Why Comment Trolls Don’t Deserve to Be ‘Fed’
There’s a near-universal belief in dealing with comment trolls, those who show up on a blog to do little more than cause problems: ‘Don’t feed the trolls.’
Recently, I received a response to a very old post here on this blog from someone who might best be described as being from a group of blog readers known as comment trolls. In fact, the post was so old that I actually had to go back and read it to remember it, and I still barely remember writing it.
What convinced me that I did write it was that I agree now with what was written then and it’s certainly written in my style. But after almost 14 years of blogging and well past 6,000 posts, there’d be no way I could remember them all.
The post, which I wrote more than five years ago, was titled, “Marine Gives ‘Em the Finger!” It was a somewhat whimsical title for a more serious topic.
In a nutshell, it was a story of a marine was wounded in combat and told his doctors he would rather lose a finger than allow them to cut his wedding ring. I remarked that this was a ridiculous choice:
Here’s a 19-year-old, wounded in a war, probably in shock, suffering several shrapnel wounds and resulting blood loss. A doctor tells him that they need to cut a piece of metal to save one of his fingers and he somehow decides for himself that the finger is less valuable than the ring?? And what’s worse, a doctor agrees to this?!?
No matter how you feel about the “nobility” or “true love” demonstrated by the gesture itself, it’s worth adding that in the ensuing chaos, the surgeons, who inexplicably agreed to cut off a man’s finger rather than to cut through a piece of jewelry to save said finger, managed to lose the ring he sacrificed a digit to save.
In reading the post, I had completely forgotten the story but was pleasantly surprised to find that all these years and all these posts later, I still recognized my own writing, and even still managed to agree with my original notions about the story.
In the last month, however, five years later, a commenter who identified himself as “Wade” left the following comment:
“You’ve obviously never been a Marine wounded in combat. IF this has to be explained to you, you wouldn’t understand, anyway.”
“Wade” didn’t have anything nice to say, did he?
I’m not sure if someone like him can understand why I removed his comment. But if it would have to be explained to him, he wouldn’t understand, either, I’m quite sure.
Online trolls never seem to understand — or just don’t care — that their comments generally bring nothing to the table. If this guy actually believes I don’t understand something that he does, explaining it would be the most obvious solution…at least to most people.
If he thinks whatever he seems to understand is beyond those who’ve never been a Marine, no matter how hard they might try to explain it, then they might just as well move on as leave so useless a remark.
All he meant to do is be condescending and insulting. And since it’s my blog, I reserve the right to remove those kinds of comments from those kinds of people so that the rest of you — those who know how to be respectful — don’t have to be subjected to rude treatment.
Comment trolls love to mistreat others. And no matter how much you may try to engage, that’s primarily what they’ll continue to do.
I chose to drop his comment from the actual post because there’s no reason for anyone in my audience to engage him and, potentially, be treated in a similar manner.
It’s my site. I have no problem making that call.
Maybe “Wade” will one day make a sincere attempt to explain why it makes more sense for a soldier to want to lose a finger than have a piece of jewelry — something that’s only symbolic of a marriage, but not the marriage itself — damaged.
And for what it’s worth, I asked around among some female colleagues of mine. “Wade,” no matter how much military experience he might have, might be surprised to know that not one of the women I spoke with said they would rather have their husband surrender his ring finger instead of his ring. Not one.
Maybe “Wade” can explain to them — and at least one of them is a military wife — why they’re wrong, too.
But from his tone, I doubt he ever will.