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Our attackers are weirdos, and the internet is a weirdo’s paradise. But for some reason, we often have trouble understanding that. Instead, we take attacks seriously and personally. One scholar has proposed that this tendency to internalize trollish insults results from a phenomenon called solipsistic introjection: reading written communication can feel like hearing a voice inside our own head. As such, a troll’s insults can be experienced as a form of self-criticism, which is hard to ignore.
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We should all decide for ourselves whether this tactic is workable for us. And in the case of threats or hate speech, you may want to make your nonreceipt more tangible by blocking the trolls, and reporting the abuse. (This remedy is imperfect at best, unfortunately, given social...
Even if you want to bid the online sewer a not-so-fond adieu, your circumstances might make doing so too costly. Exiting social media today would be like getting rid of your telephone 20 years ago. And maybe you simply don’t want to be forced off social media by the trolls, any more than ...
You can look for a few clues to figure out if you’re the troll. Research on internet bullies has found that they have an easier time being themselves online than in person. Ask yourself: Do you feel the same way? Also consider whether you find pleasure in insulting others...
Not receiving an insult means you cannot respond in any way (beyond, perhaps, blocking and reporting an attacker). According to the Center for Countering Digital Hate, a British NGO, ignoring trolls is crucial for stopping abuse. This makes sense, given the evidence that trolls are seekin...
The internet offers (at least) one important tool that makes life easier for bullies: anonymity. As both research and common sense attest, allowing users to hide their identity abets abuse.
One solution would be to review your followers and block anyone who doesn’t...
Despite the fact that online jerks and offline jerks tend to be the same people, online life feels way more full of jerks than offline life. Bizarre, hostile behavior seems to be more common online than in person. The reason is that once abusers enter an online space, they tend t...
Without even realizing it, many internet users mistakenly assume that cyberattackers follow conventional rules of behavior. People try to reason with trolls or appeal to their better nature. These responses are similar to how you might approach a friend who’s inadvertently insult...
If you use the internet, the odds are about even that you’ll be mistreated there. A 2021 Pew Research report found that 41% of U.S. adults have personally experienced some form of online harassment. 55% percent think it is a “major problem.” 75% percent of the targets of online abuse say their mo...
Many people who engage in online harassment are not what most of us would consider to be well-adjusted. In 2019, scholars writing in the journal Personality and Individual Differences surveyed 26 studies of internet “trolling,” cyberbullying, and related antisocial onlin...
Responding to a bully on the internet or in real life—remember, they are typically the same people—is proof that they are worth your time and notice. It gives them a twisted kind of status. While a healthy person gets status from admiration for meritorious behavior, research on playground...
If this introspection leads you to admit to yourself that you have become a bit of a troll, or are voluntarily part of a culture or group that engages in online bullying, remember how it feels to be on the other side of the exchange. Ask yourself if you would want your loved ones to know ...
In the Akkosa Sutta, the Buddha teaches, “Whoever returns insult to one who is insulting, returns taunts to one who is taunting, returns a berating to one who is berating, is said to be eating together, sharing company, with that person.”
You don’t have to actively reject abuse on t...
As a child, you were probably advised more than a few times to ignore taunts and insults. Part of this is just common sense. Way back in 1997, basically the internet’s Stone Age, a Unix handbook for systems administrators offered instruction on how to deal with a troll: “You’re an adult—y...
“An idea is something that won’t work unless you do.” - Thomas A. Edison
Online jerks and offline jerks are largely one and the same: bullies with personality disorders. And we can protect our happiness by dealing with them both in some tangible, practical ways.
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