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As an optimistic dreamer, I couldn’t be more thrilled to see all the wonderful progress of the vegan movement in the last few years. As veganism gains greater success and visibility, it also attracts more opposition from those who fear these changes for whatever reason. Trolls may seem to be coming out of the woodwork sometimes, and even a couple of cruel attacks on social media are enough to make one want to log off and not return for a long time. Happily, there are other options.
For starters, making you angry is the goal of most trolls, so try not to reveal that anger to the troll. If you do show how mad the mockery made you, it may simply encourage more of the same. Returning the insult will just bring you to the level of the troll in some ways, so revenge remarks just don’t fly. They can only make you look bad. (While there are exceptions to every rule, most of the time, just don’t go there.) Try these positive responses instead.
It’s easy to get offended and assume the worst once you’ve had to deal with one too many internet trolls. However, I’ve learned that it’s important to first listen to what’s being said and try to not make any assumptions. If it sounds like someone may be leaning towards mockery, you may not want to bother.
If the person may be simply trying to engage in a meaningful dialogue, you could try paraphrasing what they said to clarify their intent. If they respond well to this, it’s probably safe to continue, but otherwise cut your losses and move on to the next message.
Few things are more positive than confidence. To maintain that confidence, make sure you do your research before replying with supposed statistics or facts from another vegan social media account. Here’s why! One easy way to shut down haters is to spread the truth, yet spreading misinformation should be avoided whenever possible even if you think it may make veganism look better. It can do more harm than good when people do uncover the truth. You’ll ultimately help the cause with the truth even if it isn’t always what you’d prefer.
When presenting facts in a social media response, you don’t even have to engage on a personal level. Whether someone is unintentionally spreading misinformation or trying to spread sensational lies, you can reply with links to reputable sources that dispute the claim. Specialized search engines like scholar.google.com may provide you with more results that can shed light on some topics that regular search pages don’t include much information on.
For easy access to information on veganism, you may want to check out these pages:
Always do your due diligence and double check sources before spouting claims as facts, but reliable news sources and academic findings are great places to start.
People want to laugh and feel good when they log into social media, but far too few pages offer them the chance to do so. When you are inspired to respond to a troll in a humorous way, feel free to go for it as long as you don’t feel that you’re giving undeserved attention to someone who’s trying to undermine you or your cause.
You may find the humor in the absurdity of a false claim, the undeserved venom in a post, or any other aspect of the trolling tweet. You may also want to try responding with a self-deprecating post that exaggerates the bully’s intention or post infographics revealed with humor. Be daring because humorous tweets are often liked and shared.
Just be sure to always think twice before posting anything. If you feel like your witty response might be mean-spirited, it’s best to skip it. When it comes to social media, it’s always better to regret the things you don’t do than the mistakes you make.
If you have a page that’s devoted to veganism, you may encounter a lot of trolls over time. You may decide to just choose one uniform response to every rude or deliberately degrading online commenter you encounter. If you don’t want to ignore them altogether, a one-sentence, copy-and-paste response will suffice.
Along with that sentence, you may want to try rick-rolling, too. This practice originally referred to how people would send someone to the online video of “Never Gonna Give You Up” performed by Rick Astley when the receiver was expecting to see something else. You could send trolls the link to that video or even create your own video for comic relief.
I used to feel that I always had to defend my position, but the truth is that you don’t have to attend every argument you’re invited to have. It’s okay to just walk away from anything that is disrespectful or simply unwanted. It can be a positive thing to walk away from a troll and not feed the negative attention they’re trying to get for themselves or the cruelty they’re attempting to spew.
Finally, it’s important to be true to yourself, especially when it comes to standing up for yourself and standing your ground. There are many ways to advocate for a cause. Within activism, there is often more than one correct way of doing the right thing. Trust your good intentions and keep an open mind for constructive criticism. When you do that, you don’t need to worry about haters and trolls. When they do get under your skin, though, take the positive, high road every time you can.
Robin Raven is the author of Santa’s First Vegan Christmas. She has written for publications such as The Malibu Times, Alabama Baby & Child Magazine, the official website of Melissa Gilbert, and USAToday.com. She holds a BFA from the School of Visual Arts and is now furthering her education. Robin often has her nose in a book and her arms around a rescued animal. She’s a vegan foodie who blogs at RobinRaven.com and loves to connect with readers on social media. You can follow her @RobinRaven on Twitter.
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