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How I dealt with Internet trolls

By Nina Steele 

I was trolled some months ago on Social Media by a man and a woman who objected to my twitter page and the very existence of my website. They could not understand how anyone could claim to be happy without children. As far as they were concerned, having children is what life is all about. It was the venom with which they proceeded to go about it which made me realise how vile these people can be. They started off by mocking the pictures that I use for my articles (they didn’t like that many of the couples in the photographs were smiling!) and it escalated from there. What struck me most was their total and utter ignorance. Had they bothered to read about what the site is about, they would have realised that one of its goals is to help people still struggling to come to terms with the fact that they are unable to have children. But of course that will no longer make them trolls, because by definition, a troll is an ignorant coward who takes pleasure in hurting others, just because they happen to have a computer and nothing better to do with their time.

At first, I was not sure what course of action to follow. Was I going to take them on, or was I simply going to ignore them? In the meantime, the abuse kept coming. I generally never hesitate to take on people and my husband often has to dissuade me from doing so. I am the type of person who will confront a group of youth misbehaving or ask someone to pick up their litter etc. You get the the picture. I come from a line of strong women and my mother’s courage is legendary! For example, during the civil war in my country of birth the Ivory Coast, there was a complete lockdown of the main city Abidjan, as the fighting had become so intense. Enters my mother (all 4’9” of her) who had decided that regardless of the danger to life, she needed to go and collect her rent in the opposite part of town. The city resembled a ghost town with only the sound of gunfire. My mother, accompanied by a teenage relative, was travelling by foot, the distance she intended to cover: over 7 miles! As she and her young companion made their way through the city, they could see dead bodies strewn everywhere! They were finally spotted by one of the rebel fighters who could not believe his eyes! He shouted at them to go back and warned that had it not been for the fact that my mother was an old lady, he would not have hesitated to shoot them both!

This is the type of courage that runs through me and so my first instinct was to take the trolls head on. Then I paused and reflected. Experience has shown me that some people are not worth getting into an argument with. You have an argument or discussion with people that you can sense are open minded enough to recognise when they are wrong etc and you cannot say that of trolls. They have no sense of right and wrong and take pleasure in hurting others. They love it when they get a reaction from you and so the best way to deal with them is to totally ignore them and even better, block them. If there is something bullies like them hate, it is to be ignored. Indifference is the worse kind of insult for people like this. Never give them the attention they so crave by getting into an argument with them. That is their oxygen and they will come back for more. To quote George Bernard Shaw: ” never wrestle with pigs. You both get dirty and the pig likes it”. I blocked them both (and would have reported them if for example they were making death threats, for which they can go to jail) and of course they alerted some of their friends and so another one showed up, but to my surprise instead of carrying on with the abuse, the friend chose instead to warn others that they will be blocked if I do not like what they post on my page! And that was the end of that episode. Of course I am not naive and know that by definition, being active on the Internet means that one can always run into such people and I am more than ready to deal with them if and when that happens.

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