As a person who has mostly stayed away from social media until 2015 and was then thrust into it after appearing on a TV baking show I cannot understand the mentality of social media Trolls. I like social media, it informs on News, it gives a wave of voiced opinions, it links us together and sometimes it creates friendships. But sometimes it hurts and tries to ruin reputations. I fear for my son’s generation and how online bullying affects them. My heart sinks when I read racist remarks, homophobic slurs, bitchiness and personal jibes.
Why am I talking about this today? Well last night I watched the semi finals of the Great British Bake Off on Channel4 where 4 hopeful bakers worked hard, tried their best, and baked their hearts out. Then I turned to Twitter and there they were, the Trolls, all feeding off each other in some negative feast they were cooking up together.
We have all heard of online Trolls. When I think of trolls I think of the fabled characters, ugly dirty hunched beings whose aim is to deviously hurt the innocent passer by. Children of my era were told they hid under bridges, but now they hide in plain sight, have online accounts and hold jobs. However, my childhood image of a Troll is not too far from the truth as anyone who writes ugly things wishing to hurt someone is devious, as what they really want is to evoke an emotional reaction. Their only goal is to incite anger, to thrive on conflict, and to keep this anger going for as long as they can. Would they do this in work? Or to their family? When the Troll is targeting, stalking and harassing ,this is another realm of bullying, and we all know that bullies target because they have personality flaws.
Time Magazine stated ‘Trolls are turning social media and comment boards into a giant locker room in a teen movie, with towel-snapping racial epithets and misogyny’ but also said they are steadily upping their game. Twitter’s head of trust and safety, Del Harvey, struggles with how to allow criticism but curb abuse. ”
Freedom of speech is very precious in our culture and it is the backbone of a civilized society. The fact we can stand up, have a voice in law is sacrosanct and I do believe we should stand up for this. But Trolls are clever, they masquerade as someone genuine wanting a response, but then will bring in negative, unreasonable comments and arguments and no amount of reasoning will work, as they love their airtime. Time Magazine recommends we all respond with love and kindness in our responses. However, it may be better to use the block button, report them often as this is a start. Don’t try to reason with Trolls, and just enjoy talking to your online friends. Anyway here’s to the final of the Great British Bake Off next Monday, where I for one will be tweeting, congratulating and enjoying the airtime together with all those wishing to enjoy themselves. Have a great day everyone, and do unto others what you would have them do unto you.