Many of you familiar with the blog know that this is not the first time I’ve spoken about trolls and cyber-bullying. This topic remains important. Too many victims of cyberbullies have taken their own lives. Others have experienced little to no help from Social Media Resources (Facebook is a joke, Twitter is trying, and Tumblr. doesn’t do anything as far as I can tell) and suffer ill health from the relentless abuse for which there is no recourse.
Last month, I was faced by a known troll in a political activism group, who continues to freely harass the members, in an attempt to win them to the Green Party (I’m more convinced that he’s trying to destroy the Green Party and may actually be a conservative operative, which I will explain later). I’ve questioned his abrasive posts on several occasions, which won his focus. This was fine. I’m used to being the one they come at, because I am one of the very few who questions their presence in the groups, while other members sit on their hands—or worse, believe the crap they spout and let them destroy the groups we’ve built. Their corrosive behavior is coddled, even encouraged as some twisted faith to free speech.
When I posted his harassment, which turned sexual in nature, I was banned by Facebook for 30-days. Yes, you read that correctly. Facebook sided with a sexual harasser, removing my screen shot of his comments and my warning to other members. I’ve written to the company, but as of yet (2 weeks into my sentence as I write this) I have heard nothing. This is their modus operandi. It’s disgusting, I know. But, maybe it’s more indicative of Facebook’s inability to provide a truly quality product? Smoke and mirrors, hiding behind a circle jerk help feature, and hiding their contact information is a sure indication of a HUGE problem. But, that won’t leave them safe from the fallout they’ve guaranteed.
Sexual harassment is one of the go to classic troll behaviors used to shut down or trigger the victim. Some trolls frequent comment sections on journals and websites, waiting for someone to post something to which they can respond with their wind-up. The wind-up is an offensive or abusive statement made to basically flick the nose of the intended victim. Intended victims can be random and they can be someone the troll has decided to stalk online.
How does a troll know what will wind-up a victim? They have a lot of practice. They’re ass holes, for one. They spend all day talking-shit online to people they don’t know. It’s been proven that this comes from a place of deep unhappiness, and the desire is to make someone else as miserable as they are. However, there are those who simply are sociopaths. You know, the guys that like to see things burn, and if there are puppies and babies in that inferno, all the better for the troll’s gratification. They have zero empathy and will never be able to feel empathy. Their brain is incapable of it. Instead, they delight in causing pain, triggering traumatic memories explicitly. This makes them feel good. Sure thing it is sick, especially when it leads to someone becoming ill or dying.
Trolls do not care. To them, your death or illness is a trophy. That’s what they seek. Unfortunately, it’s easier said than done to toughen up even knowing this. Some people are simply not built with infinite resiliency, and no they are not Special Snowflakes. Don’t forget, you never know the battle someone is fighting behind the scenes. Not everyone airs their laundry, online or otherwise. That’s why being kind is imperative, and empathetic individuals consider this in their interactions. A troll considers this in the wind-up. They will even click on your profile to see if they can learn anything about you. For instance, (and if I had a dollar for every time some disgruntled chuff-muffin said this) they’ll go to my page, see that I’m a blogger and tell me I suck as a writer and I’m a fake. That would cut me to the quick if I believed that you literally just purchased all my books and read them and my blog in the matter of a couple minutes. Color me impressed by such a feat! But that doesn’t matter in a wind-up. What they’re looking for is the broken link in your armor. Who doesn’t know that writers have struggled to be taken seriously, often for years? It’s a hallmark of the
profession. So this is a really easy wind-up. Sometimes it will find its mark, because the person it’s aimed at is already dealing with too much and this was the straw that broke the camel’s back. They also use your profile picture to gather information, and then throw assumptions based on the visual. For instance, comments on your appearance and being single if you’re woman. Because stereotypes tell them that women value their appearances and who they’re with above all other things. Sure that works on some, but for the most part that’s a shot in the dark women laugh at. If any react incredulous, it’s at the sexist notion that drives such assumptions.
If that doesn’t work, because they can tell with little question that I am a woman, they resort to trying to scare me with sexual harassment and implied or blatant threats of rape. Using street style sexual harassment is almost always the the next step used against women when they don’t back down from the fight, and are owning the wee troll. Why? Because women fear Rape and the troll has to man up to this task. They know what women fear because it’s talked about everywhere and thus taught them. What is not taught, however, is that sexual assault leaves very real traumatic injuries on the victim and triggering this causes further damage. Essentially, the troll becomes an accessory after the fact. What else is not discussed is that one in four women will experience sexual assault by her 2oth birthday, and how utterly despicable that fact’s existence should be to every human. Trolls know the numbers, and they bank on them. Game, set, match? Hardly.
