Rewriting a Troll

Well, you guys, Mosaicca officially got its first troll!

I think this means I’ve ~made it~ in the blogosphere. (Kidding!)

A few years ago, I got a nasty troll on a different blog I had back then. I posted about it on social media, looking for support. Among all the comforting words like “just ignore them,” one particularly astute comment arose.

(I wish so badly that I could remember who said this. If you read this and remember it being you, please tell me! The below is also a paraphrasing.)

Words tell stories. Most of the time, we use words to tell stories about the world around us. But sometimes, a person will say words that, on the surface, appear to tell a story about you, but really, their words are a misdirected story about themselves. This is what trolls’ words do; they tell a story about the troll that just happens to be aimed at you.

I love love loved this insight. It is so easy to tell someone to just brush it off and ignore a troll. Personally, I find that incredibly difficult. But this insight allowed me to re-frame the nasty words I had read and realize that they were a reflection on the other person, not me.

So today, I wanted to ‘rewrite’ my recent troll’s words. But before I do, I’d like to say a word about what constitutes trolling.

What Exactly Is a Troll?

While there is some trolling that indisputably earns that label (for example, calling someone a profane word), low-grade trolling can be harder to define. I think a lot of it comes down to personal judgment.

For me, trolling is a personal attack on myself or my readers that is worded in an uncivil (often sarcastic) tone. It is NOT disagreement or leaving a passionate comment. I hope I always make it clear to you guys that I believe in free speech and open dialogue.

I love it when you guys disagree with me, actually! I don’t want only comments that make me feel warm and fuzzy. It’s OK for a comment to make me feel uncomfortable, because then it will challenge me to reevaluate my perspective on something!

But being unnecessarily nasty and not backing up your words with reasoning goes into trolling territory. Essentially, if you leave a comment that is worded in such a childish and mean way that it is evident that you are not willing to engage with me (or fellow readers) in a diplomatic, open-minded discourse, then I will flag it as trolling. Period.

OK, with that out of the way, here goes!

Rewriting My Troll

troll

I am not even going to waste my time arguing with the merits of this person’s words, at least not here, because that’s not the point of this post. (Although, in fairness to them, they do address an interesting topic about who has “the right” to be a book/art/movie critic.)

I am going to rewrite this troll’s story one line at a time.

These are amazingly patronizing words I am leaving on your blog, which I don’t follow and have never even read before today. I myself have been on the receiving end of trolling or bullying, so now I feel like everyone deserves it.

Well, you know what they say: Those who choose to use their voice in a proactive way will actually blog, and those who choose not to will just troll. I am passive aggressively attacking your blog, when really I am the one struggling with releasing my emotions in a mature way.

I am actually going to be meta here by giving an example of exactly what I am criticizing in your post: redundancies. See, by calling your post both gratuitous and redundant in the same sentence, I myself am being redundant. See how subtly clever I am?

Finally, this entire trolling comment really lets my bitterness at the world shine through. I may have had some legitimate complaints about this book review you wrote, but I chose to take the low road. I could have penned a civilly worded comment disagreeing with your book review, and we could have had a mature exchange where we each learned something from the other person. But really, this isn’t about a book review. This comment and my choice to troll is really just a reflection on my deep-seated personal issues.

So, there you have it, folks. I rewrote my troll so that he or she is now telling a more accurately aimed story.

Tell me, have you had the displeasure of dealing with trolls on your blog (or perhaps elsewhere)? How do you handle them?

Until next time,

xoxo Charlotte

P.S. In case you are wondering, I have still not approved “Em’s” comment. The bleeding heart in me wants to approve it, respond with kindness, and offer them the virtual hug that they so clearly need. The skeptic in me tells me that’s unwise. Alas.

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20 comments

  1. I like that you re-wrote this comment, and it definitely made me wonder if there are trolls out there with blogs. Like, I can’t imagine having to do the work of creating your own creative content and then spending time planning out troll-y comments to send to other blogs as well.

    Liked by 2 people

    • That is a very good question, and one I have been wondering for the past few days as well. My guess is that there are not many trolls who are also content creators themselves. With this troll in particular, the answer is no, or at least that they were not trolling from a WordPress blog account. So perhaps they have a blog but created a throwaway account just to leave comments like this? Either way, who has the time for this?? I just don’t get it.

