Anyone who has a blog will be familiar with Trolls. Those nasty, spiky little comments placed always by ‘Anonymous’ that don’t add anything whatsoever to the post but are just random insults or derogatory – often very personal – snipes. I’m intrigued by their motivation. After all, reading blogs isn’t compulsory and there are enough blogs that if they don’t like one, they can quickly find one that does resonate with them in a more satisfactory way.
My policy has always been to publish anything other than spam, so whether it’s good, bad or ugly, every voice is heard. And sometimes the comments are hard to take, but I’d far rather operate an open and honest policy even if some are deeply critical than use a selective comment process. My blog isn’t quite the vanity project it might appear! But, these days, I’m wise enough not to feed the attention seeking behaviour of Trolls and just ignore them completely with a zero reaction. I’m guessing that not rewarding the behaviour by getting into a comment-conversation means they won’t get any warped satisfaction.
More and more, I’m seeing comments on Twitter from people who find trolls really very upsetting. Personal digs, such as ‘OMG you are FUGLY’ (oh, but so 2004, originating on Mean Girls)…yes, it’s funny, but it isn’t really, when someone has been brave enough to put their picture up. A blog by its very nature does invite all-comers and has to be open to criticism, but it’s my thinking that Trolls are a whole different thing to commenters who genuinely don’t like a certain look or have a vastly differing opinion.
So, what makes these spiteful people tick? I asked Behavioural Psychologist,
Jo Hemmings (http://www.celebritypsychologist.co.uk/), what goes on inside the head of a Troll. Jo is also C4’s Big Brother’s Little Brother Behavioural Psychologist and an established Dating Coach and Relationship Expert who writes regularly for national press and has made many TV appearances.
Why Trolls Troll
“Put simply, it’s a mixture of envy and insecurity,” says Jo. “These people are actively looking to cause others difficulty or hurt, and it’s most likely to be that they suffer from a very poor self image. People with poor self image are very often full of anger and one of the ways to improve their perceived worth is to exact their own form of secretive revenge, hence the anonymity.”
What To Do
Jo’s advice is to completely ignore them. “If you engage with them, you are actually giving the very thing they seek; notoriety. If you don’t give them any attention and dismiss the comments as not worth talking about, the anonymous comments may escalate for a while, but eventually there is nothing feeding the need so they’ll search elsewhere. No reaction, no fun.”
It’s All About Them, Not Us
Jo continues, “They basically want to have what you have, or to be in your position and don’t feel they have it in them to achieve it, and are unable to feel happy for you. The internet (previously, the same kind of person would make hoax phone calls) does mean that you see the dark side of some people who can’t resolve their own feelings.”
So, having gathered an expert opinion, there’s a part of me that feels sorry for Trolls. Being bitter, insecure and attention seeking is exhausting, demoralising and, well, just a shame, really. I’m well aware that this post is probably going to be like a red rag to a bull, but my finger is hovering over the delete button, because there’s no more Trolling on BBB.
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Great post as usual. Ignoring is of course the logical and sensible and obvious answer, human nature doesn’t make this easy though. When someone calls you a “wrinkled old bitch” for example, (and yes troll, I know you’ll read this, and yes we all know who you are), it’s hard to ignore. Because what you actually what you want to say is F**k Off.
I knew as soon as I started blogging I would have to be prepared for the ‘hurtful’ comments so I never had a problem with that. I can very easily look past it, even on a bad day! I do hate trolls for the simple fact that others do get VERY upset when they get rude comments from others though and sometimes totally stop blogging because of it 🙁 Ignoring and deleting comments are the way to go!
Ps. Love the physcological insight to this post!
That night on twitter when I was attacked on Formsprings, I fed right into the trolls hands. It was stupid of me, but I did and it ended up getting much worse.
You’re so right, ignoring them is the best course of action. Have a cheeky smile too, because they are only jealous!
The hardest thing to to really believe that it’s about them, not you. You can know that that’s true, but it can still be hurtful when someone makes a really rude or mean comment.
When it has happened to me, I try to see it as spam. It’s not personal, it’s just what this person (annoyingly) does on the internet. Troll comments have a definite tone to them, and I just delete them.
I have no problem whatsoever with constructive critical comments – one of my favourite readers will *always* tell me if she doesn’t like a particular colour, but it’s never mean or nasty.
Thank you for this post – I think it helps to shrug it off to know that so many of us seem to get these comments occasionally!
Great post! So far I have been lucky not to have had any negativity but I totally agree that ignoring it is the way to go. As a blogger you need to expect some negative feedback but the people who say nasty and spiteful things for the sake of it are not worth getting upset over. xxx
I’m lucky enough not to have had any trolls yet – in fact I’ve not even considered it! I will ignore them if they appear – good advice! x
It’s spiteful and as your post says it’s more about their own insecurities than it is about anything that you have written on your blog. You could have said “the sky is blue” and they would still find something negative to say. I have read negative comments on my site and have been bullied publicly on twitter – the best way to react is actually not to and not feed their egos by letting it upset you.
