Anyone who uses social media regularly must have experienced the troll and anyone in their right senses does not want to be tagged as one.
The troll, contrary to the way some trolls try to justify themselves as, is not someone who has a different opinion than yours. The troll is the one who wants to wreck your conversation, is out of point all the time, attacks you personally with completely made up things, tends to use CAPS LOCK frequently (since his opinion is more important than anyone else’s), and might easily call you a troll if you refuse to talk about their chosen topic even though they weren’t the ones who started the conversation.
You probably know who I’m talking about. They’re all over the Internet
All regular internet users have battled and wasted time with trolls. (When faced with a troll, always keep in mind that your time is more precious than theirs, thus the longer the conversation, the more you lose)
There are different kinds of trolls and the main difference between each of them is their motive.
What motivates the troll is what makes the whole difference, and while some trolls are annoying but pretty harmless, others have malicious intents that can hurt.
This is a snapshot of the trolls found on various platforms of social media. This is by no means an exclusive list, but these five are among the most common trolls in Malta.
The Bored Teenager
Ever seen a kid knock a random house’s bell, run away, hide around the corner and watch some old lady open the door to find no one there?
Possibly, the decline of annoying children and teenagers knocking on people’s doors can be explained by their online activity, hooked on the thrill of pissing people off there and never grew out it.
The bored teenager trolls are the most harmless and could easily circumvented because it doesn’t really matter to them whether they piss you off or someone else. The whole Internet is their battlefield.
If you show some assertiveness the Bored Teenager troll is likely to leave you alone and prey on someone more vulnerable.
The spamming troll has only one goal, to sell something.
The main things that make a spammer a troll and not a legitimate Internet marketer is the lack of relevance of what they have to offer to the conversation, and the fact that they bring zero value to the discussion. Remember that the spammer troll is not interested in the actual conversation, but wants to turn it into something of value to them at the expense of anyone else.
If your conversation is about acne, and someone politely joins the conversation, provides additional value to those following it, and, after gaining your trust and that of the other people involved in the discussion, tells you that they have a solution for it on their website, that’s an Internet marketer at work.
The spammer is the one who barges in on the discussion about acne, and, no matter how irrelevant it is to the conversation, insist that if you buy the shoes they’re selling, you wouldn’t worry about the acne anymore because everyone will be looking at your feet, put a link to their product and leave.
The spammers are rarely dangerous and their intent is not to hurt you. However, you should be careful about buying anything from the link they provide because its either selling products of inferior quality or a complete scam.
The Grammar Nazi
Like the Bored Teenager, the Grammar Nazi should be avoided at best, pitied at worst.
Try to imagine how it feels like to live a life, missing the point of every single online conversation, (since most people aren’t thinking grammar on social media) and feeling compelled to point it out all the time.
The Grammar Nazis tend to get confused when they start losing friends on Facebook, since they believe they are actually trying to help.
The intent is usually innocent and if you happen to encounter this troll, try to have some compassion. Behind that laptop there’s usually a person that is suffering.
The Far Right troll
The Far Right troll is like the bacteria of the Internet. The lone Seig Heiler is harmless and irrelevant, but they usually hunt in packs.
The goals of the far Right trolls vary. Some just comment in order to insult the Jewish elite, the traitors, the nigger lovers, Soros, liberals, the Illuminati or whoever perceived enemy trends within their bubble.
Others are more strategic, and their main goal is to recruit. While they’re trying to wreck your conversation, they’re also looking out for the most vulnerable of your followers to slowly convert to their cause.
Some of them are even friendly in their trolling. You wouldn’t say there’s someone planning a genocide. But Far Right trolls can harm you, and should be immediately avoided because they really hunt in packs.
Whether you encounter such a troll depends mostly on what your interests are, as well as your skin color, your surname, your religion, your sexual orientation and your Nationality.
Some people have had bad experiences with Far Right trolls trying to hurt their reputation online, such as by inviting dozens of fellow trolls to give bad reviews to an online business owned by a “niggerlover”, or even literally spread a rumour about some perceived online enemy.
The Government Shield
The Government Shield is the most dangerous troll of all, because they only have one goal: To silence criticism of whoever is in power. And unlike any other troll they are backed by who is in power.
The emergence of the army of Government Shields in Malta, is a very worrying trend that has been plaguing some Eastern countries like Turkey, Romania and Azerbaijan for a while.
In Turkey they actually have their own name, the AKTrolls, an army of online dictators ready to wreck every discussion that points out to the fact that that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s AK Party is committing atrocities.
Opponents of Erdogan’s regime not only are aware of the existence of these trolls, but they’re also aware that they’re also well-organized and paid. Use of such ‘weapons’ against dissent is pretty new in Malta and it is evident this is an organised effort.
From personal experience these are the best ways to deal with this most dangerous troll, that is actually part of something bigger.
1. Recognise it
If you truly value democracy, you need to keep in mind that those who support the establishment, also have a right to express themselves. Not everyone who disagrees with you is a troll.
Long-time relationships ended because of the political rivalry in Malta and attacking people because they have a different opinion, has the same undemocratic mindset as the Government Shield troll has.
But it’s easy to notice the Government Shield troll because their arguments are irrational, out of point, insulting, and have the goal of wrecking the discussion.
2. Remove it or expose it but never engage with it
A government troll is a person at work, so it is important that you don’t spend any time engaging with them since they’re directly or indirectly rewarded for their online activity and arguing with them is literally a waste of time. You’re just losing time you could have spent, for instance criticizing the government. Which is exactly what Government Shields want you to do.
If you encounter Government Shield troll on social media ignore them instantly or, better still expose them so that your friends don’t get attacked by that same person.