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Have you ever been horribly insulted on a forum or on YouTube? Have you ever had someone you don’t know from Adam tell you to kill yourself or say they hope you contract cancer and lose a leg? If not then you, my friend, have either never posted anything online or are just incredibly lucky. However, if you have suffered this fate then you’ve unfortunately been struck by the curse of one of the internet’s most nefarious and diabolical creatures, the online troll.

An online troll is a normal everyday human being with a dark secret that he hides from the world at all costs. He is a sad, depressed, repressed, angry, vengeful and bitter creature who is filled to the brim with self loathing and regret. An online troll has many things to accomplish in his life but for reasons that are known only to him have yet to come to fruition. The fact that his actual life is so far removed from everything he so badly desires oozes into his soul like a venomous puss that gnarls, twists and poisons his mind until eventually an evil split personality is formed.

The troll becomes a two faced madman, a real life modern day Dr Jeckel and Mr Hyde. In his normal life, he’s a nice, kind and friendly person. A loving father or son and a true paragon of civil virtue who donates to Greenpeace. But when he sits in front of an internet connected laptop and feel his sweaty fingers clack against a plastic keyboard a sudden yet fantastic transformation occurs. Buoyed by the confidence that comes from operating within the vast anonymity of the internet and no longer needing to feel accountable for his actions, he feels free to lash out at anybody he sees as being different and hence ‘deserving of retribution’.

If a pretty girl starts a blog in which she posts photos of herself in revealing outfits, he attacks the poor thing with all the force he can muster. How dare she draw attention to the fact that she’s hot when the troll and others like him are either ugly, average, lacking the confidence and freedom to do the same or worse, a man who knows he could never get her?! How dare she celebrate something that she’s proud of and shine a light on the troll’s limitations?!

If a successful man starts a blog in which he tells the world about his accomplishments and provides advice for others to do the same, the troll knows he doesn’t have the testicles to knuckle down and make things happen. This makes him feel worthless, shit and lower than slugs on the great food chain of life. So what does he do? He tears him to pieces!

‘Stupid fucking idiot! Of course he can be successful, he’s lucky! He was born at the right place, at the right time and with the perfect set of advantages! Of course life is great for him! Life would be great for anyone who was born with a silver spoon in their mouth! But life isn’t supposed to be great and it isn’t supposed to be fun! it’s meant to be a tough, gruelling chore! Why doesn’t he get himself a real job like the rest of us?! You work a 9-5 Monday to Friday, get drunk on the weekends and save for retirement when you’re 70! That’s life! That’s the way this shit works!

But of course the actions of the internet troll are not just limited to those he inherently perceives as better than himself. No, the internet troll will also attack the less fortunate with the same zeal and passion he reserves for his superiors. Heaven forbid that a less than average looking woman with a passion for gardening starts a YouTube vlog about said topic. And woe betide a man with a speech impediment who starts a blog to tell the world about his experiences in the hopes of meeting like-minded souls. In both of these cases and in thousands more, the troll; who badly needs to feel better than somebody else to excuse his miserable and wasted life, will use every nasty trick in the book to tear these poor people several new bloody assholes.

But do not despair, dear reader, for the internet troll is far from invincible and is in truth, only as powerful as you allow him or her to become. If you’re ever unfortunate enough to find yourself being trolled online, the important thing is to remember that what sounds like the most vicious attack you’ve received since birth is actually a cry for help from a downtrodden soul who’s probably closer to suicide than they’d openly like to admit. No matter how tempting it might seem or how justified you may be, I beseech thee to not attack the troll as this will only feed their bloodlust and lock you into a meaningless battle of wits with a hapless moron.

Instead, I want you to smile at the troll both inwardly and outwardly before thanking them profusely for taking the time out of their ‘busy lives’ to interact with you and provide feedback on your endeavours. This will confuse, flummox and bamboozle the troll and believe you me, they won’t know how to respond. The troll will have been expecting the tears of a broken soul or the venomous insults of a vengeful spirit but will instead be met with love and gratitude and not only will this stop them in their tracks but they’ll be completely disarmed to boot. It also has the added bonus of making them look like utter dickheads for continuing to attack somebody who’s actually being nice to them!

So in closing let me say that trolls are a cancer, dear reader. They’re a seeping poison that must be eradicated before they envelop the entire planet in hate-filled darkness. However; that eradication cannot and must not come through anger because all anger does is bolster existing trolls and create new ones. So instead be nice to the troll, be kind to the troll. Show the troll that as much as they hate you and as much as they despise themselves, you love you and what’s more, you think they’re awesome. They’ll come round pretty quickly and will soon stop being such a dick. That’s how you deal with an online troll.