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Are You Guilty of Being A Social Media Troll?

Are You Guilty of Being A Social Media Troll?

Team Missy

Here at Missy.ie we do not stand for bullying or harassment.

Over the weekend Team Missy had a negative experience where we were sent a series of abusive messages on our Instagram by a group of people. I won’t get into the particulars of it, as that doesn’t really matter in the scheme of things.

I want to be clear, 99.99% of people who we interact with are so lovely, but the incident over the weekend really got me thinking and my takeaway was that these people really didn’t think they were doing anything wrong in sending us those messages. And I really felt like I needed to talk about that.

I tried to engage with them and answer them in a polite way, but they just kept going with abusive messages and comments. I then pointed out that if they kept up the harassing messages we would have to report them to Instagram, which you should always do in these situations. But instead of taking a step back they decided to keep going.

Hiding Behind A Phone Doesn’t Make You Brave

It’s like there’s sometimes not a realisation that you’re interacting with a real, live person on the other side of the message. When you can hide behind the keyboard it’s easy to believe that it’s not “real life”, but it is and there’s a way to conduct yourself.

I’m big enough and bold enough to not be intimidated by these actions anymore, but not everyone comes away from an incident like this with that mindset and I know if that happened to me when I was a teen it would have destroyed me and my confidence. I’m a person, and this incident took time out of my Sunday night and it was really disappointing to myself and the rest of the Missy Team.

While we always advocate for having your own opinion and voicing it, as well as raising your concerns, at what point do you enter into the realm of trolling and harassment when you don’t get the response you want?

There’s A Way To Conduct Yourself Online

There seems to be an entitlement out there on social media in general amongst a lot of people. Have your opinions, yes. Buy you’re never entitled to someone’s time, you’re never entitled to send messages to someone who doesn’t want to receive them and you’re not entitled to keep going even when you’ve been asked to stop.

Online bullying and harassment has real world consequences for everyone involved. You don’t know what’s going on with people, ever.

One thing I’ve noticed over the past few years that some who grew up with the internet at their fingertips don’t really seem to know how to conduct themselves online – it’s a small minority, but I really feel like this is worth highlighting because as I said above, I really wonder if there’s a realisation that some actions aren’t really acceptable.

Be polite.

I know texting and banter with friends brings down the curtain on how to behave in online social settings but sending abrupt messages to people you don’t know is plain rude.

I often see influencers saying that they get a lot of rude messages along the longs of “where’s it from?” On Instagram if they show something. A “Hi, how are you? Just wondering where you got x from, please?” is far nicer and politer and more likely to get a response. Again, there’s a real person on the other end of that message.

Manners cost nothing.

Sending a flurry of messages to someone you don’t know is also really annoying.

Again, this is grand to do with your own friends, but spamming someone is really frustrating. They saw your first message. They’re not a robot who can respond in two seconds. Chill on the multiple comments and messages. If they want to, they’ll reply.

If you send an aggressive message and they don’t respond, don’t keep going.

People are entitled to draw a line and stop responding if the messages are confrontational; they don’t own you to keep going until you’ve had your say. No response is a response.

Arguing online seems to be a currency now.

Twitter and comment sections are full of it but at what point do you just need to let it go and realise that you have different perspective and arguing will get you no where? I know you may want answers or you may want people to come around to your way of thinking, but at the end of the day no one owes you that. If someone explains their point of view, I think that’s kinda the end of it. You’re not going to agree and that’s fine. That’s life at the end of the day.

See Also

Banding a group of friends together isn’t ok.

If you have to say something, say it. Getting a group of friends together to send near identical messages to one person verges into bullying and harassment very quickly. Yes, its important to support friends in general but if you have someone asking you to involve yourself in something that’s none of your business and to send messages, you have to evaluate that situation and what type of person it makes them and you.

Do you really have to say it?

Look, we’re all critical. I’m no saint. We notice things and we judge people, it’s human nature. But just because you think it, do you really have to hop online for it to be validated? If you have nothing nice to say, don’t say it at all. It honestly baffles me when I see comments on Instagram or worse, direct messages, to influencers telling them their outfit is unflattering or that they look fat, ugly, tired…the list goes on. I just can’t imagine what it’s like to be going about your day and then getting a message criticising your appearance. It’s horrible. I just don’t understand what sort of validation a person gets from sending messages like that.

Don’t hide behind fake accounts.

It’s super easy to make burner accounts or Finsta accounts and put different names and pictures to hide your identity, but if you’re doing this to send anonymous messages, we’re sorry to tell you but you’ve officially crossed over into social media troll territory.

What To Do If You Experience Bullying/Harassment/Trolling

If you’re ever on the receiving end of social media trolling my advice is:

  1. tell them to stop in a polite but firm way
  2. if they keep going report and then block them – just don’t engage anymore, some people just aren’t worth the time because they’ll never see reason in their behaviour. And it is seriously cathartic to just block them. Instagram have a new feature where you have the option to block the person and all other accounts that they have/or make thereafter, which cuts down on people being able to make new profiles to harass you.

The internet is a weird place. It’s give so much to us in a positive way but there are some really serious and scary aspects of it too. Internet culture can be really toxic and being able to hide behind a phone can embolden people. Sometimes it’s hard to see how you might be engaging online can be wrong. It’s best to take a step back and assess. If you won’t do it in “real life”, you shouldn’t be doing it online.

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