Hi friends! I’ve just returned from BlogHer, and let me tell you – it was amazing. Aside from the obvious excitement of seeing blogging friends become In Real Life friends, there were also the inspiring keynote speakers, the VOTY readers, the fashion show, the incredible panels … Queen Latifah! How could it have been anything but fabulous?
Not surprisingly, however, there was the occasional shadow thrown over the experience – a hovering aura as unwelcome as that ill-timed stomach flu where you find yourself giving your toddler a full bath in the public restroom sink without a set of clothes to change into. I’m talking about the inevitable presence of negative comments and tweets about everything that was not according to somebody’s standard or taste.
You know what I’m talking about right? People who miss all the fun and inspiration and can only see what’s wrong?
We, in the blogging world, affectionately refer to them as
If you’ve not been hurt by a troll before, you are either a non risk-taker, naturally adorable, very lucky, or . . . it’s just possible you might be a troll yourself. If you are unsure where you stand, let me help you by presenting a few questions to mull over.
a) Do you have low tolerance for idiots? And does that definition include about 95% of the population?
b) Are you unable to see all the good and beauty in a person or event because of the one glaringly obvious thing that doesn’t live up to your standard of perfection?
c) Are you unable to resist showing people the error of their ways – the more sarcastically worded your correction is, the more satisfaction you feel?
d) Do you have high expectations for your own intelligence, appearance and discipline so that you are shocked by others’ lack of intelligence, appearance and discipline?
If you have answered “yes” to one of these things, you might be a troll. If you have answered “yes” to all four, you most certainly are.
But I have good news for you. I believe that trollicism is a disease and that it’s possible to recover from it. I am not here to judge you – I am here to help. And in order to do so, I have borrowed from the wisdom of the 12-step recovery program to assist those of you suffering from trollicism.
Step 1. We admit we are powerless over negativity, attention-seeking, and general troll behavior – that our lives have become unmanageable. This step is pretty straightforward because you just have to . . .
Wait. You don’t think you have a problem? You think that everyone else has the problem and is just waiting for you to arrive on the scene and set them straight? Well, if that’s the case you might not have hit rock bottom yet. You might need to suffer a little longer in your illness until no one but your mother wants to have anything to do with you. And even she’s on the fence.
But let’s say that you are able to admit you are a troll. That brings us to Step 2.
Step 2. We come to believe that a Power greater than ourselves can restore us to sanity. Albert Einstein’s definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. If you are continually leaving mean-spirited comments or tweets and expecting that people will want to spend increasing time on your blog, all while growing in admiration of your wit and wisdom, you are insane. It is time to be restored.
Step 3. Make a decision to turn our lives over to the care of God as we understand Him. Now if you worship the god of page views and stats, you might need to find a different god. Page views and stats are equivalent to your man taking you to an expensive restaurant that you have to pay for, and then ditching you immediately after sex. That’s not someone you want to turn your will and life over to the care of.
The actual God is . . . well – God is different than that. You can count on him. And when you finally understand that you don’t have your life together at all – that you do need him – you’ll be more gracious towards the rest of us who need him too.
Step 4. Make a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves. It takes more courage to ruthlessly call yourself to a higher moral standard than it does to ruthlessly call other people to your standard. That’s enough said about that.
Step 5. Admit to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs. The funny thing is . . . God already knows the exact nature of your wrongs. Other people do too (it has gotten pretty obvious by this point).
The only one who needs to be clued in is you. This is the hardest thing you’ll have to do, but it’s also necessary for recovery. So good luck with that.
Step 6. Be entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character. If you can get through Step 5, you should be able to breeze right through this one. Once you see what you look like as a troll, you won’t be able to apply for a new look fast enough.
Step 7. Humbly ask Him to remove our shortcomings. Yes, you need to be willing to have a personality makeover, but eventually you also need to do it. You need to walk up to that celestial makeup counter and tell them you are having an inner beauty 911. Trust me – before the words even leave your mouth, you will quickly be ushered to a cushy chair, surrounded by a halo of soft lighting.
Step 8. Make a list of all persons we’ve harmed, and become willing to make amends to them all. Now is a good time to apply that exacting nature of yours and not leave anyone out. If you truly want to be perfect, you can even go back to the early days – the initial descent from the decency wagon – where you unleashed your venom anonymously. Be willing to make amends to them too, even if it means outing yourself.
Step 9. Make direct amends wherever possible, except when to do so would injure others. If you’ve been a troll for so long you’re at a loss for how to be respectful and kind, here are some ideas. You can start by commenting supportively on every post you read, or leave glowing tweets and Facebook shares. You can send chocolates! People will receive your penance graciously. (Unless they, too, struggle with trollicism. We’ll address that in Step 12).
Step 10. Continue to take personal inventory, and when we are wrong, promptly admit it. Once you admit it’s possible for you to be wrong the first time, it truly does get easier a second time, a third time, etc. Just keep a continual check on those trollist impulses.
Step 11. Seek to improve our conscious contact with God as we understand Him, praying for the knowledge of His will and the power to carry it out. By the time you get to Step 11, you’re starting to realize that it’s not enough to live your life just to please yourself. You understand you live in a community! With people! Congratulations - you’re now ready to graduate from kindergarten.
Step 12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we try to carry this message to fellow trolls and to practice these principles in all our affairs. Once you’ve seen how unsavory trollicism really is, you’ll never want to be like that again. You will do everything in your power to help fellow trolls see the light.
Believe me – as someone living a different type of recovery – it works if you work it. You will find your sweet spot, and you’re not gonna want to go back.
One day, you, too, will be able to bow your head chastely – in harmony with the blogging community – and repeat the serenity prayer with full conviction: “Lord, help me to accept the comments I cannot leave without being vicious, snarky or condescending; give me the courage to change my trollish nature for something more beautiful and decent . . .
and bless me with the wisdom to know when to shut down all social media and just walk away.”