered by trolls. On Instagram for example, you have the ability to make your profile private and people have to request to follow you, allowing you to vet them by checking out their profile before they’re able to interact fully.
On YouTube, I recommend turning on Comment Approval as default in your channel settings. But with this, you’re able to see the comments before they appear on your channel, allowing you to prevent your video from being used as a platform for abuse and hate.
What Not To Do
Don’t feed the troll. This includes arguing with the troll, publicly going and talking smack about the troll, and especially doing something like trying to challenge the troll to a fight. Also, don’t do things like send people to attack the troll, or using IP logging links (those can actually get you banned for doxxing on a number of platforms, and contrary to popular belief, will NOT get you the person’s address). These sorts of things will make you look like a negative angry person just like the troll is, and if you go too far, will cause you to possibly end up in legal trouble. This is often another goal the troll has regarding their targets: to make YOU look like the bad one while they play the victim instead.
A Personal Example
About nine or ten years ago, there was a group of RLSV that was run by a puppet. He was a very good troll and had fun getting a rise out of people and making mean-spirited YouTube videos and Facebook posts. I had gotten caught up in the entire thing, and eventually, I wound up threatening to shove a puppet into a blender. As you can imagine, that’s completely ridiculous and solves nothing. Who the hell threatens a puppet? I wasted a decent chunk of my time and energy on a fictional character, which encouraged that character to keep trying to bother me. It didn’t stop being a problem until I realized what was happening and how I was being played like a fool and blocked him. I blocked all the accounts that were trolling and started focusing on other things. It wasn’t long before everyone else did the same, and the puppet and his group became entirely irrelevant. Barely anyone remembers him now. As you can see, blocking and ignoring was very effective in this case, while arguing and interacting was not. This is a recurring pattern that I’ve seen countless times as an RLSH, and that’s why I’m explaining it to you now, so you don’t have to make the same mistakes people have in the past.
Let your actions speak louder than your words. What you do, what you accomplish, that’s what is really important. That’s what matters at the end of the day, and what will be remembered on your deathbed and at your funeral. Be the kind of person that if people hear a rumor or hateful comment about you, they will know with confidence the kind of person you actually are, and disregard what they hear. Who you are is reflected in your actions.