The Trouble with Trolls

Divergent blue

Definitely struggling with kind at the moment. Really frustrated with an issue that is a reoccurrence in fandoms because some people simply refuse to use an ounce of common sense or try to, in even a tiny way, live by that above philosophy. (As a side note, if you haven’t read Divergent I highly recommend it – might be ‘teen fiction’ but some deep truths if you allow them to sink in. I’m way past being a teen and really liked the series!)

TROLLS! People on the internet that seem to go out of their way to cause issues, disrupt a forum or just spread nastiness. This is an issue that has been addressed many times in many places I’m sure, so I’ll add my voice to the chorus. Not because I think I can say it better or am any better than anyone else, but everyone thinks differently and I may give someone that ‘ah-ha!’ moment when others couldn’t.

Now in the spirit of full-disclosure, I stooped to being a troll once. For about 15 minutes. I probably shouldn’t have done it, but it effectively stopped nastiness against my fandom for about 48 hours on that particular poll. If anyone really wants that story I’ll tell it privately.

People that bring up a differing viewpoint and defend it in a discussion isn’t someone I have a problem with. That is what forums are for IMHO. To see and maybe understand another facet, a different viewpoint that is just as passionate as your own. MY issue comes from the people that are abusive. Bad language, name calling, denigration, rudeness, and shit stirring just to rile people rather than to make a valid point.

Most effective way to deal with these people is not to ‘feed’ them. Don’t give them attention as that is what they want. They want to get people riled up, they revel in chaos and bad feelings. Ignore them (as much as possible) and hopefully whatever forum you are in will have admins that can block them if enough people complain. Private forums and poll comments are one issue…..Twitter is another.

Twitter is so great and so bad for the same reason. Things can spread far and wide VERY quickly. For trying to get people to vote like we are doing right now for #AlphaMaleMadness – it’s a great thing! When it has something to do with a negative….well….it can make it much, much worse.

As I type this it is April 28, noonish. Early in my day on April 26, someone posted something that Sam Heughan responded to. To several of us this looked like an invasion of his privacy which made us see red and leap to his defense. The bigger problem is I’m still seeing retweets of some of the ‘conversation’ today.

A few thoughts about this particular instance and this problem in general. Sam is a braw and canny lad that can well defend himself if he needs it. However – if HE responds too much to anything it gets the issue to a much bigger audience. Rock – hard place. Most stars/celebrities may have very fine retorts but can’t or won’t use them on open forums. Good restraint (way better than I have). Often then, some well-meaning fans jump in and defend. I think this is fine, we just need to do it RIGHT!

The ‘person’ that started this mess back on 4/26 obviously MEANT to cause trouble. I say this because:
1) this person blocked one of Sam’s main supporters before ever starting the issue with him
2) deleted the initial tweets so they couldn’t be seen
3) had obviously ‘set up’ the account for this as there was no info, the ONE tweet that could be seen (and since Sam had responded to this person twice already there was more to the story) had 2 followers and zilch else and
4) I just checked and that account has disappeared. TROLL!

I saw some postings this morning about Sam and some lovely blonde lady on his own personal time trying to pry, again, into his personal life. Hence – you all get a blog so I can vent!

Here is the deal…..responding to and shutting these trolls down is all well and good….BUT….you have to remember that responses, tweets, retweets, etc. ALL have the troll’s tag in them – hence – attention. Often Sam (or whoever was the target) has their tag there also, so they get hit with all the mess too AND it spreads it to an even bigger audience.

Here are my thoughts on this issue. If they help, great. If not come up with your own common sense guidelines for dealing with these things to minimize negative impact not only for our favorite celebs, but for each of us in the fandom.

Personal life is that. PERSONAL. None of our damn business! Are we all curious about things that go on in our favorite celebs life? Of course. Will we eagerly enjoy any little tidbit they want to give us? Absolutely. Should we publicly speculate or question them about their private lives? ABSOLUTELY NOT! Now, I have another celeb that is my ‘first’ love in actors. He is ultra-talented, very sexy and more my age <g> My BFF and I discuss him a lot, his life, his loves, what he’s up to, etc…..in a PRIVATE instant message. Her and I and no one else. Period. We don’t even tell our guys most of what we discuss there, its girl talk <g> Twitter is a very public forum. I only have about 260 followers at this point and I’m amazed at where all some of the stuff I post ends up!

Don’t speculate on personal issues or spread rumors. This one is pretty common sense. If a public figure wants to give out some personal news – Awesome – share it! Just don’t spread stuff you don’t know to be true or could be potentially harmful. We don’t want someone like Sam to basically walk away from social media because of abuse. That would be sad for all concerned.

Pay attention to timeline! Look at what you are seeing. If it happened more than a few hours ago and its troll oriented….leave it alone. DM someone involved if you can if you feel you need more info, but to retweet things continues and spreads them when that may not be the best idea.

Don’t give the troll attention/shut them down. The best way I can think to do this (and if someone has better options PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE share!) is to get the word out to as many people in the fandom as possible without giving the troll power or attention. Put a space in their tag when you identify them (i.e. @ JaneDoe rather than @JaneDoe) so people can see where the problem is without having it actually go back to the problem. I personally took Sam’s tags out very early on in this last situation so he wouldn’t have all that mess – but not all did and I’ve been educated that that little blue checkmark gives him more advanced screening options (thank god). BLOCK this person if you feel it appropriate – deny them the access and attention they want.

THINK! All this has potential for abuse. Just because someone disagrees doesn’t make them a troll. Use such steps wisely. Perhaps if enough people block someone for say 24 hours they will get the message – maybe not, but it will at least keep it off Twitter for that chunk of people for a little while.

RESPECT!!!!!  This is what it comes down to is: RESPECT. For the celebrity (in this case Sam) and for yourself as a human being and a ‘fan’ of something. In some ways I actually pity trolls….they must be very sad, pathetic people if they feel this is their best way of getting attention – by tearing down rather than building up.

Ok…..rant over. Hope this is helpful. Would love to get other thoughts and opinions! Discussion is GOOD!