If you’ve ever spent time on the internet, you’ve probably had experience in dealing with trolls. If you haven’t, then how the hell are you reading this?
Now, just do an internet search for trolls (be sure to make your terms specific) and everyone has their ideas on how to take care of them. Some say feed them, some say ignore them, some say out-troll them, etc.
However, whatever fleeting success you’ve had with any method, to have any sort of consistent success, you must understand the mentality of the internet troll.
Now, a troll today is much different from a troll in the 1990’s, which was just an internet prankster. A troll today is far more insidious. One must not find one taken. Also, one must not confuse a person with an unpopular opinion with a troll. I’ve been called a troll before simply because many people are offended by my opinions. Fine. That’s fair enough, but my intent was not to offend you, and I can defend my opinions, so offensive or not, they are legitimate, even if I don’t always present them in a straightforward manner.
When in doubt, do not assume the person is a troll. Do not react emotionally, but engage. This should expose their intentions. If they’re more than happy to enter discourse with you and defend their opinions and listen to yours, they are not a troll. However, if everything they say seems to be an increasing attempt to piss you off, then they probably are. If they keep trying to derail any existing conversation, then they most certainly are.
So, the mentality of the troll is simple enough, and I certainly understand it, because I had the proper past to follow that route. As a child, they always felt as if they were hated and they never understood why. They learned that by doing certain things, they could elicit reactions and feel more like they deserve the hatred. With me, when I started getting close to a few people and knew I wasn’t hated by everyone, I grew out of that. But the troll just keeps pushing people away. He’s come to terms with the fact he will always be hated. He’s okay with that. He just wants to deserve the hatred that he’s getting. So, he goes on the internet and pisses people off. They yell at him, they hate him, they complain about the trolls that have taken over the internet, and he is blocked and banned. He creates a new account and repeats.
Even ignoring him isn’t going to do any good. If you drop a hook where there are enough fish, eventually one will bite, even if most of them know what the hook is. He’s conceded his life is going to be miserable. That he is going to be hated. Reaching him at this late stage in his life isn’t going to be easy. Befriend him. Let him know it doesn’t have to be like this. Let him know that you will never hate him, and that he could be loved. It’s possible he’ll feel it’s too late for him and move on. If he does, at least he’s out of your hair. The other possibility is that he will listen to you. Either way, you win. And it’s the only possible course of action where he could win too.
There is another possibility. That he will up the ante. He might be so upset with the audacity of someone wanting him to feel loved that he might feel like he’s being taunted or lied to. Stand your ground. After all, inside the troll there is a decent but broken person wishing he could feel love. If he reacts this way, he’s letting his pain show through, which proves the humanity behind the troll. He’s just putting up walls to keep you out of it.
Handling trolls in this manner is good for you and good for the troll. It’s the only way that could benefit both of you.