Receiving online abuse is a difficult and often upsetting experience that is unique to this generation's love of technology and social media, so it can be very challenging to know exactly how to deal with abusers who use the Internet as a tool to needlessly hurt other people - otherwise known as 'trolls'. This sort of bullying is not uncommon, with dozens of celebrities including Cheryl, Tom Daley and even Ariana Grande among those to have spoken out about receiving hateful messages online. In honour of our #HelloToKindness campaign, we have spoken to experts on the topic for the best ways to handle this unwanted attention.
Scroll down for our best tips on how to deal with trolls
Speaking about this downside of being online, psychotherapist Susan Hepburn told HELLO! that "the rise of social media has given way to a new form of bullying whereby it is impossible to escape your tormentor, with them having access to you every time you go online... In many cases, the reason people troll is because they want attention, and the internet lowers the risk of being caught out because of anonymity and immersion online means that many social conventions such as respect or consideration for the feelings of others can be abandoned in cyberspace. The nature of the internet makes it easy to amplify abuse and hate and this requires complex technical, educational and support-based solutions."
Social media and marketing expert Tom Bourlet has experienced trolling first hand on his travel blog, Spaghetti Traveller, has previously spoken out about dealing with the worst of the Internet, and has offered HELLO! readers some top tips on not letting it get to you, and what to do if you are being cyberbullied:
- Report them. If they have used language or any form of deeply unacceptable posting, remember you can very easily report the account. If the post is considered to be unacceptable, their account will be removed within 48 hours.
- Don't reply to their comments. On Twitter, not many people will see their posts to you, but if you respond then a portion of your followers will also see their response along with your original tweet. As such, don't feed the trolls! Trolls will often say something extreme, to pull a reaction from people, and they win if they get a reaction.
- If you want to take a break from social media, take a break. They might repeatedly try to get a reaction, but if you’re signed off for a week or two or use an alternative account, you will often find they will give up and move on over time. This can help prevent you from focusing on the responses and allow you to take a mental break. Black Mirror star Will Poulter did the same thing recently, along with Ed Sheeran and Taylor Swift.
- Speak to people. Forget Social Media for a minute, speak to people around you about the subject and how it makes you feel, get it off your chest! The people around you might be able to offer advice, support or simply help you to mentally move on or handle the situation better. Don't try to keep it all bottled up.
- Don't obsess over their comments! It can be easily tempting to repeatedly read over the post and to keep getting yourself worked up over it. The quicker you can mentally move on, the better you will feel.
- Remember that a troll wants a victim and an audience. So don’t offer either, don’t accept yourself as the victim and don’t offer them an audience.
Make a stand. Say #HelloToKindness. Post your own kind message on Instagram today and tag @HelloMag.