We’ve all been hit by a troll now and again, whether it’s the random, drive-by YER STUPID AND ULGY troll or the more committed and detail-oriented troller that is a devoted reader and knows all your (totally publicly shared in your blog) “secrets.”
A question that plagues many of us, of course, is this: are internet trolls also bullies in real life? Charlie Jane Anders at i09 thinks that they are.
One of the biggest myths about the Internet goes like this: people who are perfectly pleasant and reasonable in real life become total jerkfaces when they get online. It conjures up the image of a mild-mannered office clerk, who talks courteously and sweetly to everyone, and then goes home and spews venom on comment sections and web forums for hours.
I suppose in some ways, we want to believe this. Because the internet is full of so much vitriol everywhere you go – forums, comment sections, Twitter – we want with all our hearts to imagine that people are actually good but just need a place to be crazy, and sometimes that place to be crazy happens to be in the comment section of our blog posts.
The i09 article goes on to say:
The fact is, you can meet internet trolls in real life, and they will be just as trollish in person as they are on the internet. It’s just that, when someone starts screaming at you on the street about their crazy conspiracy theories, you can walk away.
In the mom blogging space, though, we have a unique sort of troll (shared, I believe, with fashion bloggers and a few other blogger types) in that the trolls are utterly, 100% not actually conspiracy-theory spouting lunatics – but they are also utterly, 100% dedicated to being a blogger’s personal critic. And, unfortunately, there is an element to said “criticism” that isn’t critical, but deliberately hurtful and cruel. These critics are also devoted fans, in that they read every single word a blogger writes.
It is difficult to walk away from these trolls/critics, because they are literally every where you go online.
I’ve met in person one of the most well-known mom blogging “trolls” as well as spoken on the phone with another, and both of them in person were… lovely. Not at all confrontational; instead, they were warm, kind, and even engaging. Others are anonymous in their “troll” personas but are clearly people I’ve met at blogging conferences in real life that, obviously, did not walk up to me at the conference to point out my physical flaws, failed family and work choices, or disapprove of the choice of language I use when I speak.
But online? All bets are off. So, to sum it up, NO, I don’t think it’s always possible to simply walk away from those that work so hard at being hurtful and cruel online – because it might be the person who just handed you their business card.