How to manage trolls online? (and make sure you aren’t one) – a social guide for 2020

November 09, 2020

How to manage trolls online? (and make sure you aren’t one) – a social guide for 2020

At the beginning of the year, the start of the pandemic, trolling was at a low. No one had time to be trolls or feed trolls. The mentality was that everyone was “in it together,” and our feeds were full of chalky rainbows, applause for medical workers, and recipes for sourdough.

Now I’m seeing a big shift, and it ain’t pretty. I’m starting to notice a lot of hateful speech and trolling comments whenever I flick through Instagram. And I am talking REALLY hateful, personal, horrible comments, which I won’t repeat here, that are mainly aimed at tearing strong women down. So what gives?

Keyboard warriors have been saying horrible things since the dawn of the internet, but it has gotten a lot more personal lately.

When we say something, online or otherwise, it has ramifications. Is it something negative about someone’s appearance? Is the purpose to hurt someone? It’s probably trolling.

Would you say it out loud? To someone’s face? In front of your grandma? If you answered no, take a breath and keep scrolling. Or turn your phone off and have a screen detox. Need some ideas of healthier things to do? Check out ELC’s Ways to keep healthy (that aren’t fitness regimes.) 

First of all, is internet trolling illegal in Australia?

Why yes. It absolutely is. Trolls can actually be prosecuted, because the Australian government prohibits using the internet to “cause an offence to, menace, or harass the reasonable person.” And I promise you, the comments I have seen lately are all kinds of menacing and harassing. So call it out, sisters. It’s against the law.

What should I do if I see a troll comment on a page I follow?

Most pages will delete the most hurtful ones fairly quickly. But if you spot something nasty before the page does, please don’t be silent. Screenshot and send to the page if you can, bringing their attention to it.

If you feel comfortable, call the troll comment out and tell them it is not OK. Back up other women when you see them going to bat against the trolls. Band together and shut it down.

I’ve been trolled. What do I do?

It feels horrible. I’m really sorry, and it isn’t your fault. Lots of ‘victims’ are now choosing to screenshot the abuse and post it again for everyone to see. @CourageousLadies, @ShellyHorton1, @Karinairby have all posted some fabulous clap-backs lately that have been celebrated around the world. Some women find it empowering, since it’s way more embarrassing for the troll.

But honestly, you also have every right to just delete/ block/ disengage. You should do whatever you feel will empower you the most.

ELC is definitely not immune. Trolls really don’t like strong, confident women, and we have a LOT of those around here.

At ELC, trolls aren’t tolerated, and they don’t get replies.  They are deleted and blocked quicker than my coffee disappears. My platform is not for this kind of messaging.

I don’t think I am a troll. But what if someone takes issue with something I said online?

The thing is, now more than ever, people are isolated, struggling, and lashing out. A lot of people are looking to fight comments, not excuse them.

If you said something you feel you maybe shouldn’t have, or if it accidentally caused offense, you can try to explain yourself, or you can apologise and take it down yourself. Right now, what everyone needs is more kindness, humility, and forgiveness. We’re all unique and have different opinions, and that’s fine. But please be kind in your expression.

Remember never post when you’re angry. Keep it impersonal. If you aren’t sure if it is personal-- wait until tomorrow or just delete it now.

Is trolling really such a big deal?

Yes. Some people try to minimise it because it is the internet and “not real life.” That makes it worse.

It is real. It is no less threatening or upsetting than someone saying that to you in the chemist or the supermarket.

Because 8.8 million Aussies have experienced trolling, with an economic impact of nearly $4 billion in medical expenses and lost income. Because 44% of women have experienced it.

It is a huge problem, and it’s silent and widespread and can come from literally anywhere in the world that has internet connection.  It’s tough to fight.

But enough is enough. So while we’re still waiting for a solid solution that is backed by appropriate criminal investigations and research, we need to stand together, look after each other, and shut this sh*t down.

And for everything negative we see, let’s all post five nice things and flood the internet with rainbows again.

Who’s with me?

bring your good vibes to ELC on insta

If this brings up issues, or if you or someone you know needs help, you are not alone. Please contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or lifeline.org.au.




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