Original fairy tales were often grim stories aimed at scaring children.
One example is the nineteenth century Norse folk tale, ‘The Three Billy Goats Gruff’, in which, a trio of goats attempt to cross a bridge. However, underneath the bridge lurks a dangerous troll.
The troll threatens to “gobble up” the goats for walking over his bridge.
Fast forward to today and we now have modern trolls (not the adorable troll doll types) who choose to “gobble up” anyone who crosses their cyber path.
Last week the Herald Sun closed its comment section from its coverage of the women’s Australian Football League because they had received more than 300 comments of a “sexist tone”.
This followed sexist and degrading online comments last year about a photograph depicting AFL star, Tayla Harris.
Thankfully, the comments I have read on this site have been intelligent and well considered. I agree with some and not others but the tone has been respectful.
What’s the best response to online trolling? What if we dealt with these people the way we would if they made their comments face to face? That may sometimes mean ignoring the ranting and moving on to people we love and respect.
However, if the comments cross lines of sexism, racism or other forms of bullying that may not be enough.
A recent ABC news article dispelled the myth that online trolls are disorganised. Apparently they are often highly organised and target people in marginalised groups as a pack. Maybe those that disagree with the trolls could be more organised and provide more significant levels of positive support for people being trolled.
In the original story of the Billy Goats Gruff, the three goats had enough, attacked the troll and ate him. We must not attack trolls and become like them but when their comments cross a line maybe we should help them to realise how outnumbered they are.