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  2. Oh please, Charlotte! I implore you, approve the comment so I can dust it off, turn that sonuvabitch sideways and stick it straight up their candy ass (and that condescending smiling emoticon at the end)!

    Somebody definitely boarded the self-righteous train at Dickhead Central here. They deserve to be torn apart.

    To be fair, at least their trolling has a bit of meat. My troll on Amazon simply said “the story makes no sense” and gave it one star. I’ve responded to get more info out of them about what exactly doesn’t make sense (funny use of the term as opposed to “I’m too dumb to understand”), but they haven’t gotten back to me. A barbed return is in the offing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I may well approve it and see how ‘Em’ chooses to respond! I also must thank you for making me laugh and smile with your comment here. The comment came in on Wednesday evening this week, and I won’t lie: I was extremely hurt for the rest of the evening and next day. I took it personally, I wondered if they were right, I thought about quitting blogging altogether. And while I have recovered enough since then to pen this post and inject it with some humor and healthy perspective, I definitely could still use a good laugh brought on by a blogging friend. So, thank you, friend. 🙂

      Coincidentally, I wrote this post yesterday morning, prior to having read your latest posts last night. I actually read your Amazon troll’s review prior to reading your “break” post, and I immediately had the same thought that you do here. At least my troll had a bit of a meat to his comment. It’s a shame, really: It sounds like my troll could have at least had something substantive to say, had they chosen to say it in a mature manner. The way they chose, however, was the Internet equivalent to someone getting up on a platform for a debate and simply saying, “I’m right and you’re wrong!” Zero backup. It’s what children do when they argue; they point fingers and say, “because I said so” or “nuh, uh.” Instead of using actual points to make an argument, they go on personal attacks.

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    • Oh, and another thing that I think you as a fellow writer will appreciate: It boggles the mind that the troll seems to have completely missed the point about critiquing creative writing. The very thing they tried to use as ammunition against me wasn’t ammunition at all. When I said in one of my writing series posts that I had a manuscript that was ‘torn apart’ by an editor, the troll saw that and thought it was ammunition for their trolling. But having a manuscript ‘torn apart’ by an editor is a good thing! How can I ever grow as a writer and learn from my mistakes if an editor (or peer reviewer, or beta reader) doesn’t point out grammatical errors and confusing syntax or cliches. Being ‘torn apart’ by an editor or beta reader means being given tough love — it may not be pleasant to see all that proverbial red ink, but I desperately want the constructive feedback. I’ll never become a good writer. But it obviously has to be specific, actionable, constructive feedback such as “there were spelling errors you need to fix” or “you are using too many adverbs.”

      Your troll did the opposite of that — their feedback was not at all specific or actionable. Simply stating, “it didn’t make sense” is not at all helpful for you the author. If your troll had actually wanted to be helpful, they would have said, “I found xyz confusing for the following reasons: …” That way you could have at least evaluated whether it was just them as a reader or whether there’s a larger issue you’d need to address in your manuscript.

      And with my troll, it really almost makes me laugh that they think that an editor or reviewer ‘tearing apart’ a piece of writing is a bad thing. To be fair, I realize in hindsight that the phrase ‘tore apart’ really is hyperbolic and pejorative, because what I really meant was “an editor took a red pen to my manuscript and found a lot of specific things wrong with it.” Why the troll thinks that’s a bad thing baffles me — if anything, it tells me that they are not a writer themselves, because if they were, they would know that constructive feedback is critical.

      I think I’ll end my novel of a comment here, haha.

