Internet Trolls are sadistic individuals who like to get a rise out of people in the digital realm. Identifying trolls can be difficult, as they enjoy annoying you through methods that don’t usually appear like trolling.
Five signs the person you’re arguing with online is a troll:
Gaslighting is to manipulate someone psychologically by making them question their own sanity. The term comes from the storyline of the film, Gaslight (1944).
You’re arguing with someone online. You’ve delivered clear, concise arguments that are backed up with verified facts. You’ve even sent them the source links to prove your point. What do they do? They’ll reply with a crazy misinterpretation of something you said several replies ago. Not only do you have to go back through the thread to see exactly what you said, but you spend time re-stating what you’d already established. False accusations about what they said will trigger many people, and that’s what the troll is counting on.
2. Increased Insults and Baby Talking
You’ve sent a response to an argument you disagree with. Yes, you’ve disagreed but you have sent a respectful reply explaining your issues with their statement. In response, they’ll make an insult regarding something about your character or they’ll talk down to you like a child.
You then are sent on an endless thread simply defending who you are rather than the point you were originally trying to make. If they are more interested in addressing you as a person instead of addressing the points you’ve presented, it’s a sign they are only there to be a troll.
Trolls love being anonymous. You’ll usually find them as accounts with blank profile pictures and zero content. Being a troll that can be identified in a public space can be dangerous for a troll, as the public obviously dislikes them.
4. They Go Off-Topic
So you’re again arguing with someone and feel like you’ve caught them in a check-mate. Your last reply can’t be denied and you know it.
Their response? Bringing something totally off-topic into the mix and acting as if its relevant to what you said. You could be talking about immigration at the border and they’ll bring in crazy conspiracy theories about the moon landing. You’re totally thrown off-guard and they use that to further incite you.
You click away from the thread for a breather and suddenly you see the same account harassing people on another post. Then you see the person on another post. And another. And another.
Trolls don’t heavily discriminate on who they “disagree” with because their ultimate goal is simply to get a rise out of someone. To achieve their chances, they’ll spam multiple posts hoping to find someone who doesn’t see what they’re trying to do.
So what to do if you find yourself chatting with a troll? You can report them for bullying or spam if appropriate. You can also just block or ignore them as they’re only there to upset you and waste your time. Or you could try trolling the troll if that’s what you’re into doing with your time…