I’ve been working in the IT industry for quite a while now, working as a programmer and a designer for various clients off shore and local. I even teach the subject on 4 different schools. Overall, I have 10 years of experience (of course, if you add the 3,521 hours worth of sleepless nights, 2,401 hours of coffee making and drinking, and 66,666 hours of cursing every single demon from hell and beyond for my problematic algorithms, that adds to an even 18 years of experience!).
I also have working knowledge of viruses, hackers, spammers, phishers, and everything else that the law can sue. However, yesterday was the first time I personally encountered a Troll.
Trolling, according to my favorite friend Wikipedia, is someone who posts inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community, such as an online discussion forum, chat room, or blog, with the primary intent of provoking readers into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion.
I usually encounter these morons throughout the net, and I usually ignore them because I believe in the freedom of speech. I also believe that this liberty should be protected zealously. Therefore, when I encounter these people, I often leave them, and their opinions alone.
But I was a bit testy this past week. I mean, who wouldn’t? You must have heard of the 6.9 earthquake that happened here just this week, then you get aftershocks every now and then (total aftershocks is more than a thousand, and still counting), then you scan the building for strong spots every morning, and hold on to dear life and hope that the roof won’t fall on you. Anyone could get testy. But it became worse when I read an article about a girl who’s trending on Twitter and other social media websites for a comment she made during the said calamity. Basically, she’s hoping for a tsunami to wipe out the Bisayans (people of the Visayas, a region in the Philippines) so that there would be less ‘unfashionable’ people in the Philippines.
Obviously, that was a severe racially-induced comment, and she was hammered by many Bisayans for it. There was even threats to her life and her family. I was reading them and was appalled that a fellow Filipino would even think about it. I hated the comment, and I especially hated the person who made it. It made me forget the calamity and the pity that I have to my fellow Bisayans who were at the epicenter of the earthquake; the Bisayans who lost loved ones; the Bisayans who were injured, physically and emotionally. I started looking, researching about the person for an entire day, and even asked her for a public apology. I was so adamant that I even continued to repost my comment over and over on her Facebook page, laughing my ass off everytime it was erased.
After several hours, I got bored and decided to leave for the day. I told myself, I’ll have to do it again tomorrow to get her attention. I was so desperate to ask for an apology from the said troll, and even planning how to do it better for today, when an article in Yahoo made me rethink what I had been doing:
The article was a wake-up call for me. I didn’t know how much time I wasted on getting this troll to justice, then I realized that this is what she really wanted. She really did got my attention for the whole day, and this was what she really wanted. I let myself be played in her fingers, and I didn’t know it. I’m usually sharp about things like this, but because of the emotion triggered by the calamity, I forgot everything.
I had resolved that I will never, NEVER let myself be played again by a troll, and I hope everyone else wouldn’t, too. Here are some of the activities that a troll likes to do:
- Spread rumors (for example, a noted person dying)
- Gossip about celebrities (celebrity A is gay or having an affair)
- Assume the identity of other users
- Attack people and entities under the guise of their “right to free speech”
- Bully people who can’t fight back including celebrities, politicians and other prominent people who know it’s self-defeating to engage in a cyberwar with a troll
The really bad thing about a troll, is that it will continue on making accounts even after it is blocked. It will continue to raise hell to the netizens and start a word war, provoking us, which is what the troll really wanted. So, courtesy of that article, here are tips on how to deal with these attention-hungry psychos:
- Do Not FEED the troll. Keep cool. Don’t reply. (I did this with impunity)
- Ask your friends not to reply to a troll. (Heck, I even asked my students to message her)
- Block a troll, flag the offensive comment or report him or her to the site administrator. If the troll shows up under another account name, block him again. (How come I never thought of this?)
- On your social account or your blog, adjust privacy settings moderate comments, or disallow comments, to keep them out. (Well, it was a public blog, so this one would probably work on other social networking sites)
A troll made me waste an entire day…can’t believe it.