3 Tips for Dealing with Trolls
For those of you who have been reading my blog for a while, you may be familiar with an email that I received shortly after starting my blog. An anonymous emailer wrote to tell me that I was too fat to write a fashion blog. That email hurt but ultimately I let the emotions from that propel me forward. It helped me develop my voice and my passion for empowering women of all shapes, sizes, and backgrounds. It was truly a turning point for me.
Some years have gone by since that email. I’ve lost weight and made health and fitness a priority. My life has changed, my mindset has evolved. Unfortunately, the internet trolls have not.
In the last few weeks it seems that the internet trolls are out in full force. Not only have I experienced an uptick in commentary about my size and my lifestyle choices, I know many of my fellow blogger pals have, too. It makes me sad that we live in a time where people can sit behind their keyboards slinging insults at women and men who are putting themselves out there publicly. Every time I hit publish on a blog post, an Instagram post, a tweet, a Facebook update, a Snapchat, or an Instagram story, I have to stop and review it, sometimes multiple times, mentally preparing myself for what critiques may come of the content I choose to publish.
Trolls aren’t just on the internet and they don’t just impact bloggers or online influencers. While it certainly comes with the territory, trolls are everywhere – online and off. Sometimes you’ll encounter a bully in the workplace, an acquaintance who spreads rumors about you, a family member who purposely harasses you, perhaps a faceless internet troll finds your personal Instagram account and leaves a comment. The point is, it happens to us all. It’s those moments and how we react that define us.
It’s important to take a step back here and realize that there is a difference between trolling, differences of opinion, and constructive criticism. Trolling is an individual acting on their own who is deliberately attempting to incite a reaction. Essentially, intentionally poking the bear. Far too often someone is labeled a “troll” simply because they have a differing opinion than someone else’s, be it political, religious, etc. Those differences of opinions keep the world turning and are healthy as it can expand our minds. Lastly, there’s constructive criticism. Not everyone is eloquent and tactful when providing feedback.
But back to dealing with trolls…
Dealing with trolls and their criticisms of your life – sometimes on a very personal level like your body – can make you feel incredibly raw. You’ll feel attacked and rightfully so, but ultimately you have to realize that you can’t please everyone. No matter how hard you try, someone will always think you could do better or be better. They might not agree with your life and choices, but it’s YOUR life, not theirs. So what should you do when dealing with the trolls?
- Remain calm. I know, I know. This one is WAY easier said than done. If you’re dealing with an online troll, the good news is you’re also behind a keyboard so you can get up, walk away, go for a run, cry, call a friend, etc. Do what you need to get to a place mentally where you can respond. If you’re dealing with a troll in person, your head will probably start spinning from the shock that someone you know could say such harsh things, but take a few deep breaths, gulp back the tears, and stay strong.
- Recognize if this is worth your time. Most of the time trolls (especially of the online persuasion) are trolling you and/or others out of boredom. In the heat of the moment, it can be difficult to step back and realize that you have an amazing tribe of friends and family who love and support you, so why should one person bring you down? The answer is: it shouldn’t.
- Kill them with kindness. If you feel the need to engage with a troll, do not stoop to their level. Remain calm, tactful, and polite. Do not respond reactively and defensively. Ask questions to better understand what they are saying, attempt to find common ground, thank them for their feedback and move forward. If you find yourself needing to work through this in person, do the same thing and ultimately attempt to diffuse the situation. Keep in mind the reality is you can’t please everyone.
In the end, you can let your moments dealing with trolls hold you back or propel you forward. It’s a hard lesson to learn, but you can’t please everyone, and like a duck to water, sometimes you have to just let it roll off your back.