Trolls and social media

picture from the guardian.com

I’ve been thinking about mean people today, the folks who use social media to go off on other people/situations/news stories.

If you are using social media, you probably know that FOX News has called Robin Williams a coward, and that Robin’s daughter Zelda has quit Instagram and Twitter because of trolls who unleashed their abuse on Zelda and her dad.

As someone who has dealt with trolls in the past (two people I knew years ago who bullied me via email), I know how much online bullying/abuse can traumatize you, especially when you are going through a tough time. In my case, I was just starting to come out of a difficult period of grieving over the death of my mom. I was using blogging as a way of coping, and I got hit right between the eyes with threats and abuse. 

I was finally able to work again, getting back on track financially, and I had to deal with two abusive people.

Great.

I dealt with the situation, somehow, the best I could at the time. I should have just blocked both of them right away, but I truthfully didn’t think of it at the time! One of my trolls threatened to have me fired from my job, the other one just used her email account to unleash a barrage of mean, hateful communications that made me realize that this was a person I needed to avoid, now and forever. 

My boss at the time was very supportive, and put me in contact with law enforcement and legal eagles who gave me some really good advice. I also deleted my blog, because it was just too much for me. I was looking for peace and support, not hate.

When I think of my situation a few years back, I’m sure it was really easy for these folks to bully and harass me long distance. It was also a way for both of them to direct their unhappiness at some hapless twit (i.e., me) who had her own issues at the time.

It took me a long time to shake off this whole situation, and to feel comfortable blogging and being on social media. I understand why Zelda Williams quit Twitter and Instagram; she’s not only dealing with her personal grief, but also the very public suicide of her father. Despite the thousands of supportive comments, she has to deal with a news agency and anchor who will say anything to get mentioned on social media, in addition to private trolls who enjoy just being plain old mean.

Speaking only for myself, I think that I’ve developed a thicker skin, and should trolls bully me again I will block them immediately, file a complaint with their email providers and/or ISP’s. 

At least that’s what I think I will do, because we never know how we will actually deal with situations, do we? I may be tired, or not feeling well, or stressed out about something going on in my life. 

This online life is a strange beast, isn’t it? I find social media a wonderful way to interact with people from around the world, yet by doing so I put myself at risk of being bullied, having my private information stolen, or just flamed by trolls.

As someone who’s been online almost daily since December 2004, I wish that I had some foolproof way for people to protect themselves. As a person who gets a lot of pleasure from social media, all I can do is caution you all to be careful whilst communicating online. And if you feel you must delete some of your social media accounts for awhile, then do so. I’ve deleted a number of blogs, quit and rejoined Twitter a few times, and come back when I’ve felt ready to do so.

Trolls are here to stay, I guess.

But–so are the good people who also use social media. It’s those people, many of whom I have communicated with online for years, that brought me back to blogging and tweeting and pinning. I hope y’all have access to these good people also, and that your social media experiences are always positive!

To Zelda Williams and her family, all I can do is voice my support during this time of unbelievable loss for them, and to hope that things get better for them soon. I applaud Zelda for doing what she needs to do for herself during this difficult time.

Okay, meandering personal discussion over.

picture of the troll from guardian.com

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About boomergrl49

Mom, Grandma, social worker, blogger. I love reading fiction of all kinds, and I'm also addicted to television, especially Fringe!

Posted on August 13, 2014, in personal thoughts and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on Trolls and social media.

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