      Like

  3. What an amazing response to a troll! I can’t believe that anyone would take time out of their day to send someone a message like that! Their opinion is in the minority – I for one think you’re a great, completely unpatronising writer! I love that you have rewritten it, its a really good way of handling that unwanted and uncalled for negativity. You handled a troll with grace and class!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for your supportive words, Jess! I really appreciate it. As much as I try to tell myself not to let trolls get to me, it is not that easy. When the comment first came in, I definitely took it to heart and thought seriously about just quitting altogether. But then I reminded myself that 99.9% of the people I interact with on WordPress are kind and supportive! Thank you again for your support 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. This post is AMAZING- it made me laugh AND think very seriously, which is a pretty big feat in itself. I love this approach to trolls, because there is no logical reason to be a troll. You gotta make sense of them in any way you can!! I don’t understand the idea of yelling at people (either on the internet or in person)- no one changes their mind because someone angrily screamed/typed barbs at them…. This is a very mature and humorous way to handle a troll, and I’ve got to remember this for myself!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, friend! Haha I am glad that some of the intended humor came through – I was hoping it wouldn’t get lost in the more serious points. I like this approach because, as you say, trolls are not logical. The troll wants us to think it’s logical and to respond with counter-arguments, but that’s futile.

      And I absolutely do not understand the idea of yelling at people (virtually or not) to try to change their mind, either. The exact same sentiment can end up either well-received or ill-received depending entirely on how it is conveyed.

      As I was writing this yesterday, I chuckled to myself as I wondered what would happen if ‘Em’ wanders back to my blog and reads this!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. This is amazing. I think in rewriting their words it gave you power and, at the same time, closure. I totally agree with the point you (and a past commenter) made about the reason for trolling. It’s so true that what they say about others is a reflection on THEM!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I’m a fan of approving all comments (in fact I don’t moderate at all) because my vocal stances on censorship would seem hypocritical if I didn’t. As a result, I have some comments on my blog that leave me feeling extremely uncomfortable. I haven’t been trolled yet on my own blog, but I’ve been attacked when trying to give “helpful feedback” on another blog. My response? Sarcastic rejoinders of course. Plus a post very similar to this one. I think in the world of art review, unless you’re going to always give glowing reviews, you should expect some harsh backlash. As a writer, I crave honest feedback. It’s so easy to get the patronizing “ooh, it’s so good” kind.

    Liked by 1 person

    • This is the exact sort of comment I particularly love, because you’ve really given me pause to stop and think and reevaluate. Don’t get me wrong – I love all comments in the sense that I want my blog to be read and for people to care enough about what they’ve read to leave a comment. But comments like this one that make me go “hmm” are golden.

      And by that I mean, on the one hand, I can appreciate what you say about censorship. I don’t think I have ever expressed my views on censorship specifically on my blog, but I have written a very passionate opinion piece railing against book-banning in public libraries. So, on the one hand, you’ve given me pause to reevaluate whether comment moderation is potentially at odds with my related feelings about book banning.

      Then again, on the other hand, I feel like my beliefs about book-banning in public libraries isn’t the same as comment moderation on my blog, because my blog is not, by definition, a public space in the same way that a library is.

      Anyway, I am still not sure where I will land as far as “Em’s” comment. So, all of this is to say, thank you for the thoughtful and thought-provoking comment.

      And, as to your point about writing any kind of book/art/movie review, I totally agree. Unless it is totally glowing, someone will take issue. And, come to think of it, even a glowing review may elicit some trolls. I am reminded of a local writers group I attended once, where I offhandedly mentioned that I enjoyed Twilight. Cue the evil stares and pitchforks! So, even when I only had positive things to say, there were some who reacted negatively.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Because I am an opinionated woman of color on the internet I have dealt with my share of trolls. The “just ignore them” never sat well with me, because ignoring bullies has never made them go away, and I used to receive that advice a lot. They just up their game and do more vitriolic things in order to get a reaction. I think you’ve done a brilliant job with this post, because you’ve answered them in your own way, and if they’re following or happen to see this post, they’ll see it.

    As for the critique thing, I remember reading a Cracked article about it (among all things), and if I’m remembering the gist of it correctly, the author said something along the lines of one doesn’t need to be a writer, artist, film maker, etc. in order to criticize books, art, or movies (though you’re obviously a writer/author).. We’ve all been exposed to enough narratives to have a formed opinion about what makes said narratives good. Obviously, some people are going to be better than others, and there are nuances to critiques and traits that make some critiques better than others, but it really does seem like this person didn’t agree with what you said about this book, but couldn’t express it in a mature way to open up discourse, and they decided to take an issue that was their own and castigate you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I cannot even imagine the added grief brought on by trolls you must deal with being a woman of color. And I am so sorry for any such trolls that you have to deal with on WordPress, or any other online platform.

