The best way to deal with internet trolls

Last year I posted a questions about photography in a Facebook group and included a “Pic for attention.” Posts in those groups generally go unnoticed unless there is an accompanying photo so usually photographers will just upload a photo that relates to the question, in this case, a family photography question.

While six or seven people commented helpful answers, one girl commented “Why are they standing in water…?”

While not cruel by any means, there was definitely some shade that said, “I don’t understand your creative choices.” Which might as well be “You suck!!” to an artist because have you heard? We are ALL sensitive, vulnerable and insecure when it comes to our art.

My first instinct was to pounce back. To shout something defensive as I threw my backpack and ran down the hall to cry in my locker. The comment was embarrassing, I was embarrassed, but that didn’t have to trigger me to act like I was still a deeply insecure 14 year old.  After a few minutes of allowing myself to feel embarrassed, I decided to skip the whole thing. I thanked those who commented helpful comments and ignored her comment. An hour later, I checked back and no one had commented, liked, disliked, laughed at or reacted to her comment in any way. The next morning I checked again and she had deleted her comment.

There was no war. There was no drama. There were no sides. I stood, silent and still on my ground and she ran away. If that isn’t a win, then I don’t know what is.

When we wage internet war, both sides lose. 

The only thing way a troll loses is if they are met with complete silence. We’ve all heard the advice “Don’t feed the trolls” and it’s 100% true. Their GOAL is to get your reaction and attention. So why give them what they want? Why not just snuff out that flame by literally saying, “This comment isn’t even worth a thumbs down”?

It’s the hardest thing though, isn’t it? We live in an age where we all want to be heard, we all want to be seen, we all want to voice our opinions loud and proud. But if we really want to trump internet hate, we need to refuse to give those people our attention.

If you’re one of those people that just can’t help but fight back, I have the perfect tip for you because I was once in that space too. If you’re feeling like engaging and you know you shouldn’t, leave it for six hours. Then if you still feel like engaging, you can. I promise you that six hours later, it won’t really feel like anything. The intensity of the moment will have passed and you’ll be glad the worst of the internet didn’t get your worst side too.

I’ll leave you with this cartoon I found on Humor Gags because it 100% applies to everything on the internet. We are so powerful and we don’t even know it.

Denise Karis is an Arizona photographer who enjoys musicals, Doctor Who and breakfast burritos. IG @denisekaris