How to spot a troll

When someone mentions a ‘troll,’ what springs to mind?

A) an unwanted guest

B) a creepy toy for children

C) a little from column A, a little from column B

No matter which ‘troll’ pops to mind, we can probably all agree that they’re no fun to have around.

What is trolling?

Just like the troll wreaking havoc in the Hogwarts bathroom, internet trolls are in it for the chaos. The main purpose of trolling is to stir up trouble and get reactions from other people. Chances are, trolls don’t really even believe what they’re saying – they just want to cause a little mayhem.

This can mean anything from luring people into silly, meaningless discussions (can someone please clarify if drop bears are real?) to posting purposely offensive, controversial or ignorant opinions (think: ‘I’m not racist, but…’).

Trolls can often be found in comments sections, on message boards like 4Chan, or anywhere you look on social media. They'll often have a default avatar and a new account, and will never, ever, ever, be using their real names.

Trolls can be motivated by a variety of factors: boredom, a lack of satisfaction with their own lives, a desire to watch the world burn. They all have one thing in common, though: they hate being ignored, so that's exactly how you should deal with them.

Is trolling cyberbullying?

Trolling and cyberbullying are similar because they both happen online and cause harm to others. However, a cyberbully’s main goal is to put the spotlight on someone else by hurting them. Trolls, on the other hand, want to be the star of the show. They don’t usually care who it is they offend, annoy or upset. So long as someone is biting back, they’re happy.

Trolling means only one person is laughing

If you’ve ever been unlucky enough to be on the receiving end of a noogie, you’ll know that even comments that are meant to be funny can really hurt. Trolls might view their posts as ‘harmless fun’, but they can still upset people. While that’s different from cyberbullying, it’s still not okay.

How to deal with trolls

Ignore them as much as possible. Whether that means logging off, blocking them, reporting them, or just moving to another online space, do whatever you have to do to get them off your mind. If they're particularly bad or won't go away, there are people you can report them to.

What can I do now?

  • Read up on cyberbullying.

  • Try some of our self-care tips if you’re feeling frustrated or hurt by trolls.