Is the media making Trolling worse? How to stop the Trollstrollin

By Stefan Drury, Owner, Fly Digital Pty Ltd

The media’s current obsession with “Trolls” is doing more to encourage copycat behaviour rather than highlighting what was already a well known but relatively small issue within digital media.

This morning I read “Confessions of a Troll: Trolling is an art” on the Sydney Morning Herald website. The article is one of many recent reports in the media hyping up the subject of trolling even suggesting there are those people that believe trolling is “a threat to civilisation”.

As someone who’s been online since the days of Netscape Navigator I’ve seen my fair share of trolling. Back then we just used to call it “people being idiots”. It existed back in the days of bulletin boards and forums. It existed before Facebook or Twitter had been invented.

How did people deal with it back then? We ignored it. Marked it as “spam” or simply moved on and didn’t give that user our attention. That usually stopped it. Sure, today it has a fancy name but don’t be fooled, the practise is not new, it’s never been cool, and it does not deserve this much attention.

I’m not suggesting that the act of sending abusive, hurtful or aggresive messages to others via Social Media is acceptable. Nor am I saying bullying in any form (on or offline) should simply be accepted. What I am saying, however, is the way the media are hyping up the practise by latching on to the term “Trolling” is making the situation worse in my opinion, sensationalising something that should be dealt with subtly and strongly but not in front of a watching world.

Now every Australian with a Twitter account has been educated to the whats, whys and hows of making offensive and often hurtful remarks online and thanks to the Australian media they now have a fancy name to call themselves too.