Monday, July 2, 2012

Picking Fights with Trolls

Last year, I received a couple of really long, nasty, angry rants from someone who'd read one of my posts about online dating. I think it was from the same person, even though one of the comments was left by an "anonymous" commenter and the other one left his name (though his profile didn't include any links to any blogs).

The commenter was very hostile towards me and towards all women, making comments about how unfair it was that women were in control of the dating scene. He whined about the fact that he'd messaged several women on online dating sites but most of them hadn't responded. He also said that my standards were too high and that I should be more "forgiving" of the flaws that I saw in guys' profiles. He said that the fact that I wasn't willing to overlook those flaws was why I was still single. According to this jerk, I was one of those superficial, self-centered, mean girls who never gave guys a chance.

What bothered me most weren't his insults towards me. It was that he blamed women for the fact that he was single. Yes, there are women on online dating sites who never try to make the first move; they just sit back and wait for the guys to message them first. There are women who judge guys solely by their pictures or who will dismiss guys because they don't make enough money. But I am NOT like that, and for him to claim that I was showed how much of a hypocrite he was; he was judging me in exactly the same way that he accused me of judging other guys. Not to mention there are plenty of superficial guys as well.

I thought about responding to this jerk, who was obviously very unhappy about the fact that he was single and took out his anger on me. It's not just guys who get rejected, so it bugged me that this creep was acting as if only guys were "victims".

I follow several blogs about online dating and the single life, and there's often at least one commenter like that guy who leaves nasty comments on every post. One blogger I followed had to deal with a particularly hostile troll (who was female). This troll left at least six or seven comments on every single post that the blogger wrote, criticizing her for the way that she lived. I think it's one thing to express your opinion, but it's another thing altogether to harass someone and try to force them to accept your perspective. This blogger eventually shut down her blog, and I think it was largely because of that troll's despicable behavior.

There are trolls everywhere. They show up in the comments section of online news articles and Youtube videos. They fall into several categories.

1. The Never Gets Laid Troll: This type of person makes sexist comments or crude jokes about men or women (usually celebrities), because apparently this troll thinks that derogatory jokes are attractive.

2. The Grammar Police Troll: There's always at least one person who's complaining about spelling/grammatical errors. What's ironic is that this person often has grammatical errors in his/her own comments.

3. The Anti-Politicians Troll: I read a lot of online news articles about crime, and on almost every post there's always at least one person who will be quick to blame the president or some other politician for whatever bad thing happened in the article.

4. The Racist Troll: This type of troll offends me to no end. It's people like this one that make me think that there should be limits on freedom of speech.

5. The Wanna Fight Troll: This type of troll insults all the other commenters, so that you'll often see random commenters fighting with each other. It'd be funny if it also weren't kind of sad.

6. The I Beg to Differ Troll: No matter what you write, this person will disagree with you and point out all the reasons that you're wrong. (I also think of this kind of troll as the Know-it-All Troll, or the I-Think-I'm-Smarter-than-Everyone-and-That's-Why-I-Have-No-Friends Troll.)

7. The Spammer Troll: These people leave comments that have nothing to do with the article or post and everything to do with promoting their scams. Spammers often leave comments with links to their "businesses" or websites on my posts, which makes me mad. It's one thing if advertisers e-mail me to ask if I'd be willing to promote their products. But these trolls don't even ask my permission to leave links on my blog. I always delete them.

8. The Anonymous Troll: Not all anonymous commenters are trolls, and not all of them are mean. But I've found that a lot of them do leave nasty comments, because they would never have the courage to say any of those things in real life. That's why I removed the Anonymous option in my comments section.

People often say: don't feed the troll. And I think they're right. I realized that responding to this loser was probably what he was looking for, because he probably wanted me to defend myself so that he could keep attacking me. But I was still tempted to fight back and stand up for myself.

I chose not to respond to his comments, which probably reinforced his belief that all women ignored him and it wasn't his fault at all. Even so, just thinking about mean people like that makes me angry. I have to deal with enough jerks like that in real life; I don't want to have to deal with them online, too.

