7 Smart Ways to Deal With Internet Trolls

The wisest way to deal with an internet troll is to ignore them. But there are other smart ways to go about it, depending on the situation.

Cyberbullies and internet trolls have become a thing in our world today. If you are going to make it big on the internet, you will certainly encounter one. If you don’t encounter one on your way to the top, you will experience several after you have attained some success or status.

Nowadays, people get depressed from something an internet troll said. Most of the time, the troll is nameless and faceless. And their words are structured to be as painful as possible.

I think trolls are depressed people (or people who are feeling intense pain) who are trying to pass it to you. Their words give a pleasurable feeling to their wounds. And when you get hurt by it or get some of the energy they are trying to send you, they win.

I have heard some young people go as far as committing suicide based on what some anonymous person said to them online. Why do we take things so personally?

Whenever you see the comment of an internet troll, just imagine a case where you know who exactly the person is. Then imagine you are the boss of that person at work. And that you hired the person after the person was fired at a previous job. Think about how the comment would sound in such a scenario.

Think about what the comment would look like in a different circumstance. If it’s coming from someone you know in real life, you should cut ties with them.

There are seven smart ways to go about it to respond to trolls on the internet:

1. Ignore Them

No matter how long, detailed, and damaging the comments are, they are best ignored. And this means to act like you didn’t see it. It doesn’t matter how much visibility it gets; it’s not worth it to get drawn into the mud.

However, if someone is trying to debate reasonably and raises good points that challenge your stand, that’s not a troll. A troll often throws personal attacks. And the personal attacks are often damaging, or they are with the intention of inflicting pain.

To ignore anything that looks like a troll is the safest option. If you are unsure whether a comment is a troll or not, you are better positioned when you just ignore than to assume it’s a fair comment.

Never argue with a troll. Criticisms that attack your personality can be classified as trolling. However, just because someone criticizes some of your actions or decisions doesn’t make them a troll. The question you ask yourself is if they are judging you or defining you by something you did that they don’t like.

If you don’t understand it, just ignore it.

2. Agree With Them (the Way of Sarcasm)

Sarcasm is a good way of getting back at a troll. But you must be careful not to become the very monster you are trying to avoid. The way of sarcasm here is to agree with the troll.

For example, if you are called an idiot for some reason, start your reply with a thoughtful answer that seems you are in agreement. Perhaps you start with that thinking face emoji. Then you go on to mention a particular result you got that trolls obviously don’t get.

You must be careful with this so you don’t dig yourself into a deeper hole. Do not mention something private about you. Mention only something that everybody else knows.

If you are used to sarcasm and you’re good at it, you can even go deeper. Using that same “idiot” example, you could agree and add something completely unrelated like “I nearly burnt my dinner last night. I guess you have a point”. The point here is to mention something everybody else does. Another example is “I kept trying to start my car last week after I suspected the battery was dead”.

This is for the sarcasm pros though. Don’t do it if you are going to be bothered by it later.

3. Compliment Them

Some trolls don’t intend to be trolls. They just happen to be in the fiery heat of their emotions at the moment. If you sense this particular case, find something about them and compliment it.

A compliment is very powerful. It dissipates angry emotions in a very powerful way. Find something to like about the comment they made. If they still go on to be trolls, then you can apply the first and safe method.

Sometimes the biggest compliment is a sincere agreement. A compliment changes the mood of the discussion entirely. This is especially applicable when the supposed troll is someone you know and respect. You would want to assume it is unintentional at first.

4. Confuse Them

How do you confuse trolls? It’s simple. You reply with an absolutely irrelevant thought. Maybe someone attacked you because of where you stand in politics. You reply with something about food.

This response must be such that the troll is convinced you sent the reply to the wrong person. Let’s assume the troll attacked you based on your political view, and you reply with “strawberry toppings. Thanks”. You could even go into great detail about food.

The point here is for the troll to be absolutely convinced you have their comment mistaken for another. After this, you completely ignore them.

5. Grant Them Publicity (Let Others Do the Work)

If you are quite famous or you have a serious following, you could make the troll eat their own words. You take the comments of the troll, perhaps a snapshot of it, and share it with your audience.

You let your audience rip the comment into shreds. You caption your post with a neutral stance and invite your audience to take shots at it. This is like giving a troll a taste of their own medicine. Things like this are often fun to watch. But it may also go out of hand.

Some people just abandon the troll after putting them out in the public. Others like to watch what transpires as a result. But one thing is sure — it will teach you a thing or two about human psychology.

6. Correct Their Grammar or Spelling

This is very common on Twitter. Often, it is another person who supports you that gets back at the troll in this way. But you could do it, too.

People make crazy grammar and spelling mistakes now in the age of the internet. For some, autocorrect is to blame. Some have just been used to bad spelling and grammar for too long. Others really don’t know they are wrong.

One of the most common mistakes trolls make is using “your” instead of “you’re”. And trolls make mistakes like this because they are commenting in the heat of their emotions. So they will either be blind (and not see) or oblivious (see it but not notice it) to their mistake.

7. Ask an Innocent Question and Ignore Their Answer

Trolls often have time. If you give them the chance, they will want to troll you more. This means you can take advantage of this. Make them assume they have your attention, and then never look again in their direction.

A troll will likely take the chance to throw more jabs at you when you ask an innocent question. But the point is to leave them hanging. Don’t even read, let alone interact with, the reply to their response. This is the game people play when they leave messages unread for weeks and months. And when they finally decide to reply, they reply with something like “k”.

This could go both ways. That is why you don’t do this to a responsible troll. This is best done to the troll that has all the time in the world. You can tell by the length of their troll comment.

Now that you know the seven smart ways to deal with trolls, I have to tell you something very important:

Don’t be a troll.

Speak your mind. Be as critical as you wish. Be articulate. Think before you make a comment. Separate the person from the act or opinion in your response. Be noble. Don’t be an internet troll.

Illustrated by David O.