Thursday, January 15, 2015

Beware Of Trolls

Beware Of Trolls
Creative Commons Legal Code - Photo Credit: Sybren Stüvel
We've all experienced it. You share or post a vegan or animal cruelty related topic and you get a reply something like this, "Mmmmm. I love bacon!" or "I'm going to eat twice as many animals since you don't. You can't change anything." This person is called an internet troll. Most of the time this person is a stranger (Unfortunately, sometimes it's someone you know) looking for attention. Though these types of people can be anyone, my experience with trolls has been males in their teens or early twenties. I'm not saying this is the case for anyone else, but 90% of the trolls I've dealt with have fit that description. Much of my animal activism is done online so I've had some experience with this issue. Below are some tips and advice for dealing with these annoying yet unavoidable people.

 1. Are They Really A Troll?
It's important to understand that just because someone doesn't agree with you, doesn't mean they are an internet troll. I have had many peaceful and respectful conversations online with people who didn't agree or understand the vegan lifestyle. Being understanding and respectful of well meaning, albeit ignorant, comments is a great opportunity for someone to have a positive, possibly first, experience with a vegan. You may not "convert" them with your conversation, but it helps to remember that at one time in your life, you were just as clueless.

2. Is It Worth A Response?

 If your troll is indeed a troll, then you have the choice of whether or not to respond. I used to feel that I had to respond and combat all of the trolls that reared their heads. Sometimes it felt good to let these knuckle heads have it but in the the end I was just giving them what they wanted: attention. If the comment is too ridiculous or abusive, I will immediately delete it and block the user. If you feel compelled to reply, try taking some of the points below into consideration.

3. Keep Your Cool

Trolls make these comments with the intention to get under your skin and they probably will. Just don't let them know it. What they write might be offensive, mean or ridiculous but take the higher ground and don't get into an internet brawl with someone who has no interest in, or respect for your lifestyle or ethics.

4. Have A Sense Of Humor

Try making a light hearted joke in response to their comment. That shows them that not only did they not get under your skin, but you don't take them or their comment seriously. Just don't let it turn into a back and forth that will be a waste of your time and effort. If this becomes the case, block the user and move on with your life.

5. Represent Vegans In A Positive Light

Don't sink to the level of people who wish to belittle others. Veganism is the opposite of that mentality. So remember that when dealing with difficult people in all interactions in life. As I said above, any interaction you have with someone could be the first interaction they have had with a vegan. Don't let them leave your conversation thinking that the vegan stereotypes are true. 

How do you deal with internet trolls? Let me know in the comments!

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