A blog is a personal opinion, that’s why you do it and it’s what makes them so interesting and thought provoking. So don’t let the silly little trolls put you off!
I understand the trolls’ insecurities yet I don’t understand how negativity can make their lives feel better than they are. I see the meanest comments under the news articles.
I have been lucky not to be trolled yet I have to attribute that to the paper bag over my face.
Twitter is different though, I get heckled by teens who are REALLY serious about their idols. Say one bad thing about them and they attack you like fire ants!
I’ve not had any trolls yet, but I’ve seen a few bloggers complain and I feel its really sad that that some bitter person has the time to make horrible comments over someone else’s hard work.
I was always taught that if you don’t have something nice to say,then keep you mouth shut.
You are right that its a serious case of green eye’d monsters and they are best left ignored.
Hey BBB, I’ll second what Krista said and also echo your post. You articulate this incredibly well, well done. Before Starting sartorialmale.com my blog was henrysopinion.com, I had some media coverage in newspapers etc and from this received some, horrendous emails/comments, bordering on severe aggression. Don’t be intimidated and don’t take it personally, these cowards are simply not worth it! Great blog, your traffic stats and reader loyalty speak for themselves. Keep up the good work. The politics of the web hey!
I’ve been fortunate that in the 5 years I’ve been blogging that I’ve had very few troll-ish comments. I’ve had a couple on You Tube, but I’m cool with just ignoring or deleting the comment because in my experience the bunfights often start when someone else tries to defend the person who is the target of the nastiness.
I’m happy to take constructive criticism (and would welcome it, I think it’s the best way to learn) but if someone is just out to slag me off I’m not interested.
I had my first troll comment today.. I couldn’t believe my eyes. It was so personal, spiteful and vicious. I’ve never known anything like it! It wasn’t just a few words either… they’d really gone for it. Of course I just rejected the comment and didn’t reply.
However, I couldn’t stop thinking about it all day and what kind of person this person must be like in real life. I can’t think of one person who has that sort of bitter personality! Perhaps they’re some sort of hermit who only interacts anonymously through the internet?
They even mentioned a few of my other blog posts so they’d actually taken the time to read quite a bit of blog and then to comment. That is what I can’t understand if they really dislike me enough to feel that way, why spend so much time on my blog? *rolls eyes*
Well, as many of my fellow bloggers will know I’ve been subjected to what I can only class as ‘bullying’ from other ‘anonymous’ bloggers. I’ve had the ‘whore’, ‘ugly’ and ‘slut’ comments from people who most likely genuinely didn’t know me but the comments that hurt the most were from other ‘anonymous’ bloggers who made out like everyone on the blogging circuit who knew me were talking about me. I just couldn’t believe people could be so petty, as until then I had never bitched about another blogger. Unfortunately since then, I had to re-think who my real blogger friends were and which ones I can and can’t trust. It’s a shame they’ve made the blogging scene so horrible and filled with suspicion, but their bitchiness and jealousy has ruined it for everyone.
I will say one other thing though, next time someone wants to comment spitefully on my blog (btw, anonoymous’ can’t anymore, I’ve blocked ’em), I won’t respond or even allow their comment to stay up there. They’re pathetic and I actually feel sorry for them that they spend their time writing jealous, horrible comments on other peoples blogs in a bid to make themselves feel better. Like seriously, get a life. Then maybe then you won’t be jealous of or so closely monitoring mine.
I love your blog, it’s probably the first blog I found when I decided I wanted to write one too, and I’ve learnt alot reading through your many posts so thank you 🙂 (p.s it was me on twitter! I’m nav! lol)
In terms of troll comments, I’ve seen them on other people’s blogs and I do think how pathetic the troll is. I also think you’ve spoken about it in a very calm and intelligent manner, and for that well done.
I look forward to more posts <3
nav 🙂 x
Thank you for sharing this. I always assumed it was because they were nasty, mean, spiteful, petty people, but never really thought about the fact that they may also be insecure.
Thank you so much for your advice. I started a (non-makeup) blog last week, inspired by your hard work and useful information, and haven’t encountered this problem yet. Now I will know how to handle it 🙂
I wonder whether there is a programme where trolls are allowed to type in as much comment as they like, then when they hit the publish your comment button, some messages like “error”, “fail to sent message,please try again” come up.
That will drives them nuts.
Great post and really wise words!
Great post – I’ve often wished I could have the opportunity to sit down and talk to a troll: not in a confrontational/angry way, just in a totally honest way, because I’m fascinated by what makes them tick, and what they actually get out of you.
