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How to Feed a Human Troll

Everyone has an opinion about something. We’re entitled to that and it is protected by the constitution. Nonetheless , freedom of speech is a double edged sword especially in the digital age. The ability to express yourself is a gift not afforded to everyone, but when it gets out of control with attacks from random strangers on the internet, then that becomes a whole different problem.

When my older daughter was four years old, she loved Ryan on Nickelodeon. Below Ryan’s show on YouTube, there were 150 thousand likes and 75 thousand dislikes. I turned to her dad and said, “Can you believe that under a video about hands and feet (possibly something else), 75 thousand people took time to out of their day to express their dislike for a cute video?”

It was baffling to me. The comment section is truly where the show was at, because it got worse there. People were really showing their true colors and coming in for the kill. It wasn’t just a few. There were so many of them. All seeking attention from a little boy and his family, because that’s what trolling really is. It is the attention seeking behavior of unhappy and toxic people.

As more people desire to connect through online communities, trolls have increased their presence. So many people have lost that sense of caution that would be exercised in face-to-face interactions, and with the protection of not being visible, they unleash their worst behaviors and thoughts.

They are the type who speak the loudest with nothing valuable to say. They lack any sort of critical thinking skills and are quick to rebut, “Well, that’s my opinion,” or “I’m entitled to my opinion.” They refuse to do the groundwork required to make a valid contribution to a conversation, but rather just like hearing themselves talk or they’re just enjoy gaslighting others.

Illustration by Jessica Hagy

Our collective silence, and the use of bots have increased trolling. Unfortunately, it becomes a situation of either protecting your peace or engaging a troll, which is almost always a losing battle. Talking to the wall is more fruitful than talking to an actual troll. If you feel compelled to engage a troll, here are some useful tips on how to defeat trolls.

The old adage kill ‘em with kindness is still relevant.

Some people will be who they are are, no matter what you say to them. If you choose to engage a human troll, just rebut with facts and logic without belittling them or debasing yourself in one statement. Anything more than one statement becomes a conversation and when it comes to trolls, they deserve very little, to not an ounce of your time.

Trolls are people in pain who want to inflict it on others. Their behavior is a cry for attention and them lashing out. As they carry on with their undignified behavior, it is our collective responsibility to not feed into it negatively. After all, being a human troll is hard work and at some point, if we all continue, facts and logic will wear them out.

If not, the block button works beautifully.


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