If you're anything like me, you're constantly inundated with messages from online trolls. Whether it's in the comments section of your favorite website or on social media, these hateful people seem to be everywhere.
And while it's easy to write them off as ignorant and uneducated, the truth is that they often use very specific language to get under our skin. In fact, there are certain words and phrases that they use again and again in order to stir up drama and get a reaction.
So what are these common troll buzzwords? Keep reading to find out!
"You're just being petty..."
"You're just being petty" is a phrase used all too often to brushes away our experiences and invalidate the severity of past traumas. While it's important to move on from difficult times, "petty" behavior is often an indication that we have yet to address issues or find closure. As hard as it may be, confronting challenges and taking accountability for our actions are necessary to heal. Setting boundaries and seeing the future through a lens free of the past can help us break free from "petty" feelings and create healthy lives.
"That's so narcissistic."
‘That’s so narcissistic’ is a term used confidently both by therapists and narcissists. While the word itself has a great deal of power it should be used with far greater caution as it can quickly devolve into an instrument of emotional manipulation. Redirection and patronizing behaviour are often symptoms of a false sense of superiority, thereby devaluing the impact that trauma and boundaries can have on another person. This powerful word is tossed about without consideration for the effects that it may be having on those that we claim to care about, making it important to consider repercussions before using it.
"That's not what happened. Gaslighting!"
Gaslighting is more complex than an unflattering interaction with a stranger on the internet; it's an insidious form of emotional manipulation that can have long-term devastating impacts. We reframe it as this trigger-happy experience which further belittles the victims and their feelings. What do gaslighting victims feel? Frustration, anger, judgement and low self-esteem among other things. We can be sympathetic and disagree without reframing the trauma away; show recognizing emotions without glamorizing them so we don't ignore or forget the wrongs others have done in times past.
"They'll/I'll sue you for slander."
When trolls come out of the woodwork and start hollering about how you've committed slander, think twice before you take them too seriously. After all, these trolls love to throw around legal jargon with a sense of superiority - but in reality, no one is actually going to sue you for something as nebulous as "slander" or "defamation." They just want to make empty threats and try to settle personal grievances without involving lawyers or resorting to litigation. So don't let trolls scare you into silence - they won't be taking anyone to court anytime soon!
"Such toxic behaviour!"
Reporting on toxic behaviour can certainly be intimidating and feel like a personal attack to a troll. However, this is far from the case - it's an important step in recognizing unhealthy patterns of behavior and taking action to heal ourselves and our communities. Oftentimes people who use the word "toxic" feel attacked because they might have also committed similar acts that they're not presently proud of. Unfortunately, misuse of this term has become a tool for silencing you, manipulating your emotions and discrediting your experiences. It cheapens the very real impact of trauma and bullying when it's wielded against someone for simply trying to report their experiences.
Geez, trolls can sure become quite inflammatory when you least expect it. These aren't exactly online compliments. Sometimes terms like "being petty," "narcissistic," or even "gaslighting" are thrown around, and that's not always the easiest to hear. Not to mention the stress of a potential lawsuit if slander is the underlying accusation… all of these factors make for one toxic environment! Worry not, trolling doesn't suddenly provide these people with a catch-all degree in psychology or litigation. But it's still stressful! So how do we deal with this? We try our best to (you guessed it) ignore them, but sometimes there are trolls that stick around despite our efforts. That's why it's important to remember that pushing back is also an option - as long as your response is civil and without ill will towards yourself or others. So let me ask you – when have trolls used these terms against you? Let me know in the comments below!