Dealing with Internet Trolls – The Healthy Way


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.

Don’t backhand

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!

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6 Responses

  1. Lisa

    I just wrote a post on dealing with Internet haters, last Saturday. I abide by 3 principles. I think it’s easiest if I just include the link here, hope that’s OK.

    Learning from the experience is my highest goal – but it’s HARD.

    • Jess Estrada

      Yes, thank you for sharing your link and experience! I agree it’s hard to learn from, but the hardest lessons to learn are also the most essential. I take my blog and brand seriously and felt strongly about putting this out there – because it’s something that’s far too prevalent in the digital space. Thanks again Lisa, and sorry you had to go through it as well.

  2. Eden Daniels

    I recently posted an instagram photo of my own hand wearing stacks of newly acquired antique onyx and diamond rings for my Etsy shop. Someone posted the comment “grandma hands”. I was hurt and embarrassed and almost immediately took down the photo.

    However, after some thought about all the wonderful things my hands can do and create and how proud I am of them (slightly scarred and weathered but incredibly capable), I put it back up with a little story about why I’d taken it down in the first place. It’s one of my highest ranked photos to date and the response has been very supportive.

    I think we should embrace our idiosyncrasies and our faults and concentrate on our abilities and our strengths. It’s so difficult sometimes when it’s possible for anyone to comment or judge us on these platforms.

    Bravo to you for your post.

    • Jess Estrada

      Bravo to you as well, Eden! It’s crazy to think that people are so quick to give rash judgments, but remembering where you’re coming from and drawing strength from that is key. It also helps me to take a step back and think about where they’re coming from. More often than not it’s from a place of insecurity, & it doesn’t help them or us to fan those flames. Thank you for sharing!

  3. Sarah's Real Life

    Seriously. What is the deal with people? Today I discovered the “@youdidnoteatthat” account on Instagram and I cannot believe how many people follow it. Why is it entertaining to call skinny people liars? It’s so easy to get sucked in to the comments and get mad about them…I can’t even imagine how I would feel if they were about me. But if it ever happens, I’ll take your advice 🙂

    ~Sarah of Sarah’s Real Life