They Be Trolling

harry-potter-troll4 (1)

The picture above is a still from Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.

This post follows up on a sentiment I expressed in my ‘How will men be able to respect you?‘ post as well as responding to something Tessa Violet said in her ‘How I Deal With Internet Hate‘ video. The sentiment I am referring to is that ‘you are responsible for your own actions’.

Something I see and hear constantly online is that simply existing online, whether your posting pictures of your nail designs on Instagram or filming your trips abroad and uploading them to YouTube, is that you have to expect hate. In fact by uploading what you are uploading you may as well be asking for it.

This follows on from Tessa’s statement that she does not like the term ‘troll’ to refer to people who are abusive in their comments online in whatever form that takes. At first I wasn’t sure if I agreed but the more I think about it the more I do. Referring to someone as a troll offers them a disguise, a mystical beast to hide behind and a role to legitimise their behaviour.

Although using the term troll is meant to diminish the importance of this person’s comments and the effect they have on you that rarely works. Whether I refer to someone as a troll because they called me a ‘femi-nazi c*nt’ or make an inappropriate sexual pass at me does not often make much difference in regards to how that comment affects me; that has more to do with the place I am in mentally that day.

That is not to say you should take it upon yourself to convince every single person who posts hateful comments on your social media that they are wrong even if they most likely are. Some people refuse to be reasoned with and have set out with the express purpose to rattle you that day. In these cases you’re beating your head against a brick wall and I’m an unashamed advocate of blocking or muting people who are causing you mental pain.

This is how the idea ‘you have to expect it’ and ‘what did you expect when you uploaded yourself to YouTube’ functions as well. It removes responsibility from the person leaving the inappropriate and cruel comments on others’ content. The perpetrator is to blame for what they say and nobody else, certainly not the victim of their online harassment or abuse. These statements, however, reverse the roles of both parties to make the commenter the passive party when they are in fact making an active decision.

This is not a reference to constructive criticism, which is another discussion in itself. I am all for constructive criticism but criticism is not always constructive and therefore simply remains to be criticism. Engaging in a mature discussion about politics or criticising someone for being racist with the hope of demonstrating to this person why what they said is wrong is one thing. Telling someone they look like a ‘sl*t’ or their eye-makeup is disgusting when they are trying to talk about their experience of homophobia or even just celebrating their birthday, is quite another.

And don’t get me started on the ‘that’s just my opinion’ defence.

I’m not here to remind you that there is real person behind that blog post or that video; if you haven’t gathered that by now there is nothing I can do to help you. And if that doesn’t in some way make you consider what you are about to say to that person, even behind an anonymous username and avatar, then so be it, that is a reflection on your person and not a great one at that.

I’m here to say to anyone uploading content online that you do not deserve hate simply for wanting to create.


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