I recently heard an interview on a Sirius radio show with a host asking someone their best piece of advice for the audience. “Don’t feed the trolls,” they said.
Don’t feed the trolls! What a clever way of disguising a great skill to have in life in the form of myth! This particular radio show (I’m on the road a lot for my kids so I use my time to enrich my mind) was about the Internet (Dot.Complicated). The phrase DON’T FEED THE TROLLS is in reference to people who make negative comments on sites and those who feel compelled to respond. We’ve all seen the trolls. This presents a dilemma to the author/subject of the comments–do you respond and defend/explain yourself? Or, do you ignore it?
Don’t feed the trolls is a wonderfully visual way of presenting a solution to a very real problem on the Internet these days.
This phrase doesn’t necessarily have to remain relegated to the trolls in the ether worlds of the Internet–it can be utilized in your every day life as well. Why feed the trolls when you can use your energy to focus on the positive? Why spend time trying to get other people to change their minds about you or defending yourself against their claims of some version of you’re not good enough? Why spend your time explaining yourself, focused on fending off the trolls, when you can simply choose not to respond?
My father-in-law likes to say that when people criticize you, look at their criticisms like little balloons that go up in the air in front of you. You can take your energy to pop each of these balloons, responding to each of the attacks; or you can simply let them float up in the air. Bye balloons! Take that hot air and just let it float away–you always have a choice not to react.
You can use this advice on anything in your life that feels annoying to you, particularly if you find yourself arguing with your kids, your partner, your ex, your coworkers, your blog audience–it doesn’t matter who the source is. If you feel defensive, like you have to explain it to someone who’s negative, if you feel a need to strike back–take a moment to decide if you want your energy to feed the negativity and fan its fire. Life’s too short to waste on trolls. They’ll go somewhere else if you choose not to react. Your lesson is to learn to be non-reactive and to turn your attention to all the good in the world. If you want, instead of reacting outward, reflect on why it is bringing something up in you. Do you doubt yourself? Do you think there’s some truth to what they’re saying? Has someone scratched the surface of a wound in you? Or, do you unconsciously like the drama? Are you thinking like a victim–“Why me?” There’s no “right” or “wrong” answers here, but you may want to look into why you feel compelled to engage in a showdown with a troll instead of moving on.
One last thing…I like Taylor Swift’s song “Shake It Off” (I think she’s incredibly talented and a great role model for my kids). She’s taken what her critics have said, given her audience the advice to “Shake it off,” and has made this into a hit song. I think too, using Taylor Swift as another example, when people criticize you for something–like her unlucky streak in love–she admits it. When you do that, it deflates the conversation in a hurry. “Yeah, I’m not having much luck with the guys.” Now where are you going to go with that? There’s no ego-posturing there, no defensiveness, no blame, no shame…I find it amusing that people find it so easy to criticize others, yet can’t even see the imperfections in themselves. They’re so busy judging others, they haven’t taken the time to work on their own self-growth and self-reflection. Don’t get reeled in by the bait of distraction by giving them the time of day.
There’s so much to this topic, but I am curious about what you think: What has been your experience with trolls? Do you want to fight back? (Reminder: there’s no right or wrong here)