When I was a kid, a troll was something the Billy Goats Gruff found hiding underneath a bridge.
He was ugly, hairy and liked bullying defenceless creatures. These days trolls are people who surf the internet, looking for people to pick on with their absurd comments and opinions. They have much in common with the troll who lived under the bridge and if truth be known, they most likely look a lot like him too.
Just a quick look on any national newspaper site will reveal a whole host of trolls, eager to spill their guts to anyone who is reading. Pick an article – any article – and in the comments section you will see the trolls roaming around, upsetting everyone in their path. Nobody is safe – even those people who have been involved in great personal trauma and loss. In fact it’s those articles that attract trolls most; rubbing salt into the wounds of the poor victims portrayed in the articles.
But it’s not just newspaper sites that attract them. They also appear on Facebook, Twitter and any other website that allows comments or opinions of any kind. There was a Facebook page created a few years ago to raise awareness of a little girl suffering from cancer. Not only did trolls attack the page, but it also turned out that one of them was someone who knew the little girl personally. This is disgraceful behaviour but it is – unfortunately – quite common.
The problem is of course that in the old days, a person would have to write a nasty letter on paper; stick on a stamp and take it to a post office in order to comment on anything in a newspaper or television. Nowadays it’s all done at the click of a button and that makes it very easy for un-named, faceless cretins to spill their venom wherever they like; regardless of whether they actually believe in the things they are saying.
Of course the best thing to do would be for Facebook, Twitter, newspapers and all the rest to ban these trolls completely, though the powers of the internet make that virtually impossible to do.
My advice to any victim of trolls would be to ignore them, as feeding off others’ comments is what gives power to these non-entities. And if there is anyone out there who just recognised themselves from my description of a troll, my advice to you would be: step away from the computer, and while you’re at it, for goodness sake get a life…