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What's Trolling on Social Media?

5 minutes read

- Written by Yubo Team

Troll emoji on Yubo, the Social Discovery app

Let’s be honest, despite being an extremely toxic behavior, trolling is harmful! Nowadays, everyone has crossed paths with a troll on social media, not only do they tend to be irritating, but what’s most impressive is their dedication to cruelty by creating drama and negativity online. You’ve probably wondered, how do these trolls find the time and energy to connect online and feel the need to purposely provoke or attack individuals. It’s difficult to understand their why, and sometimes, to detect it. Most trolls on social media do not have a precise purpose or plan, except for making sure they trap you into a conversation or situation you don’t want to be a part of.

What’s the typical behavior of a troll?

Trolling is essentially posting hateful or inappropriate content that targets others purposely or commenting virulently to someone else’s post. In most cases, trolling reaches a point where it can be considered as online bullying or harassment. They look to get a response, whether it’s forcing a reaction or emotionally affecting you, and then they keep pushing in that direction until it becomes impossible for you to not respond and engage into a never-ending and painful debate.

That type of behavior is difficult to combat and manage for social media platforms, governments and authorities as trolls create multiple accounts a week, jump from one to another with an obviously fake name and no location. For this reason, the trolls feel increasingly powerful and untouchable as they can’t be held accountable for their actions online.

Not all trolls are bad trolls though. Some are just trying to have some fun. They goof around and make jokes that don’t attack anyone. But, they still can be irritating for continuously spamming certain posts, by sharing hundreds of memes a day for instance. 

How can it affect your mental health?

Being confronted with trolls online every day can end up affecting your self-esteem and mental health, especially if you are directly targeted or criticized by a crowd. Indeed, another typical behavior is to act as a group. Repetition is what can make it unbearable for you to ignore and when it reaches a point where you can’t ignore it any further. Online hate is not only criticisms about your looks, choices or personality. Online hate can include hateful comments about race, religion, sexual orientation, disability, and everything that makes you “you”. 

Long term, it’s tricky to keep a distance mentally with negative and absurd comments. This type of online activity can result in depression, helplessness and anxiety for its victims. That’s why it’s so important not to let trolling last and to address it right away by an adult or specialists that can support you in dealing with the trolls and how you respond to them

There are many resources online, we provide some useful links on our website.

How to deal with trolls? 

There is no magical solution to remove trolling, of course, and most of the useful tips rely on you to follow them in order to deal with trolls efficiently. But there are a couple of things you can do to protect yourself from these behaviors.

First and foremost, and I know it seems easy to say, but just ignore them. Follow this famous quote, “Silence is better than unnecessary drama”. Don’t play their game, be better than them. The main fuel that feeds their harmful comments is your response. If you become a participant in the conversation, then they will see it as the perfect opportunity to ridicule you until you break. You can also help protect others. If everyone ignored the trolls, then, they would no longer have that entertainment value gained from trolling and they might consider investing their time into something else -- at least that’s our hope for the future.

Another tip is to find the right balance between monitoring your social media accounts to make sure it doesn’t escalate and knowing when to step away. When it becomes overwhelming, just close the app, put your phone away, talk to some of your friends, watch a Netflix show, take care of yourself until the wave of anxiety or potential anger has passed. The good thing about the internet is that there is such a flow of information and messages circulating every day that they will quickly jump into another drama starter and leave you alone. You can safely delete their comments, block them, and move on to a positive mindset right away. In addition, every social media has a support team you can report the trolls to, and of course, if you ever feel threatened, contact the police. 

Another useful thing to remember is that you can record or screenshot any negative comments or DMs you receive before they get deleted so that you keep actual proof of what happened, which would later be useful to try and catch perpetrators.

Even if their reaction can be unpredictable, before posting anything, look at it twice and make sure you anticipate the kind of replies you might get. Don’t forget you can delete your posts or comments at all times if you have doubts. 

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