It was fascinating to read an article on news.com.au titled ‘Confessions of an Internet Troll’. Journalist Peter Hoare shares insight to his own experiences of Internet trolling and explains why he thinks people do it, and what they get from it. What especially intrigues me is why so often people allow others to upset them to the extent they do.
‘Often we, as people, innately crave attention. And a certain portion of humanity needs to get that attention by any means necessary. Sadly, insults draw bigger responses than compliments. That’s the nature of humanity. So when trolls are subconsciously trying to get the world to notice them, they’ll bark out contempt that often has very little real emotion behind it. They’re just typing for typing’s sake, hoping to get that reaction.’
Peter acknowledges that when in his teen years he chose to take on the Bea Arthur fan club, by way of what has become known as Internet trolling, he was behaving like ‘an ass’ but insists
he was motivated by his addition to the the inevitable reactions his comments would insight. Here is how it was as Peter describes it:
‘As far as the Bea Arthur fanclub went, I was public enemy numero uno. And I absolutely loved it. It was simply hilarious. I’d laugh to the point of tears while needling these poor old ladies. I’d pay top dollar for screenshots of these virtual battles now.’
The article reminded me very much of my relationship with my brother Ronan when we were growing up. For a few years there most days Ronan would do something to upset me, more often than not on purpose. It took me a long time to realise how much fun my brother was having watching me get upset. Slowly I began to realise I had the power to ignore him. Finally I could see that without my attention he was powerless to harm me, all I had to do was not take the bait when dangled in front of me.
In business I see a lot of people place too much importance on the point of view of unreasonable or misinformed people. Worrying about what difficult people will think or say, seriously affects the happiness and success of many people at work. Disregarding overly critical, destructive and unfair comments is an insurmountable challenge for some people. Irrespective of how challenging it can be we all have the power to choose what we pay attention to and what we allow to impact how we feel.
We are each responsible for our own self-confidence and sense of self worth. Unkind or harsh words only impact upon us to when we choose to let them. While easier said than done we have the power to control the influence anyone can have on us. Of course keep an open mind to other perspectives, but be careful not to allow the mentality and behaviour of other people to dominate your thoughts, feelings or actions.
As Peter suggests ‘… if you’re a musician, actor, director, dancer, painter, writer or anyone else who creates a product and puts it out into the world, always remember to take the negative responses in stride. Never let an internet troll get to you. If you do, they win.’