      I think you encapsulated the problem with the whole “just ignore it” advice very eloquently. Sure, telling someone to “just ignore it” may seem like the obvious thing to do (and it is certainly nobler than retaliating back at the troll on their trollish level). But as you say, the troll craves a reaction, so they will just keep upping their ante until they’re like a fisherman who finally feels a tug on the line.

      I have been wondering if “Em” may find themselves drifting back to my blog in search of another post to troll. They were using a throwaway account, and I highly doubt they are a follower of mine disguised in a separate account. In a weird way, I’d kind of like to see them find this post and troll it, accusing me of being a baby who can’t handle dissenting opinions. But as I tried to make abundantly clear, I quite enjoy all of my readers’ opinions, be they dissenting or not. Then again, I doubt “Em” understands that.

      As for the whole critique thing, I will have to look for that article you mention – so, thank you! With the caveat that I have yet to read the article, I am inclined to agree with your summary of it here. In fact, last night I was already writing a post about this topic, because I am genuinely curious what my readers think about the topic. As you say here, some critiques are better than others in the sense that they are more helpful, or perhaps in the sense that they are better able to hone in on issues that need addressing.

      I think you are correct in speculating that “Em” simply disagreed with my assessment of the book in question (which is totally cool!), but chose to react immaturely.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thankfully WP has been a bit of a haven away from most of that. The only thing I got here was when I wrote for another blog, and I did a daily cosplay post. Well someone thought that one of my cosplays was from a porn site, which I could never confirm. The source was a picture on imgur, and it was a sort of pinup Marge Simpson where she was unzipping the back of her dress, but there was nothing exposed. They accused me of stealing the picture, which is always a touch and go subject. Because I didn’t know the actual source, it’s unknown whether someone else had stolen it and put it up there or if the person had done so herself, but the troll just wanted to get a rise out of me. There was another who detested the fact that many of the cosplays I posted were from Final Fantasy, my favorite franchise, and they decided to make their ill will known. I haven’t had any problems on my own WP *knock on wood* but I do frequent YouTube, so, well you can probably guess lol.

        It seems like that’s the trolls go to. “You can’t handle what I’m saying,” when in reality no one should have to deal with abuse. I often read the comments on news posts; Yahoo! is probably the worst, and in this turbulent political time, you can probably imagine how virulent things can get. The term “snowflake” is thrown around so much now, it’s almost become a joke. The whole “baby” thing is also their way of mocking sensitivity, which is constantly on trial, but as I’ve seen from the comments on Yahoo! many of the trolls will throw a fit and keep coming back. They really crave attention, which is in and of itself childish.

        Let me see if I can find it! Here it is. It’s Cracked so it’s a little bit crude, but the #3 one deals with concrit. http://www.cracked.com/blog/4-things-people-get-wrong-about-constructive-criticism/

        Whenever I offer concrit, I always try to talk about WHY I liked or didn’t like something especially the latter, because just saying “I didn’t like it” or “This sucked” doesn’t do anything for the creator but give them a bad day for no reason. I’d rather wait until I can verbalize why I didn’t like something before I say I didn’t, and if pressed, I’ll just say “I’m still thinking about it” or “I’m not sure.” I know how devastating harsh criticism can be, and while some people can not only take it, but use it to galvanize themselves and their work, you have others who are wounded by it, and since I’m like the latter, I bear that in mind.

        Like

  8. Eh… fuck em! Seriously. I do like your response, though. I mean, was the troll the person who WROTE the book you were reviewing? I don’t get why they got such a chapped ass about it. It hasn’t happened to me in a long time, but I like to let the troll comments go – it’s more fun when you have blog friends who jump on their back and defend you. I would have responded to this ‘Em’ bitch and defended you if I saw it. It’s more fun like that 😀

    Like

  9. I love the way you have re-framed and re-written the trolls comments. I think it’s best not to approve or get into any dialogue, then they can move on. Well done for taking a positive approach to this issue.

    Like

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