I don't understand why people become trolls anyway. I think they must be very lonely, angry, bitter people, and they choose to deal with it by attacking strangers online.

Fortunately, most of the other bloggers I've come across are very kind, friendly, and encouraging. The connections I've made through blogging are why I continue to blog.

What about you? What do you think of trolls? Have you ever encountered any on your blog, or have you ever seen any mean comments left on other blogs? How do you think they should be dealt with?


  1. I have (knock on wood) never been "trolled" on my personal blog, although I've taken quite a pounding on a site that I write for (it's billed as a feminist blog, though, so I suppose that's to be expected).

    Your parsing of the definition of troll had me laughing so hard it wasn't even funny.

    And incidentally, you are absolutely right about guys and online dating. When I was giving online dating a try, I had more guys asking what bra size I am, if I'd send nude pictures, if I enjoyed partaking in certain activities, and so on. It was crazy!

    Just keep smiling ... life is beautiful :-)

    1. Hi KLo,
      That's awful that those guys on those sites were asking you that. I wonder why they think those questions are appropriate, much less appealing? Sheesh.
      I'm sorry that you've encountered trolls on the feminist blog. No one deserves that. Those trolls should start their own blogs rather than bother other people on their blogs.

  2. I love your troll run down! I've heard some real horror stories from people - trolls even managed to somehow get mobile numbers and home address, and made threats. It seems totally random who they choose to target, and that randomness is what makes it even scarier.

    I think you did the right thing ignoring the troll.

    1. Hi Talli,
      That's so bad that those trolls would threaten people. There should be more laws to protect people against trolls like that.
      I didn't write about that troll until now because I had the feeling that he would watch my blog to see if I would write about him; then he would probably come back to the blog and attack me again.

  3. I'm sorry to read that you had to deal with that! It's really hard to understand why people would turn as passionately nasty as that. What do they think that achieves? Very strange... And I think you did the right thing ignoring that troll.

    I don't know if you filter comments already, but if you don't, you might consider that. As much as I am in favour of free speech, I reserve the right for myself to delete (or not give permission to) comments that cross the line between dissent and aggression. Luckily I haven't had to deal with something like that on my own blog, but I've had to deal with it before.

    1. Hi Cresting the Words,
      I think that guy was convinced that it was everyone else's fault but his that he was single. But I'm willing to bet that there was something in his profile that women didn't like. I think he should have just taken responsibility for his own lack of success than blame and attack other people like me.
      I thought about filtering comments, but what I do is have all the comments e-mailed to me. Since I'm online most of the time anyway, I can always just click over to my blog and delete any comments that I don't like; I always delete the ones from spammers.

  4. I wonder why that guy is single...

    You have shown how many guys have unrealistic standards. I think if Mr. Anonymous really read your pieces, he'd know how many times you've been thrown around in this dating world. You write with emotion and humor. Don't listen to guys like him!

    1. Hi Theresa,
      I'm willing to bet that guy is still single. I'm also willing to bet that his hostility towards women comes out not just online but offline, which would definitely make most women not want to date him.
      I was tempted to respond to that guy, because even now his complaints make me angry. But thank you for the encouragement. It makes me feel better. :)

  5. Wow. That's quite the breakdown! I don't think you missed anyone. Yes, there are a lot of trolls. My high school English teacher was one. He even looked like one. He picked on me incessantly.
    The problem with trolls is that you can't reason with them.

    1. Hi Emily,
      Wow, people like your English teacher shouldn't be teaching. You're right that you can't reason with trolls. They're so convinced that they're right all the time (even though they're not). I also think they're looking for a fight, so they'll keep attacking people in an attempt to provoke them.

  6. I think you're absolutely right - that they're angry, bitter people. Thank goodness they have the internet to turn to for comfort. You're also right to not waste a second of your time in responding - hard as that is to do. Let them troll somewhere else.

    1. Hi Nicki,
      It was hard not to respond, especially because I knew he was wrong. But I think that he's one of those people who's always convinced that he's right, despite all evidence to the contrary. I can't help wondering if his hostile attitude towards women is evident to other people, particularly other women. I'm willing to bet that it is.