5 Signs you’re an Internet troll

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trollAs a blogger with connections to writers all over the world I hear a lot of complaining about the trolls ruining the comment sections of articles, especially those posted on the bigger blogs like Huffington Post or Scary Mommy. My own work has earned the gaze of trolls along with their pithy (misspelled and often expletive filled vitriol) explanations for why I should “just kill myself” or my personal favorite to, “get a life.”

So, here’s the thing, if you can’t be adult enough to click past an article you hate so much that it has your brain frothing then you should perhaps reconsider why you read blogs to begin with. The next time you find yourself hunting down the comment bar – or worse the author’s unpublished email address or personal FB page – ask yourself the following questions:

Are my manners totally checked out right now?
Please don’t erupt into some diabolically stupid argument with an author about how your personal experience is nothing like the author’s and therefore the author is an idiot. Instead try writing something along the lines of this:

“Interesting read! Although your experience is entirely different than mine it is always eye opening to learn about differences.”

Am I stalking the author?
If you go beyond the comment section and try to contact the author through a personal email that you had to hunt down or through a private Facebook page then you are stalking. And you suck. Whatever negative nonsense you intend to unload on the author will immediately be seen as suspect since you broke the cardinal rule of commenting and left the play area.

Is my comment missing the context of this article?
You would not believe how many troll comments start off with an accusation of something that has absolutely nothing to do with the original article. One writer shared with me that she wrote a piece on a popular website about her child walking in on her while she was naked and she dealt with the situation without freaking out. She then had a nasty comment from a troll calling her a pedophile. Really?!

Is it possible that I am not the target audience?
Let’s just be clear here. If you are reading articles on a sarcastic parenting blog and you a) have no sense of humor or b) are not a parent or c) lacking intelligence then you are not the target audience for that site and should perhaps keep your nasty comments in your thought bubbles where they belong.

Am I always a jerk when I comment?
This one is a pretty good indicator that you are a troll if you find yourself always leaving negative replies to articles posted on the Internet. Name calling, finger wagging, threats, lectures, or passive aggressive comments are all inappropriate and do nothing to propel a dialog forward. You’re just being a jerk.

Disagreeing with an author and leaving a respectful and well-thought out response is one thing. But when you cross a line and start hurling negative junk then you’re just a troll and your comments are unwelcome.

Sarah Cottrell

About Sarah Cottrell

Maine-based writer Sarah Cottrell is the voice behind Housewife Plus at the Bangor Daily News and is a regular contributor to Disney’s Babble and Momtastic. She is a co-author in six books including I Still Just Want To Pee Alone from the New York Times Bestselling series. Sarah’s work has also been highlighted and featured by SELF Magazine, National Public Radio, Washington Post, and VICE Tonic.