Editorial
23 July 2020

How to Cope With Trolls on the Internet

These days, it doesn’t take much for one to become ‘internet famous’ — you don’t need to be a music artist nor a TV celebrity with millions of followers to go viral online. All it takes is a witty Tweet of an unpopular opinion or a trendy TikTok video and bam you could be an e-sensation overnight. 

But gaining popularity on the internet isn’t always as fun as it seems… sometimes it comes with a lot of backlashes of people spewing terrible comments just because they can. The next thing you know, you’re ‘cancelled’. And if you find that your content is constantly going around the internet, you best have a defensive shield to protect yourself mentally. 

So, here are some defence techniques to arm yourself with should you come across internet critics and trolls! 

 

1. Distinguish between trolls and critics

 

It’s hard not to feel offended when someone leaves a dissenting comment about you or what you do. But, before you spiral into a rage, it’s important to know that not everyone who disagrees with you is out to get you. 

Before responding or doing anything at all, take a step back to analyse what’s been said and determine the intention of the comment

Did the commenter express their opinions in a good manner? Does it make sense? Is it a constructive criticism where you could actually improve from? Perhaps they offer a different perspective you’ve not heard of, from which could help widen your horizon. If so, these commenters are genuinely expressing their opinions and are worth considering. 

On the other hand, if you stumble upon internet trolls whose intentions are to spread negative vibes, then they are definitely not worth your time. You can differentiate these commenters as their messages are usually laden with superficial insults, for example, your looks and attire. Name-calling and excessive or inappropriate use of vulgar languages are also signs of it.

 

2. Understand the trolls

 

You can choose to be the bigger person here and give the trolls a slight benefit of the doubt as difficult as that can be. One way to do so is by trying to understand and humanise the person behind the negative comment.

Perhaps these trolls are going around leaving negative comments because they’re going through a hard time in their lives or are feeling unfulfilled and dissatisfied about themselves and their comments are a reflection of them and NOT you. 

Don’t allow them to take control of your emotions. You have the choice to either let the negative comment fuel you with anger and respond with rage OR you can choose to let it go and stop it from getting to you. In this case, there’s absolutely no reason for you to listen to these naysayers!

3. Don’t take it personally

 

One reason people appear to be meaner and aggressive online is that they forget there’s a human on the other side of the screen. In reality, most people probably wouldn’t have the guts to speak their mind due to social conventions.

Oftentimes, we find it easier to express our thoughts on the internet than in person. Similarly, the so-called critics do not see the human side of you and are merely interacting with their screen.

Unless you personally know these trolls, there’s no need to take their comments to heart. After all, they don’t know who you truly are as a person, and are merely commenting on what they see online. Ultimately, you shouldn’t let others dictate how you should be and just be true to your identity.

4. Report, block, and move on

 

“The less you respond to negative people, the more peaceful your life will become.” - Unknown

The quote says it all. 

Although some criticisms are necessary for self-improvement, you don’t have to listen and entertain the critics of the world, even more so the trolls — they’re simply not worth your precious time and mental capacity

Simply mute or better yet, block the person if you can’t stand their views.

More importantly, if you find the comments abusive in any way at all, whether they’re racist, sexist, or invoke violence, you have every right to report it. If it gets worse (e.g. life-threatening), be sure to report the incident to the police or lodge a complaint to the Malaysian Communications Multimedia Commission for your safety!

5. Take a breather

 

As we’ve established by now, becoming an internet sensation is not easy.

If you find yourself drowning in all the noise and are unable to cope with the stress, it’s a sign to stop and leave the virtual world — even if that means uninstalling the application on your mobile device (at least for a while). 

Blocking itself won’t be enough if you’re still actively posting and receiving new comments.

It’s necessary to take a hiatus and free yourself from the boundaries of social media once in a while. 

PS: If you’re feeling overwhelmed, check out these videos from Taylor’s Life Skills to help you realign and calm your mind.

We hope you’ve learned some ways to cope with trolls on the internet. Should you find yourself unable to manage the stress online, remember to seek help from people around you or reach out to mental health professionals and organisations such as Befrienders

 

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Josephine Serena
Editor
TAGS
EMPOWER
CANCEL CULTURE
MENTAL HEALTH

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