Saturday, April 25, 2015

iDUBBY: How to Handle Trolls in Social Media

I found this picture on the web and it captures the spirit of trolling: an ugly cuss who quite enjoys vile, who will use the politics of personal destruction early and often even when the topic is abstract and there are no personal issues in play. They collect information, twist it and then in short quick bursts piss in the punchbowl.

I call this fellow iDUBBY to remember how one handles him. With most social media platforms such as Facebook, there is an order of operations that will get rid of iDUBBYs when they invade your space.

  • i - ignore: Ignoring them is the first operation because you need to establish if they are a troll or if someone is just getting online before they have their coffee. Everyone farts as Benjamin Franklin said and ignoring it is better than a conversation on that topic. Unless you are very funny but then you might start a round of counterfarts.
  • D - Delete: Do this because you don't want a counterfart conversation and you don't want the comment in your post. Some think it rude so don't be oversensitive either. Simply being offtopic is not really a delete offense. Guide them back to the conversation unless they persist.
  • U - Unfriend: If you establish to your satisfaction this is a troll or someone who goes personal when uncalled for or is repeatedly making things smelly, you should uninvite them to the party. Now this is the first really truly personal move you make that cannot go unnoticed. Also some people bring out the troll in you. It may be family, a friend, but the fact is something in the relationship doesn't work online for you or for them and it is best if you don't talk in public. Remember that unfriending doesn't stop them from seeing posts you make as Public posts. They can search for your name on Google and the posts will be there. They can still message you so if you want to converse one on one, it is still possible. So think of it as the good fences make good neighbors policy. It may not be personal; just smart networking.
  • B - Block: Blocking is the nuclear option. When you put someone on a block list you are stuffing them into the negative space of the social coordinates. You not only don't want to chat, you don't want messages that unfriending still permits. You don't want them to see your posts on other pages. You don't want to hear them inhale a breath. Blocking is death for the dead as the movie spook said. Use this sparingly if ever and if you find you are creating a long blocking list you may wish to take a long look at yourself in the social mirror to see if you are attracting trolls. Blocking is for exes who refuse to let go or real enemies who hate your sock collection. This is for the boss who spies on you or the co-worker who collects dirt. Sad but so, this doesn't always work because people acquire false name accounts and then whatever you post publicly is still there for them or you friend them again. A careful consistent use of the filtering options on Facebook, for example, is the best strategy for handling conversations. If you don't want it on the five o'clock news, don't say it. If it is sensitive, keep it among close friends. If you want to start the fight, go public and put up your Mortimer and Randolph.
  • B - Boot: Booting is after a block. You go through previous conversations, blogs, etc., and delete every comment, post or fart the troll or you ever made to each other. In other words you de-reference them so that search engines won't assume a relationship. It is drastic and tedious to boot someone. Sometimes the person you want to boot is you.
  • Y - Yell: Ask for help by reporting them to the site administrator. Most social apps have dialogs for doing this. Try to limit yelling for cases where a person goes so far over the line from being a troll to threats of violence, etc. Don't hesitate to do it but don't use it for punitive measures or politics. Then you will become the troll.
  • Social media implies a responsibility to preserve your own reputation even if it means shutting up. It also implies a responsibility to be smart and non-reactive. Again, sometimes the person stayed too long at the nachos and dip bowl and then failed to slip outside for a smoke before moving on to the anchovies. Best to tolerate what is not too odoriferous or move next to the band where the noise drowns out the heavy sighs.

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