They always say "don't feed the trolls." I say, no sir. I feed them rat poison.
You will read a myriad of things about what people say about negative comments, personal attacks, and trolls. Usually, they make many good points. I'm not going to cover any of them here. Because if you're reading me, you likely want something more quick and effective. Maybe even fun.
The problem I see with the average user on social media who are aspiring somethings or small business owners is that they're too easy on the riffraff they encounter. They've been whacked over the head by Corporate America (or Corporate Wherever) and their HR departments for so long that they believe that they have no right to engage aggressively with trolls and their lesser ilk. Whatever happened to freedom of speech? The right to ignore? These aren't arbitrary for the sake of space-fillers. I'll talk about them later in the wrap-up.
My experience with trolls and general negativity stems from seven years running a political page on Facebook I created with over 150,000 followers. I dealt with trolls and run-of-the-mill idiots on a daily basis. I even dealt with a few death threats. This experience taught me one thing: there are no rules in handling unwanted trespassers.
At the risk of sounding like I'm lumping everyone into the same umbrella, I'm not going to compile a long list of examples of the kind of comments and encounters I'm referring to here. And instead of using names like trolls, which isn't always an accurate term for what I'm talking about, I will refer to these people as trespassers. Because at the end of the day, that's what they are. They're uninvited. They're potentially aggressive and invasive, purposely infringing on your time. And they're going to end up putting you into a foul mood well beyond your encounter with them if they succeed in their petty mission. I think most of us have experienced this online in one form or another, including with colleagues, friends, and even family. But here's the good news: I include these otherwise untouchables too! So let's get into how I deal with trespassers.
Dealing with Trespassers
There are only two strategies I use to deal with my trespassers.
1. Block or mute. The easiest and quickest method. Or 2. Respond to them, then block or mute.
That's it. That's how I roll. And I highly recommend it, based on my seven years of enduring a lot of toxicity.
I really hope there are a few of you out there who are reading this and taking this to heart. Because I've seen people driven away from social media because they didn't know how to handle themselves. And a lot of it probably had to do with feeling that they had no right to fight back or maybe they preferred to not be confrontational. Or they worried about how it would appear to the rest of their contacts if they defended themselves. There are many legitimate reasons why someone would simply choose to leave a social media platform than stay on and deal with a bunch of bullshit they weren't anticipating.
If you're one of these people who are teetering on the edge of leaving social media because of trespassers, listen up: there are much better reasons to leave social media! But intimidation isn't one of them.
Half-jokes aside, let's dive into the how-to's before I circle back around and discuss this a little bit more. If you already know the ins and outs of blocking and muting, etc., skip to the wrap up.
To Block, go to the person's profile page. There are four rectangular boxes in the banner image in the upper right: Friends. Follow. Message. And a drop-down menu represented as three dots. Click on the three dots. Select Block. A conversation box opens up with the following information:
Are you sure you want to block [name of your trespasser]?
[name of your trespasser] will no longer be able to:
See things you post on your timeline Tag you Invite you to events or groups Start a conversation with you Add you as a friend
If you're friends, blocking [name of your trespasser] will also unfriend him or her.
If you just want to limit what you share with [name of your trespasser] or see less of her or him on Facebook, you can take a break from her or him instead.
Click Confirm or Cancel.
To Delete or Hide comments, go to the trespasser's comment and find the drop-down menu as indicated by the three dots. Select Delete or Hide.
If you delete a comment, your trespasser will discover it if they're paying attention. Deleting a comment does not result in a block of a person or any other actions. You're simply deleting the comment. That's it.
When you hide a comment, according to Facebook:
When you hide a comment from a post on your Page, the comment will only be visible to the person who wrote it and their friends.
Hiding a conversation can be advantageous in a couple of ways. It can serve to hide comments by people you don't want to block but whose comments are either embarrassing or otherwise unfit for your audience.
Hiding a conversation is also my favorite method for dealing with a trespasser whom I wish to have a chat with before I block them. My contacts won't see what's going on - unless they're friends with said person. But otherwise, strangers coming to me and "starting shit" are going to find out the hard way that I don't play around. And once I say what it is I have to say, I block them.
To Block, go to the trespasser's profile page and click the three dot drop down menu next to the profile name and Follow (Following) button. Select "Block this user".
In Instagram, there are less options to confront a trespasser with. In your posts, you can only delete comments in the same way you'd go about deleting comments in Facebook. But there is no hiding comments. Basically, you'd delete and block (or report) your trespasser.
Twitter isn't much better than Instagram, and remains indefinitely annoying in that you can't delete or hide trespasser posts who reply in your Tweet thread. If you want that person's Tweets to go away, you have to block them.
To Block, go to your trespasser's profile page and find the three dot drop down menu. Simply select Block.
The only other option to not see someone's Tweets is to mute them from that same drop down menu. But this action will not prevent them from responding to your Tweets.
According to Twitter:
Mute is a feature that allows you to remove an account's Tweets from your timeline without unfollowing or blocking that account. Muted accounts will not know that you’ve muted them and you can unmute them at any time. To access a list of accounts you have muted, visit your muted accounts settings on twitter.com or your app settings on Twitter for iOS or Android.
There's a fundamental problem with rights in general. They are not given or divinely granted, despite what any constitution or set of laws may state. In nature, rights don't even exist. There are no magical entities or institutions of humanity capable of granting citizens rights which can't be easily taken away when convenient for those who control law enforcement or military forces. The only way to have rights is to recognize them and exercise them. This fact is demonstrated daily in news stories around the world, so I won't go into this discussion too deep for the sake of brevity.
The freedom of speech is very important in regards to dealing with trespassers. For one, your trespasser has taken it upon his or herself to exercise freedom of speech - directed at you. You have the right to respond in kind, however you wish. Full stop.
The right to ignore is completely made up by me. But so are all rights. The premise is simple. You do not have to respond to trespassers. You can leave their comments alone, delete them, mute them, block the trespasser, whatever the case may be as allowable by the functionality of the social media platform in question. Full stop.
Life is short. And for better or for worse, social media is a large part of most people's lives on Planet Earth in the early part of the 21st Century. For many of us, it's a daily habit to peruse our social media platforms and to make use of them. Ideally, they should serve us, not the other way around.
One way to keep social media in line with serving us is to expel the trespassers, the negativity, the toxicity, from our lives. There's no reason to "play it safe" or to be politically correct and endure someone's abuse, however slight. We're all empowered to end it in our social media backyards. Put up that fence, buy a trampoline, and continue with life outside the Online. There's no need of an emotional support animal in our social media lives!