When we were kids, we didn’t have computers and the Internet, Xbox and Game Boy. We had hockey sticks, balls, trucks and books of fairy tales by people like Hans Christian Andersen and the Brothers Grimm. Those books were full of mystical stories about wonderous creatures that included sorcerers, fairies, elves, unicorns, giants and…….trolls.
Trolls were ugly little creatures that, for the most part, lived under bridges and in caves. They were dangerous and at six years old, we were rightly frightened of them.
Later, I would learn that the mythology of trolls originated in the Scandanavian countries, primarily Denmark where originally they were considered to be the spirits that lived inside rocks and other inanimate objects. Later, they would evolve to take on a human-like form. Usually they were ugly creatures although in some tales, they were not.
I still remember those old stories somewhat wistfully because we lose that sense of wonder and the ability to believe in things that are magically, even if they are a little scary. All too soon, I became aware that fairies and elves, unicorns and sorcerers don’t exist but trolls do.
Trolls are real. They walk among us and can be found all over the Internet.
Internet trolls are the ones who post highly inflammatory (and usually incorrect) messages across social media and in chat rooms. They surf the web looking for memorial sites where they can leave hateful, spiteful messages that denigrate the deceased and which are designed to hurt those who mourn.
Internet trolls frequently jump into conversations which are none of their business, hurl insults at one or another in the conversation until it becomes impossible for the original participants to continue. They act alone and they act in groups. They are cowards, bullies and lack any standard of recognizable values.
Some think these trolls exist primarily because the anonymity the Internet provides allows trolls to bring out the worst in themselves. But I think it is something else that causes people to become trolls.
I believe trolls are insecure people with small, petty lives in the real world. They are lonely nobodies crying out for attention in any way they can get it. They are ill-informed on most issues, have little interest in becoming informed and their self-esteem is so low that they are threatened by anyone who challenges their shallow beliefs and opinions.
I get accosted by one or more trolls every day. I don’t take it all that seriously because I see them for what they are; sad, pathetic people with pathetic lives but others, most of whom are more sensitive than I am, often take these troll attacks to heart and are either intimidated or hurt by them.
I have had friends on Twitter who have been bullied to the point of closing their account and for no other reason than because trolls decided to make them a target.
I’ve seen trolls attack families grieving for the loss of a child, gather together to encourage someone to commit suicide online for their entertainment and other trolls flock to web sites that pay homage to serial killers, racists and homophobes.
They offer nothing of value and their ideas and as much as they are hurtful, their words are silly and the comments absurd.
Trolls are everywhere and at some point virtually everyone who uses social media on the Internet, on a regular basis, will encounter one or more of them. When that happens remember this. Trolls can only hurt you if you allow them to hurt you. Block them, report them or ignore them. They crave attention. It is how they validate their pathetic little lives. Don’t give it to them. Instead, see them for what they are and simply move on. Their words can’t hurt you and they have nothing but hurtful words to throw at you.
Trolls are people who have accomplished nothing and so look for ways to undermine the accomplishments of others. They have no values so they look for ways to undermine the values of others. Don’t allow it. They are lower than spammers and scammers, they are the Internet’s bottom feeders sharing more in common with pedophiles and racists than any other group who uses social media.
Soon enough, just as it was when we grew up and fairy tales lost their magic, the Internet too will mature and grow up and trolls will fade away into the sewers from which they came. It can’t come soon enough for most of us but regardless of how long it takes, it is coming.
Until then, just remember that trolls are sleazy little imaginary creatures not worth concerning yourself over.
© 2012 Maggie’s Bear
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