advice on trolls

Dealing with trolls: advice to my teenage son

What happens when your child gets trolled? When they say to you “why would someone say that? How could they be so horrible?”

Here’s what I recently told my teenage son on how to deal with trolls

When people write vile and contemptible words via social media, often anonymously, there is a tendency to want to seek out the perpetrator, hound them down and make them accountable for their insidious remarks. Of course we know how this usually ends. A continuous barrage of insults, more scathing comments and a never ending cycle of back and forth dialogue full of hatred and scorn. That’s pretty much how it ended up on my sons social media feed recently. After posting a heartfelt tribute on what would have been his sisters birthday he was inundated with messages of support and love from friends and followers wanting to share a little of his pain. “Here for you bro”  was the general gist of the many many comments he received.

Until one.

I can’t even repeat, but suffice to say it led to the aforementioned friends amping up the support for my son whilst continuing in their quest to make the troll pay for his comment. A natural reaction from teenage boys….or anyone really.

But here’s what I told my son when he asked me why someone would do that.

This person is in a world of pain themselves. That is my only explanation. We have to find it in our hearts to feel for this person. I asked my son if he could ever imagine himself writing anything like that. He said never ever could he imagine having to stoop so low. ‘That is why you are the lucky one here.” I told him.  “Because you don’t know what it feels like to be so desperate for something…love, attention, whatever it is, you can’t even put yourself in this persons shoes. And for now that’s a good thing. Be grateful that is not you. Be thankful for all the wonderful friends and support you do have. It is in no way acceptable behaviour. But somehow find it in your heart to understand the pain that someone must be in themselves, to do as this person has done”.

I also told him to prepare to see these sorts of comments again and again. Because there will always be people who are hurting.

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This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. Carol

    Brilliant advice!

  2. Bec Senyard

    I left a comment, but I think it went to spam. I think every blogger needs to read this post. I love your response to your son. Its a response we all need to apply when hit with trolls.

  3. Deborah

    Great advice. I guess it’s the ‘sticks and stones’ for this generation isn’t it? I grew up in the 70s and trolls were bullies. They didn’t have quite as much power without the immediacy of the internet but I recall my parents offering similar advice.

  4. You have made me cry that someone could possibly have a negative word about a child expressing his thoughts about the death of a sibling. I have recently been attacked and I am shocked people think it is OK to write these things. Big kisses to your beautiful boys.

  5. Anna : Colour me Anna

    Oh this is such a good response to a tricky situation. I always tell me kids that about the other person saying mean things from a place of hurt but I never asked them if they could imagine saying those things. Sage advice indeed x

  6. Vanessa Rowse

    Great advice Martine. It’s a hard but necessary lesson to learn unfortunately 🙁 x

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