The response of social media towards the stealing of my trike. where my original post was shared over 24000 times, demonstrated the positive activity of social media that is possible and it was the sole reason that the trike was found and returned. However, it was only a few weeks before this that I was dealing with a darker side of social media, which is dealing with trolls.
As I said before, a social media troll for me is different to someone who expresses a specific opinion to a tweet or post, positive or negative, written with kindness or in anger, as I often do. A troll is someone who targets someone to abuse and uses their victim’s posts to attack them with no interest in the content. Their responses are far more personal and also designed to belittle their victim.
I believe the reason many people troll is that they lack confidence in who they are in themselves and so need to knock and attack those with confidence as well as individuality that is different to the collective they wish to associate with. They believe attacking the outcast, they can add credibility within their collective, bullying their way into respect. As someone who is very individual in broadcasting my different views to the world, I am clearly an obvious target for trolls.
I learnt the hard way that the way not to confront trolls is to respond to them as you will only end up in ‘mirror arguments’, meaning that they will accuse you of stuff like being arrogant that you think they are displaying themselves. Trolls do not see social media as something real to them, as it is to many people, where I am just words on a screen with no real person attached to them. They will say stuff on social media that they will never dare say to me in real life, or say in a professional setting.
It was this realisation that helped me understand there was a way to confront trolls and that was to bring their trolling actions to the attention to their real life world and to ask their real life peers to judge their actions for themselves. If they are confident their real-life peers support what they say on social media, including their abusive tweets, then that is good for them and nothing I do will matter.
I should say that my own tweets, which I always take full responsibility for, have caused trouble with a small minority of the people I have worked for. They would like to believe they have punished me accordingly but the reality is I simply chosen to defend my free speech and right to challenge others as a true activist as opposed to working with organisations that are frightened of the challenge to the current power dimensions of oppression that exists.
I had two main trolls this year and this new technique has appeared to work well as both trolls quickly stopped after their actions were brought into their real world. One troll was a deputy mayor of a West Country town who potentially represented the whole town in his attacks of myself, and so I made a number of officials of the town aware of the implications legally for the town.
If my trolls were confident in their actions, they would have had the support of their real life peers, or had not cared about the real life consequences,. and continued to abuse me. My next step would have been to go public about their peer acceptance of their abusive behaviour.
The moral of this tale is never mess with this drooling spastic because despite looking like an easy target who has chosen to be a political outcast, I will fight back hard in ways people will not expect!
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