We’ve all seen them. Internet trolls lurking in comment sections everywhere, lobbing judgmental and malicious insults in hopes of igniting a response or flame war. You might even have them on your own blog or social media site. I’ve always considered myself somewhat non-controversial on my blog and in social media. The things I share are informational for the most part, and I don’t argue or debate much online. Unwittingly, I found myself in the midst of some trolling in the form of body-shaming, when Seattle Seahawk Richard Sherman posted one of my old Instagrams as a Fan Friday post last week. I won’t go into all the details – you can read them here if you like – but I learned a great lesson in how to deal with trolls the healthy way.
There is a healthy way, and let me explain what that is. Sure, we’ve all had fleeting moments judging others’ Instagrams, outfit posts or whatever. Imagine what Leandra Medine or Rumi Neely think every time they log into Instagram. I might not be anywhere near Man Repeller or FashionToast status, but when a slough of negative and possibly hurtful comments start to show up about you or on something that means a lot to you (like your blog.) It’s hard to just “shake it off” and “ignore the haters.” As bloggers I feel we have a unique opportunity to steer the conversation in a completely opposite (read: positive) direction.
That’s what I was motivated to do with my own experience in dealing with trolls. Rather than pretend it didn’t happen and stay quiet while it faded away into fleeting social media history, I took the opportunity to use my blog as a platform. A platform to shine the proverbial mirror on those who criticized my body. A platform for them to take responsibility of the words and energy they put out there, and think about why they needed to put down others to make themselves feel better. A platform to encourage mindfulness and positivity, especially in support of other women.
Rather than spend my time wallowing in negativity, or getting into it with these trolls, I wanted to make my personal situation one that my readers could learn from and hopefully be inspired by. It didn’t make sense for me to be quiet; it made perfect sense to defend my personal brand and blog in a graceful and uplifting manner. Here are a couple of tips I kept top of mind while crafting my post:
Resist the temptation
While writing my post on this experience, I had to go back to the photo with subsequent comments and even after telling myself I wouldn’t read anymore of them, I did. Don’t comment back. No matter how biting of an insult they threw at you, just don’t. It’s not worth your time or energy, and you won’t feel much better for it.
You know what I mean. The insult tucked inside of a compliment is still an insult. Don’t do that either. It’s still stooping to their level.
Style + grace
Remember your stance at all times (the one where you’re above all this!) Be graceful and know that trolls are still human beings at the end of the day. Treat them with respect, even if they didn’t give you any. How great would it be if one of them fell upon your blog post and became a reader out of all of this?
Engage – with the right audience
By that, I mean your readers. They’re everything, and in this instance, they are the ones who will engage back with you respectfully and willingly. The time you spend thinking of the perfect snarky response to trolls is much better spent writing to your readers on how they can rise above negativity and spread that sense of community far and wide.
What’s come of the blog post I decided to write has been so much more positive and fruitful than any mudslinging I could’ve done in comment streams. I’m happy I decided to write about it, and so grateful my amazing community has been so supportive.
Have you dealt with internet trolls? If so, how? Would love to hear in the comments below!
[Image credit: Shutterstock.com]