I totally agree that ignoring them is by far the best tactic, but I have to admit that I do often find online comments very hurtful: people constantly tell me I need to get a thicker skin, but it’s easier said than done. (Ooh! Excellent new skincare product idea: Skin Thickener, especially for bloggers! Am off to trademark that as soon as I finish typing this :))
These days I must admit I do delete and ban people who seem to be deliberately trolling: I’m all for open discussion, and I obviously have no problem at all with dissenting opinions, but comments that just say, “You’re ugly” or whatever don’t add anything to the discussion, and just turn the comments section into a bunfight: one thing I’ve noticed is that even if I ignore the troll, my readers will often jump to my defence (bless them!), so the troll does end up getting the attention she wants, and has a reason to come back. I like to cut them off at the source 🙂
I was the recipient of the aforementioned “fugly” comment. I am well aware that the internet is not always a waem, fluffy place, and that by putting myself out there, anyone can see what I am doing and respond as they see fit. However…
My personal favourite is when the “Anoymous” prefers to go by another name when leaving a comment. I’ve had messages from trolls named “A Good Friend”, “Doing You A Favour” and “Just Saying What Everyone Else Is Thinking”. Lovely.
What do they expect in return? A post from me saying “Do you know what, you fabulous little troll? Your comment has made me see the light. I AM disgusting and I AM fugly and I will therefore be abandoning this blog post haste rather than inflict my evil self on you any more. Thankyou for pointing out the error of my ways”.
I’ve seen worse and more hateful comments on YouTube than on the blog, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt. I’ve been called disgusting, ugly and (probably worst of all!) unfunny and boring.
Originally I thought I would publish all comments as I didnt want the troll to think I was scared of them or impacted by them but now I am going to delete them all. I dont want my readers, or the companies I work with to have to see this drivel.
Thanks BBB x
I think the obvious reason that trolls exist is that they are jealous of all the successful, attractive, younger and older women out there who have blogs. It’s much easier to slag someone off than actually send an email or comment asking for help with an eyeshadow application or advice on foundation. I admire makeup bloggers for showing off all their hard work on getting a look just right so that others can learn how to do it for themselves. Keep up the good work ladies/gents!
Another psychological term for this is “leveling”, which is just another way of saying these people tear you down to their level out of insecurity and envy. It is, indeed, a sad thing to watch occur. I’ve been fortunate thus far with my own blog to not experience this to any great degree. What I do experience is another form of aggravation with spam comments – the ones written in Asian graphics that are advertisements for porn or pharmaceutical websites. Once they hit your blog, it’s like an annoying rash that won’t go away. I am constantly deleting these posts from every single blog article I publish.
The troll comments are unfortunate, as they waste everyone’s time. I believe in free speech and realize that what I write may invite opposing views and comments, and I’m okay with that. If, however, it crosses into the territory of being disrespectful, I immediately delete and block those people. Life is too short to engage in such nonsense! Stick to your truth, Jo – you’re providing a wonderful service with your blog that the majority of the world truly appreciates!
It’s very interesting reading this article and reading the comments. I would say that I am my own worst enemy when it comes to trolls. I agree that ignoring them, as everyone seems to say, is the best way, but I am way too sensitive to ignore them, and I try to adapt to their expectations. When I want to appear professional and informative, I am called ‘pretentious’, and when I tone it down to a casual attitude, I’m ‘unprofessional’. I’ve learned that taking comments to heart, even good ones, is much less important than sticking with your original gut feeling.
Such a wonderful and thought provoking post! Such wonderful and thoughtful comments!! You are an intrepid group of women who have managed to befriend hundreds and, in some cases, thousands of readers by sharing your interests via your blogs. The positive way in which you connect with other people is something the trolls simply can’t do. They are blighted spirits who can only feel good about themselves when they are putting others down. God bless the delete button!
Trolls are like fire – don’t feed them so deny them oxygen (or a space for their vitriol on your blog) and hey presto, they die.
For some reason people think that every space on the internet is a forum for them to vent, but, well actually – it’s not.
Privately-owned websites can publish or delete as they see fit, they have no public service remit, which trolls never ever seem to understand.
The self-entitlement online is absolutely staggering. The way people think they can complain, bitch and moan about services that are entirely free to them to use is actually beyond belief.
So wonderfully said!! Keep rocking the blog world!
As a new beauty blogger, this post really helped open my eyes. In my naivety, I had never considered that other people online could be so spiteful and take such pleasure in personal attacks on others.
Your post has really helped highlight the issue and most importantly, let people realise that it is a common occurance, no one is exempt. I am sure this post will offer some comfort to many who have already been subjected to trolls and help to prepare the rest of us for when they do inevitably raise their ugly heads!