Abuse online. Or trolling. You’ve heard of it, for sure, and might even have been the target of malicious comments.
Commenting on someone’s picture is fine, but threatening, labelling and abusing are not. They do not come under the ambit of expressing one’s views. Putting up a picture in a bikini, or one about weight gain or loss, or one expressing a political opinion are enough to get the trolls going. Celebrities, musicians, business honchos—no one is spared. Like any other person out there, being in the limelight does not armour celebrities against hurt. Some like Neha Dhupia, Taapsee Pannu and Hard Kaur handle this like champs, but not everyone can. There are hundreds of ordinary folks like you and me out there, who face this sort of abuse online, and who get even rape and death threats. Trolls derive sadistic pleasure from abusing others online.
Having an opinion or disagreeing with someone is perfectly fine. Tact and diplomacy are key. Also, if you don’t have anything constructive to say, best not say anything at all. The line between being funny and disrespectful is thin. Think before you cross it.
Youngsters are often the most vulnerable as it hits their self-esteem. Considered harmless fun by trolls, mean comments may actually cause depression, crush confidence forever or even lead a person to suicide.
Do you know that trolling is a criminal offence and can land a person behind bars?
While most trolls deliberately start an argument online to provoke, they do not realise the serious implications. Those who are trolled deal with it by not reacting, not reporting, or merely by blocking their trolls. Dealing with it, however, is not the answer and, in fact, encourages such behaviour. Trolling is a form of bullying and needs corrective action.
Studies indicate that trolls often suffer from low self-esteem or crave attention. In this ever-crowded trollscape, the internet provides power, but also anonymity. Trolls hiding their identity behind their keyboards and sending inflammatory messages consider this cool and say that it is freedom of expression. Others would deem it cowardice. Taken to an extreme, this becomes defamation and harassment. Damage to a career, relationship, even life are just some of its far-reaching effects. Trolls aren’t afraid because more often than not, they get away with it. There is no fear or remorse.
However, it is easy enough to find the username and IP address of such people, report them and land them behind bars.
Singha’s show ‘Troll Police’ airs on MTV every Saturday at 7pm