On the weekend I watched a YouTube clip while eating lunch. A mindless 10 minute collection of baseball bloopers. It’s harmless fun and gave me a chuckle while I digested my sandwich. The video ended and for whatever reason, I scrolled down to the comments section below. I should have known better. Just how many people felt the need to abuse the creator of the video blew my mind. Simply because he included clips that these wise viewers didn’t feel warranted the esteemed title of ‘blooper’. In my opinion (I see the irony), some were and some weren’t, but ultimately it doesn’t matter? The video creator wasn’t trying to win an Oscar for his incredible video production. To all those viewers who couldn’t help themselves, move on and do something else and above all, be grateful that someone else took the time to put the video clips together to provide you with precious entertainment.
Quick disclaimer: Technically the definition of a troll is someone who purposefully tries to stir shit up online and provoke others into a response for their own amusement. Not everyone who posts nasty and abusive comments is technically a troll, but for the sake of this post, I’m lumping them all in together.
The digital age has made it too easy to mindlessly comment without the brain needing to push past first gear. Speak now, think later. Or don’t think at all. It doesn’t matter as by that point you’ve already left an irrelevant comment, and moved on to the next video, or news article, where you can mindlessly comment again. There are no ramifications because trolls believe it is their right to say what they want, when they want, to whoever they want. No accountability. No confrontation. Almost total anonymity.
Get online and you are quickly exposed to persistent and unnecessary negativity and cynicism, uncensored and unfiltered barrages of abuse, hate, discrimination, and slowly the trust we hopefully still hold in humanity erodes. Every day online trolling is becoming more and more rampant and if we aren’t careful it will become the norm. It’ll be the rest of us hiding under bridges while the trolls rampage above.
Every comment section on videos, news articles, Instagram accounts, discussion boards and so on should require a user to register before commenting. After two days, they receive an email advising they can now post a comment. How many people would make the effort? How many people would even remember what they wanted to comment in the first place? The heat of the moment would be long gone, and the initial burst of needing to unleash words onto the world will have dissipated. If it’s important, a two day wait is nothing.
Until that happens, what can you do? Next time you’re about to click ‘Post comment’, think about what you’re going to say. Is it a valuable contribution? Will it positively or negatively impact the people who are going to read it? Will it only add to the truckloads of mindless drivel already clogging up our saturated digital world? And if you see an abusive comment that invokes an emotional response, causing your typing fingers to twitch because you desperately want to reply, DON’T DO IT!
Be the better person and whatever you do, don’t feed the trolls.