I’ve been online for a really long time. As a 22 year old, that probably sounds silly, but considering the years I’ve participated in online forums/writing platforms/blogging platforms/social media/etc., it really begins to stack up. A lot. I’ve been online in various forms since middle school.
Ahh, the good ol’ days.
Now that I’m more streamlined into my writing and am more invested in cultivating my skills and networking with other authors, editors, and freelancers, I’ve also joined a lot of online communities that cater to writers. Usually through Facebook – groups are easy to find, join, and generally speaking offer a wide range of personalities and perspectives. It’s great. Social media is basically the two-way mirror from Harry Potter, without the super exclusionary fact that you have to be a wizard to use one.
So I’ve gotten to join a lot of really wonderful groups, with a lot of people who are just like me, or who have more experience than me, all who offer really good advice, perspectives, and resources, as well as potential friend-making if you find someone you click with. I’ve gotten to have access to a lot of connections that I didn’t have before keeping to my own little corner of the world here in Florida. However, this is the internet… And with the internet, comes trolls.
I honestly didn’t think that I would come across many if any within the writing groups that I’ve joined. For the most part, if you join a writing group, you want to share and exchange things about being a writer, things that are beneficial. For the most part. So coming across one randomly, out of the blue in an otherwise tame group surprised me. And then it angered me.
The knee jerk reaction to this person acting the way they did (an initial post they made was highly inappropriate, and the subsequent responses to other members pointing out the fact was childish at best) was to respond. Explain why they were wrong. Tell them, in a very well-thought-out, strongly worded reply that I did not appreciate their attitude, their words – the way they ignored basic professionalism and had no respect for the members in the group –
Until I realized. What would the point be?
The problem with trolls (or, assholes on the internet, because that’s what they are) is that they don’t care about your strongly worded response, your disappointment in their character. They don’t post the things they do with the mindset that they’ll change if people call them out on their problematic behavior. The only thing that happens is you getting sucked into an argument that goes nowhere.
It’s unfortunate that an incident like that happened in an otherwise awesome group, but moving away from the conversation and moving on to things that in the long run, will benefit you more than engaging people like that, is far more rewarding.
And hey, without people feeding into the drivel, the troll will just slink away and starve from the attention it’s not getting. Who wins? You do, every time.