Trip, trap, trip, trap..
When the three Billy Goats Gruff trotted over the bridge in the fabled tale they were heckled from below by a fearsome troll.
Big, bad and ugly, the troll did all he could to scare the little goats as they went about their business. He had nothing better to do, after all.
The goats soon learned if they blocked him out, he would have no chance to gobble them up. They were wise those goats.
But when trolled via social media, it is tough to ignore and difficult to tell the difference, particularly in a semi-work capacity, between genuine grievances and a sad, miserable hater, with nothing better to do.
Largely, it is the latter.
Somebody with a genuine grievance will phone, email or say it to your face.
The adage ‘if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything’ has passed trolls by – plus the rules of polite society.
They seem unaware of the fact saying something nasty online is not just whispering aloud from the dim sanctuary of their lair, not even shouting aloud, but publishing – and sometimes to a wide audience.
That makes them subject to the laws of defamation – and the law is just waiting for a decent test case.
But also what they are saying – can hurt.
Reality is web trolls don’t realise they are trolls or even bullies. Which makes them sad and dangerous.
So the only way to keep them under bridge is to bar them or shame them.
If they don’t give the bores the attention they crave they often fade away to pursue more productive avenues of troll activity.
I have seen several celebrities go down the shaming route and it often results a slanging match that does nobody any favours.
Replying just gives the troll the oxygen of publicity – with the slight aired in front of her tens of thousands of celebrity followers.
The moral of this story?
Do not reply. Do not retweet.
Make like a billy goat and ignore, ignore, so you can cross the bridge in peace.
Orginally published in Lancaster Guardian – click HERE for link