I look a bit crazy in this photo, but I'm trying a new white eyeliner, it makes my eyes look like they're popping out of my head. Haha
I wrote an article.
It was controversial, divisive, hurtful, thought-provoking etc – call it what you will.
But I still just wrote an article.
Oh and by the way, in case you were wondering, or labouring under a misapprehension, in hindsight (as in, knowing what I know now), I’d still write that article.
On a scale of one to ten, one being realistic and level-headed, and ten being plain dotty; I can safely say that the past week has exposed me to everything… and more.
From what I’ve gathered so far, my article was some kind of doomsday device, that basically ripped apart the very fabrics of our space-time continuum. I’m kidding – obviously – but some of the things I’ve been accused of, have clearly just snowballed into manic proportions.
There will always be trolls.
Deal with it.
This sounds so simplistic, but it’s true.
I don’t condone it for a second. Nor do I fully understand that twisted glee that some people get from personally attacking strangers, but it exists and it doesn’t look like it’s going away any time soon. So long as sad people can make fake profiles and hide their identity online – internet trolls are here to stay.
But, let’s be clear – I don’t think that all criticism is trolling.
It’s part of the job description and I am always prepared for people to disagree with me. Critique is a natural part of life, of growing and makes for a better conversation. Accepting this and understanding the importance of variations to the narrative, doesn’t make me wishy washy, it makes me willing and open to hear other people’s opinions, mull it over, and decide whether I want to take it in or not.
The final decision on what goes on in my mind, however, is my prerogative.
Most of us have the privilege of knowing being able to accept the simple truth that, cursing or swearing at someone, will never make for a compelling argument. People switch off if you hurl a barrage of insults their way.
That being said, when it leaves the realm of heated disagreement and it starts becoming personal, racial, sexist etc. it becomes trolling.
All you have to do, is decide if you can actually take it.
Ask yourself this, if someone who doesn’t know you, has never met you, decides that you are any number of evils – why do you care?
Sure, we are all seeing acceptance and love, but by people like this?
Words are powerful, and have the ability to make or break people, but at the end of the day, they are just twisted, heated spouts of air. So why on earth would you voluntarily absorb all that negativity?
In my case, some people actively decided to take time from their busy lives, to stalk me on cyberspace. And after seeing pictures of me travelling in Asia, with my Asian friends (the last time I checked, Asia is full of well… Asians), speaking Asian languages, decided that all the evidence pointed to me being a ‘racist’, and also someone who is ‘trying to be Asian’.
They also saw pictures of me with the German and sent some racist things, that I won’t even dare repear. I found this particularly amusing because of the fact that these were the same people who first put forward the argument of racism being used against them, immediately turned around and use it as their weapon. I lost interest.
I was never raised to be a racist, and I certainly won’t start now.
One guy in particular, never even mentioned the article, but he did make a lovely picture that has been shared on instagram about me. I printed it out and it’s now in my scrapbook as just another memory of a thing that happened – like that time my quad bike broke in the jungle, or the time I got chased by a crazy grey squirrel.
It happens, you move on. They clearly don’t.
Think about it this way, they’ve never had a real conversation with you, and they never will, so their entire argument if based on assumptions that they’ve picked out for you – from within themselves.
Trolls are human beings too.
If anything, being trolled has actually made me feel sorry for them. Because, whenever I have read something that has angered me, I have never had that type of reaction.
For instance, I once read an article from my university, about a study at a nearby college that apparently ‘discovered’ that black women were the most undesirable women; on the planet. Sure, I wrote some heated emails to my friends expressing my distaste and we discussed it – but then I moved on.
Because even though I work in cyberspace – my actual life is all around me.
For those that immediately jump to post such venomous responses to the author, or go as far as to stalk the author, it’s clear that something traumatic has happened (or even continues to happen) to them.
It’s a cliche but it’s true that, the ones that lash out the most are the ones that are hurting the most. So why would I even respond?
Here are a few things you should certainly try if ever you’re being trolled:
1. Don’t immediately jump to the defensive/offensive.
Twitter’s word restriction is a pain and sometimes can lead to misunderstandings. I actually encountered some people who thought that I was a troll. But it was only after we chatted (and I kept my tone polite), that we were able to get some dialogue going. We didn’t see eye to eye on everything, but at least it didn’t escalate into name calling.
Of course there will always be those people who take your politeness and level-headed attitude as being condescending, but you just have to accept you can’t win them all over.
2.If they’re body shaming, cursing you… ignore them.
If you want to, and I have actually done that, you can respond, but 9/10 times they really are just looking to try and rile you up. You’ll be fanning the flames if you respond and it really is a waste of time.
3. Learn about privacy.
My fb profile was open for a while. Big mistake.
A lot of trolls are using fake accounts, so why would you disclose your real details. Be savvy and make sure only your real trusted friends can see what you’re up to etc.
4. Block them.
Believe it or not, but you’re under no obligation to respond. Sure you may have written an article but that doesn’t mean that day in day out, for the rest of your life, you’re fair game to anyone looking for a fight. If someone wants to ask you a question and they start it off rudely, you don’t need to say anything to them. If you want, you can use that block button liberally and block away!
After all that’s said and done, you should never live the life someone expects you to.
Trolls can only affect you, if you let them. So don’t.
I am black. I have faced varying degrees of racism my entire life, and I’m certain I will continue to do so. But, to let it define me, become my whole entire narrative, to let it stop me from living the life that I want to… is pointless.
I have but this one life to live and so do you.
If you want to waste yours chasing me, while I’m chasing my dreams, then by a by all means go ahead. Keep posting on my twitter, sending me racist emails about my family and friends. etc
If it gets remotely irritating, I’ll just block you.
Thanks for stopping by
Zipporah Gene x
For more information on dealing with trolling, please visit these sites:
Makeuseof.com – 5 Effective ways of dealing with trolls
99u.com – confessions of a former troll
Psychology Today – The psychology of internet trolls
Janet Fouts – Never feed the trolls, a personal account of being trolled for a year
How journalists can cope with trolls – useful resources for journalists on trolls
Rahul Roushan – a funny article on the dynamics of trolling.