Are You Complicit In Trolling? 3 Signs To Look For And How To Stop
As individuals spend more scrolling through social media, online bullying and trolling continues to impact victims with no forms of escape or resolution.
This might sound like a familiar scenario:
- Your friend tags you in an Instagram post
- It’s those four men that appear in every meme, except someone has edited it to look like they’re singing sea shanties (you know the one)
- You find it hilarious and reply to your friend’s comment, making comments on their appearance and how silly you think they are. Close the app and move on
Many individuals see their comments online as harmless jokes as part of our undying meme culture, but it is imperative that users understand the fine line between jest, constructive criticism and being complicit in online bullying.
This article covers the importance of regulations such as Harvey’s Law to make online abuse and trolling a punishable offence. The article also explains the signs to look out for if you are complicit in trolling and how to stop.
What is Harvey’s Law?
Harvey’s Law is a proposed law which would make trolling, online abuse and bullying a punishable offence. The law also wants to create a registry of known online abusers and trolls available to the public.
Harvey’s Law is pioneered by Katie Price in aid to protect her son Harvey from the trolling and online abuse he has experienced in the past. To help raise awareness of the law, BigClothing4U and Harvey Price have partnered to create a collection of gender and size-inclusive t-shirts to raise awareness of Harvey’s Law and empower people to stand up against trolls.
Harvey was born on the autism spectrum and with septo-optic dysplasia, a rare disorder which affects brain function, vision and hormones. Unfortunately, bullies have used this as an excuse to make Harvey the forefront of cruel trolling attacks. Many of which take the form of a “harmless” meme that, whilst people might find funny, has caused stress, anguish and hurt to the Price family.
To help individuals navigate the impact of their online comments, now let’s look at three signs to look out for and how to help make social media a more positive experience for everyone.
3 Signs to Look Out for and How to Stop
1. Are you laughing with everyone involved or is someone being laughed at?
You might think that your comment or meme is hilarious and that everyone else will think the same. But before you click “send”, consider if there will be someone that feels singled out or ridiculed by this joke. You might think it’s harmless banter, but especially as in lockdown with no (physical) social interaction in the outside world, this can lead to the butts of the joke feeling anxious about their position in a group.
2. Consider all people that will be impacted or influenced by your comments
This is the most important as it can also save you from potential disagreements with friends, family and colleagues.
Before you send a comment or meme, think about every single person that could be affected when reading it. This includes anyone you are sending it to and, if it’s a public comment, any person that could read it. If your message is about someone who the comment has not been sent to, you should also contemplate how they might feel if they read it - even if it is a private comment.
If you think anyone who could read your comment could be upset, angry or influenced to hurt another person, you are better off not clicking “send.”
3. If criticising, focus on a resolution or what you want to see in the future
It is understandable that you might want to leave some constructive comments for an influencer or brand. However, when doing so, you should always focus on a resolution or what you would like to see in the future.
If you didn’t like a video or piece of content that an influencer had published, rather than calling them every name under the sun or being rude about their appearance, say that you prefer a different format or think that something else suits them a lot more. You face a better chance of not being blocked too.
When offering criticism to a company or brand, this tip could also help you get that refund or your order faster than if you unleashed hell on them.
These tips should help navigate the impact of your behaviour on social media and how to create a positive experience for everyone online. It’s easy to slip into the pattern of sharing memes or writing comments without thinking about the other people who might be affected. Sometimes it’s even harder to remember that a brand or a profile of anyone seemingly famous could have a human on the receiving end, experiencing the effects of the same pandemic and dealing with their own problems.