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Get trolls off the internet and back into folklore

Updated: 2023-09-19 08:19 ( China Daily )
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Before my 40s, when I thought of trolls, they were ugly little creatures or little dolls with big, colorful hair that sat atop pencils. In fact, trolls originate from Scandinavian folklore and are depicted as ugly creatures that live up in the hills or caves. This description is not a far cry from their modern-day iteration, usually found dwelling in dark corners of the internet instead of under fairy-tale bridges.

When I think of internet trolls, I imagine an isolated person who spends countless hours online, sitting in the dark, scrolling through other people's social media posts and who doesn't often speak to people IRL — that's "in real life" to those who are not up on their millennial lingo — and gets their kicks from eliciting reactions, whether positive or negative. Internet trolls are people who are "ugly on the inside".

However, their ugliness can have a serious impact, more so than the mythical ones I mention above, especially on people who are more sensitive or suffer from mental health issues. There have been countless accounts of unassuming people who just want to document and share their lives with others online, only to experience a backlash with horrific results.

A beautiful young woman posted about her grandfather and how she was loyally by his bedside to take care of him. People attacked her for her pink hair, calling her a "nightclub girl" — and what's wrong with that anyway?

Another woman, whose son was tragically killed when his teacher accidentally hit the boy with a car, posted her grief online. Many made vicious comments about her makeup and accused her of caring more about her appearance than her son. Both women took their own lives as a result.

And these are just two examples of thousands where online trolls picked the posters apart, with hurtful and worthless comments that led to deadly results.

Unfortunately, online bullying is an ongoing social issue that's tough to moderate. Had the internet existed when I was a teenager, I'm not sure what my life would have become. Being bullied face-to-face was already a huge struggle to overcome. With the Metaverse on the verge of becoming mainstream, bullying and sexual harassment have been discussed without any resolution of how to manage it, which is one aspect that makes me apprehensive about this advancing technology.

Some might say that, if people post or participate, they should develop a thicker skin to handle such problems, but how is a person to know that if they post about their devotion to their dying grandfather or their grief over a child's death, trolls are going to come out of hiding and attack them?

One way for those who want to share their lives online to deal with these awful people is to try to think of the trolls the same way you would think of any bully. If someone treats people in an aggressive or ugly manner, there is something wrong with them — they suffer from loneliness, insecurity, jealousy, etc.

If there were a way to reach the cyber trolls, I would say that, if a person is posting something and it doesn't affect or hurt you, don't comment. Be nice. Get a life. Get off the internet. Go outside. Get a hobby. Maybe try to make real friends. Mind your own business. Grow up. But for everyone's sake, let people live their lives without making negative comments. Living IRL is already hard enough.


Kara Schroeder



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