Instead of trying to prove them wrong, should you chose to engage these fellows, say something like: You’ve read my work? I’m so pleased! That is wonderful. Thanks for the feedback, but I’m not interested in meeting men/women on (insert social media site or website here).
Why would you do that? Because you just unwound their wind-up. Certainly they can turn this back around, if they’re quick witted. Very few are. More likely, you just wound their ass up. So be prepared for further insults. But, remain ever calm, because losing your shit is their goal. Not losing your shit is what you must give them instead. Stick with me on this. I know they deserve their rancid asses kicked White Chapel style, but nothing will give them more pain and suffering than your lack of hurt. I’ve had rape threats. You bet that is unnerving, especially for a survivor. Remember that rape threats should be reported to the authorities. Screen grab that and get a link to their page. March your butt over to this site to learn what your next steps are. That screen image is imperative. Don’t do a thing until you’ve saved it. You can report it to Facebook, but they’ll tell you it’s not a violation of their community standards (because that’s what they told me).
It is inevitable that you’ll meet a troll that stalks your page. Trolls can be acquaintances, friends, and even family, not just strangers you meet in a comment section. God forbid that you use a hashtag that attracts the likes of insecure males such as #feminism or #mansplaining (Facebook banned me for 7 days for using that one because they help bullies, not normal users). You’ll get reported, have your post taken down or your page suspended for days, probably both. You might even post something that rubs a friend or family member the wrong way. Instead of moving on, they take it upon themselves to fix you. In reality, we all know who needs to be fixed. If someone can’t move on, scroll on, get on with life, they have issues that need to be addressed. Don’t believe them, especially those pesky family members who always act like they know best, when they intervene in such a manner, or even via private message and in person. Of course, I mean that within reason, because none of us are absolutely perfect, but you know when you’re being reprimanded for something you have the perfect right to express.
How do you deal? Hopefully you’ve taken a screen-capture of the incident. Then you can keep a record like I have been doing and go to the Attorney General of your State or the ACLU if the incident is sexual/racial harassment. Let’s be honest, as my piece on How Facebook Supports Trolls explains, Facebook doesn’t care and their bots handle this. They’ve yet to be strung up by their toes for their blatant mismanagement of the issue. Yet, Twitter is getting fried about their lack of response on bullying despite their active role in attempting to stem the tide. Because bots handle the issue, trolls use the reporting system to attack their targets. Because Facebook hides behind this, there is no recourse for people being abused by their system. Whatever they report lands a ban or removal of content, and I have yet to figure out why their report is more credible than the one that points out obvious abuse. I know, because I’ve had it done to me so frequently, and Facebook has blocked me from using messenger and I also cannot reply to the notice, because I have questioned this. So, the few employees charged with reviewing items get in on the act or retribution. I mean it when I say, they really don’t care. I have copies of comments that are clearly racist, sexist, and/or abusive and the responses that none of them violate Facebook Community Standards. Time to package those puppies up and send them on to the ACLU. Facebook is skating on thin ice.
All of our maneuvering to deal with trolls nets their snickering. They know all this! They seek to destroy your pages/profiles as a revenge for speaking back to them, or breathing, whichever. While trolls are largely mentally challenged fap-boys, they do learn from one another, and they do learn the system from experience. They might get banned, but they learn what caused it, and then they use it as tool to continue their campaign of disorder. Often, when they’re getting their ass handed to them, they’ll bring in a friend. Mostly, they just want to chew up your time and trigger a reaction. Above all, they want to sew discord and cause pain, because they crave these things.
It must suck to have this as your goal in life. I mean seriously.
So what do you do about it? Keep reporting the offensive content regardless of social media’s inability or missing desire to do a thing about it. It’s not a waste of your time, because it creates a record. Take a screen shot of the comment and the Facebook response and put it in a safe file. Once you have several instances, report Facebook to your AG and the ACLU, because enough is enough. If you’re serious about ending online bullying, that is the path to take.
Above all, remember that these seriously flawed individuals will do anything and say anything to get your reaction. If you don’t give it to them, they starve. If you must respond, familiarize yourself with their tactics (wind-up, trigger, and repeat. Don’t forget to pretend that you’re innocent of saying anything offensive at all, and that the other person started it). Secondly, don’t stand by when someone is doing this on a thread you’re taking part on. That’s just being an accessory. Thirdly, you can document and report them without having taken part in the exchange. It is your business, because it does affect you whether you want to believe it or not. Fourth, do not abandon someone you call a friend to handle such a situation on their own. Trolls thrive when they’re allowed to corner their victims alone. Shining a light on them is a quick way to get rid of them and remove their power.