In children’s stories, trolls are the creatures that live under footbridges or in swamps, waiting to attack hapless passers-by.
In the real world, they’re the people who sneak around blogs, waiting to attack hapless passers-by.
I attract the attention of a troll every once in a while here on the blog. In fact, I had one drop by on Monday. I actually wish I got more, because I always find them amusing.
Blog trolls are important because they can teach a lot about the real world. Even if you’ll never have to defend your honor against a blog troll, you may have to learn how to handle and tame a real life troll. And that’s a skill that everyone needs.
Troll Behavior 101
It turns out that trolls, much like bears, seem to operate on pure instincts, and if they are studied carefully, you can learn their behavioral patterns.
First of all, trolls found in the wild are usually not interested in conversation. They only have one thing in mind: to attack strangers.
Take Monday’s specimen, a troll whose avatar was a pair of piously praying hands. It opened up conversation with me this way:
Notice how the troll didn’t bother to learn anything about me to know how absurd its attacks are to me. Plus, I’m protected by my impervious “like I give a damn” armor, so its barbs bounced off me while I laughed like a pirate. Similar to this, a troll in March attacked me with all the subtlety and grammar of a poo flinging chimp:
“I truly doubt your faith to Christianity as a religion.”
This of course is the bait that the troll uses to lure you into its crudely designed troll trap. As soon as you defend yourself, the troll throws up its hands in feigned bewilderment, as if it didn’t expect a conflict:
“LOL! Kinda thin-skinned, are we?”
“Wow dude, way to attack me. That’s so Christian of you.”
Sometimes, another well meaning commenter might find himself ensnared by the troll…
I laughed out loud for several minutes at a troll that calls someone “whining girl.” As they heap on fresh criticisms, calling you a “failure” or accusing you of “spreading hate,” the cycle continues, and logic deteriorates, until you decide you’ve wasted enough of your time. Like I said, always amusing.
Troll Defense 101
Trying to make a troll hug and kiss you never pays. I have never seen a troll, in real life or on a blog who could be convinced that I was a decent human being. I have seen real life trolls attack people for years. Once trolls get that idea that they hate you, they are going to resist ever changing their minds.
Why? Because changing their minds would require that they admit they were wrong. That breaks the cardinal rule of trolling. And in that way, trolls are much like people.
What is there to do? Take an honest look in the mirror. Do what you can to honestly admit your shortcomings and improve yourself. And don’t waste your time explaining yourself to trolls. Let them worry about all your additional faults.
Or you can just play dead.
Trolling Doesn’t Pay
Here’s the thing, even if you’ve never trolled on a blog or message board, you’ve had people in your life who you’ve wanted to attack and criticize. You’ve wanted to tell them all the ways they are wrong and you are right, and really put them in their place. Some people like to troll in public, make signs and tell people they’re going to hell. Some people don’t have to leave their own home to do some trolling.
But when you indulge your inner troll, what are people going to do? Defend themselves.
They are going to justify themselves, dig their heels in and tell themselves that they must be right and you, the idiot troll, must be wrong. They end up being more convinced of their own rightness than ever. I did it too. As soon as the troll attacked me, I justified myself against anything it said.
I think half the reason that the world is in this mess we call the 21st century is because half of us are trolls, and the other half are digging in their heels and sticking with their stupid ideas. It doesn’t matter how smart you are. No one listens to a troll.
So there you go, some big life lessons, all thanks to the humble blog troll. So tell us your stories of valor and bravery in facing trolls, on your blogs or in real life! How do you deal with trolls? Anyone dare to admit they are a troll in recovery?