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.
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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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