By the time, I landed here at Medium I was the veteran of many a Facebook flame war. I developed a thick skin and never changed my Facebook profile to HIDE anything I posted. I never believed the BS about privacy settings. It also made sure I kept control of my emotions because everything I wrote was set to Public.
If things got hot heavy for me on something I wrote, I tried to keep my cool and engage in the debate. If I became exhausted by a thread of pure negativity and hate. I would write one last comment DNFTT. After that, I would ignore them.
Do Not Feed the Trolls, because to deny the existence of trolls is to deny reality. If you are a real troll, I call you out and I move on. I may let them have the last word if they want, but I just ignore them forevermore. The agenda of trolls is simply to sow chaos for their own amusement. The behavior of trolls is too destructive for it not to be called out and THEN IGNORED. Trolls crave attention and without it, they fade away.
I brought these battle-hardened attitudes to Medium a few years ago. I do NOT block. It seems wrong to react to people that way. I don’t want to live in an echo chamber. I have seen what happens to my fellow citizens when they choose this option.
This is not to say it has not been difficult. Facebook and Medium are two completely different social media universes. Facebook is shallow while Medium is deeper…or at least should be. The depth of Medium means one's emotions are far more invested in the reactions of people to what you put out there. This is why people can feel significant pain after they invest hours of time at the keyboard writing something which does not get curated and which gets no traffic.
Writers are kind of like trolls in this way. If writers do not get attention, they can just fade away. Why invest all those hours at the keyboard if no one cares? I recall the first time I was asked why I thought anything I wrote mattered. “Isn’t it just arrogance to believe other people care what you think?”, I was asked. When I was younger, I might have faded on just the question. In fact, I probably did exactly that more than once, if I am honest.
However, I am older now. I believe in myself. I am investing in myself. I am documenting the arc of my experience. I am sharing what I think is valuable even if no one thinks it is right now. There is a seventy-five year Mickey Mouse copyright now, so maybe later. LOL.
Despite the thick skin I have developed over the years, I remain vulnerable. I have had some vicious comments on Medium. They don't seem vicious to outsiders, but in the context of a writer’s world, they cut deep. I had one particularly nasty exchange with someone who constantly pointed out how lightly trafficked my essays and words were on the platform. They said nothing about my ideas in particular. They went straight for the most vulnerable point on a writer.
They went on and on about how my opinion was not welcome on Medium. They wrote things that made me wonder if they were right. It made me wonder if it was possible they could see my statistics. Of course, the amount of applause any particular essay gets is publicly available so plenty of transparency there for a troll to use against anyone.
This does not mean I think applause should be hidden. The world needs a lot more transparency right now. It is so helpful in identifying authenticity these days. One of the destructive things brought about by the trolls is the need to hide from their abuse hinders legitimate attempts at transparency.
I will not lie, I thought about blocking the person, but I could not do it. If I write, I must be able to stand the criticism. I defended each of the criticisms as best I could. As we traded comments the troll started to reveal how amateurish they really were. Still, the comments were cutting.
They asked why I was wasting my time writing on Medium when obviously Medium was a place for intellectual debate and discussion. I clearly was not intelligent enough for a place like Medium. The lack of applause and attention was a clear message to me that I was not wanted on the platform. Medium was a place I clearly had no business frequenting given how lightly my writing was trafficked. The troll hammered the point home, concentrating on the perceived weak point of any writer.
“Couldn’t I hear the crickets chirping in my wheelhouse?” I believe was one I took to heart. Just as I started to reach for the DNFTT stick, the troll rage quit the conversation. I don't like using the DNFTT character string, but sometimes it is necessary. I was relieved to not have to bring it out. The troll had revealed their inherent trollness through their own behavior. I took it as a minor victory, but still painful enough to wish I had not had to joust with the troll in the first place.
Somehow I think I am going to be really tested now that I wrote this and posted it. I am going to stick by the aforementioned though. My ideas need to stand on their merit and I am getting better at ignoring in my old age. Besides, I need to be able to take criticism, so my ideas can be made better. Ultimately, this is the reason to accept criticism. I want to be better and I want my ideas to be as good as they can be. Given the nature of what I write about it, I need to endure criticism, fend it off or accept it as valid.
I am not going to report anyone either. In fact, ME reporting anyone for ANYTHING seems highly unlikely. I have not reported a troll for the same reason I never call the police. I don't expect to block anyone either, though obviously a script kiddie could point a denial of service attack at this profile using a rudimentary bot. At that point, I may need to reconsider, but even then I am blocking a bot and not a human. We will see, but Gumby and Pokey were childhood heroes of mine. I won’t be a blockhead.