Ah yes, the hellscape of online comments. As a seasoned poster, I’m very familiar with what comments can bring: constructive criticism, spam, trolls, and everything in between. Maybe it’s because I grew up online, but “rude” comments don’t typically bother me much, especially if it’s from an anonymous source.
I personally think it’s fucking hilarious when I get haters in my comments, especially if it’s someone anonymous or someone I don’t know. When this happens, I usually pin the comment to the top of my comment section. These type of people aren’t actually providing criticism, they’re usually just spewing bullshit. As an example, when I posted this, I had a guy I’d never heard of in my comments who was just hating.
I don’t know who this guy is. I don’t know how he found this post. So logically, why would I care? I think the mere fact that this stranger took the time out of his day to write not only one, but TWO comments is just so absurd. Like, what does he think he’s gaining from this? It’s so funny man, I’m living rent free in this stranger’s head. This guy is also clearly a moron. “Chronically online”, when he’s the guy with 10,000 followers and no posts. He’s not making content like I am, he’s not putting out stuff for people to see, it seems all this guy does is exist on the internet. Maybe if it was a big creator shitting on me in the comments, I’d take it personally, but it’s from some loser who doesn’t even post.
I think part of this mindset is just being confident in what you put out. When I post, I’m not worrying “is this good enough?”. I know it’s good, I’m the one who made it. If people aren’t adding either 1) criticism, or 2) comedy to my comment section, I disregard it. I throw it out entirely. In one ear, out the other.
We do a little trolling
In my opinion, trolling can be put into two categories: Personal attacks, and nonsense. The personal attacks would be things like antisemitism, misogyny, doxing, swatting, etc. This isn’t particularly funny. I understand why those type of messages have a negative effect on people’s mental health, and they really shouldn’t be tolerated in an online space.
The other category, nonsense, is hilarious. Some people will take any mention of them that isn’t overtly positive as a personal slight against their character. A great example of this is what happened between everyone’s favourite Certified Lover Boy, Drake, and music reviewer Anthony Fantano. Fantano has been historically critical of Drake’s music. Not blind hate, actual constructive criticism. One day, Fantano posts this video, in which he claims Drake DM’d him a cookie recipe. Everyone thought this was just a stupid joke by Fantano, but it was actually one of the greatest moments of trolling I have ever witnessed.
Drake did DM Fantano, but it was not a cookie recipe. It was him throwing insults at Fantano and his wife. Drake must have expected Fantano to publicly acknowledge this, which he didn’t, instead turning it into an elaborate shitpost. Clearly, Drake was not happy with this, as a few days later he leaked the real DM’s on his Instagram story.
- Drake slides into Fantano’s DM’s to hate on him, hoping he’ll start a public beef
- Fantano makes a video that would imply he’s acknowledging the messages, but instead it’s just fake DM’s
- No one actually thinks Drake messaged Fantano, so Drake doesn’t get the reaction he wanted.
- Drake gets mad over this, and leaks the messages himself
- This causes Fantano to get the reaction HE wanted (making Drake look like the crybaby he is)
It’s masterful how he pulled this off. Like the TIME article says, trolls feed on attention. If you don’t give them that attention, they can’t win, or even better, they make themselves lose (like in the case of our good friend Drake).
I think trolling can be an incredible form of comedy if done correctly. One of the most famous trolls is a guy by the name of Ken M. Ken was never malicious in his trolling, instead role playing as the most inept person you’ve ever come across online. All he does is just post braindead takes and watch as people take him seriously. The comedy isn’t meant for the people he’s directly interacting with, it’s meant for the third-party observer to the entire interaction.
In my opinion, one of the precursors to the internet troll is my all-time favourite comedian, Norm Macdonald. He would often do the same type of comedy, where it’s not meant to be enjoyed by those he is interacting with, instead the audience is those who observe it later as detached spectators. My favourite example of this is his 2000 appearance on The View, which I would highly recommend watching (it’s only 7 minutes).
In 7 minutes, he completely subverts the talk show formula. They start by asking him questions about American politics (which is ridiculous considering he’s Canadian), and he immediately derails the conversation by spewing the most absurd takes possible, like insinuating Bill Clinton murdered a man in office. His whole goal on this performance was to fuck with the hosts. It wasn’t funny for them, but it’s sure funny for us.
“Trolling” really isn’t anything new. People have been indulging in this type of comedy forever. That’s why I find it strange when people like TIME say “trolling is, overtly, a political fight”. I wouldn’t really say so, it’s just the trolling that gets the most attention is the political stuff. People have been messing with each other on the internet since the internet was a thing, one of the most widely known examples being the Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus.
It’s the malicious trolling that is a problem, the trolling which is only meant to hurt people. It’s fair to say that shouldn’t be on the internet, but honestly, my advice is just try to ignore it. That’s not always possible obviously, especially if you’re a big name, but I’ve always lived by that tactic. I’ve had people try to impersonate me on Instagram, or make an account trying to slander me. You know what I do? I don’t respond to any messages, I block them, and I stop thinking about it. Lo and behold, I never hear from them again. Engaging with trolls will always make it worse, so we should all try to resist that urge wherever possible. On top of that, it’s good to use tools like the spam filters on WordPress, or restricting certain words in your Instagram comments.
Of course, I don’t have the answers to stop hate online, I just wanted to outline some examples of “trolling” that I personally find to be really funny. I think everyone takes the internet too seriously nowadays, and sometimes you just gotta lighten up.