Happy Halloween! It's a night for ghosts, goblins and even trolls. But for bloggers, we encounter internet trolls year 'round, not just on Halloween. Today I'm starting a weekly series talking about how to deal with them, the time I was almost one, and my interview with a former troll, as well as any other topics you'd like to discuss. First up, how to deal with internet trolls. When I spoke on a panel recently, I was asked this, and now I'm sharing my thoughts with you.
"Ew. Your ugly."
Ah yes, the mean comment...and it's usually misspelled, like the one above, isn't it? You're ugly, you mean! If you've been blogging long enough, the internet trolls will pop up at some point. And y'all, it freaking SUCKS. I don't know how else to put it. It immediately makes me get hot in the face and it makes me feel awful.
I've been blogging for 6 years here but have had an online presence as a blogger for double that, and I've been on the internet for over 20 (I still have a Hotmail account I use from 1996, lol). And it's gotten worse over the years with the negativity. I blame insecurities from the troll commenters. Sometimes I wonder if celeb gossip blogs cultivated this somehow (remember how mean Perez Hilton used to be)? But I really think none of this really started until bloggers started getting freebies and making money, at least in my observation. Rude people have always been around, but that's when I saw them start to crop up in the comments. I've even asked top bloggers for advice on how they deal with it, and I've come to the same conclusions they have. Here's how I deal with it:
Take a breather
This is 1000% easier said than done, trust me. Whenever I see a comment, I immediately want to clap back and fire off a comment defending myself. Mean comments hurt. But I highly suggest taking a breather. Step away from the technology. Yes, you will think about what was said. Yes, it might fester and yes it might fade away. It really depends on your personality and what was said. But try to do something else to take your mind off of the comment. Just for a bit--then maybe craft a response. Sometimes it's better to delete and block. Sometimes it's easier to let your supporters hash it out in the comments section for you. It all depends.
I've found a lot of my negative comments are from first time visitors. What a way to make an entrance, right? Ugh. So that means they saw something via a web search, Pinterest, or my Youtube and made a judgment. They have no idea who I am or know anything about me. I remind myself that if they knew me, they'd probably like me. It's their loss, but really, who wants to be a friend with a person like that anyway? Good riddance! Sometimes I've had trolls who've stuck around (they obviously have no life) but eventually they'll leave.
Don't feed the trolls
I have found that a lot of negative comments are made for attention--this is more from Youtube or Pinterest where you can't be anonymous. The troll likes the argument. It makes the person feel noticed. They want you to respond. They want to get under your skin. While the first response it to say something, sometimes just deleting and moving on is best. Don't give them the attention. Don't feed the trolls.
It's not you, it's them
I admit it. There have been situations where I have responded to negative comments, like for clarification of something. Sometimes I have sort of befriended those Negative Nancy's, and y'all, they aren't happy. They are projecting that unhappiness onto you, to hurt you and make you feel unhappy. And to make themselves feel better. Sometimes they are jealous that you had an experience they didn't have (earning money, free products, viewers, etc). Some people don't like confidence. It breaks my heart that there are people who don't want me to succeed. But it's not me, it's them.
On a scary note
I generally don't respond to negative comments because of a scary experience someone else had. I know a writer who defended her column in the comments once. She is a tough gal who always sticks up for herself and she wasn't having it! After much arguing, the troll found out who her boss was and then proceeded to email her boss all of these crazy stories about the writer that weren't even close to being true. The troll wanted her fired. He found out where she lived. He posted ridiculous stories on internet boards about her to kind of drum up hate. The troll began to harass the writer and she eventually had to get the police involved. People are crazy, y'all.
It gets easier
I have comment approval for posts that are older than 30 days. There was a point where I'd get anxiety every single time I'd check my blog stats because I was worried I'd see a comment waiting to be approved--because every time that happened, I knew it was a negative comment. Youtube really gave me such anxiety that I didn't check my comments for months. I don't have as much of an audience there, so my videos are found through searches. And I believe YT has the MEANEST comment section of any social platform. My heart goes out those who have tons of followers and the crap they have to deal with.
But there is something positive! Unfortunately, the more mean comments you get, the more you realize that it really isn't you, it's them. The mean comments don't hurt as much as the first few. Some of them I read to my friends and laugh them off. Just this weekend I had a few comments that still sting but I don't get that anxiety and sadness anymore. It gets easier. And I'm always here if you need to talk about it.
How do you deal with internet trolls?
This is part one of a series, so let me know if there are other things on this topic you'd like to discuss.
I can't believe October is almost over! My weekend was just as fast. I got my hair done, did a little shopping, but felt so crummy from sinuses that I stayed in. Tonight: Halloween party!