Hayley Matthews: I feel sad for trolls and their need to be cruel

Last week I talked about my mum. Very few reading this will know the details surrounding the traumatic, tearful and toxic relationship that I've had with my mum. It's been painful but I'm absolutely fine with it.

Friday, 16th March 2018, 6:00 am
Online trolls try to goad you into responding, don't give in!

I’m quite happy to share my experiences with those who might benefit from advice on managing a difficult relationship with a parent because, seriously, I’ve had a lot of counselling over the years and knowledge is power. Knowing how to heal yourself and protect yourself from a damaging relationship is key to moving on and making yourself a stronger person. I’m honestly good with my “mum situation” and never felt stronger.

However, what does make me sad, is realising that people saw a personal situation as an opportunity to troll me online and try to tear me down. This won’t happen to me because I take no notice of the useless drivel that spouts from the fingers of online trolling. I’m sure if the trolling community were so enlightening with their advice they’d be writing for publications too, and they’re not.

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Hayley Matthews: I have an unhappy mum and it's heartbreaking

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I get people asking me from time to time, “how do you deal with online trolls?” My response is always, “I don’t read them.” I see online trolls as that manky wee dark rim of bad stuff, hiding underneath the toilet rim. You’ll find it if you go looking for it, and it’s never pleasant when you do, so why would you bother? We all know it’s there, but you don’t have to inspect it.

I’m old enough and ugly enough to know not to take any online comments seriously, but what does concern me is how we protect our children and youngsters from these evil rabble-rousing keyboard warriors?

For those who get a kick out of trolling, shame on you. I hope you never have the misfortune of some witless troll trying to goad you into responding to their online taunts. It’s a pointless, time-wasting effort. I do feel genuinely sorry for these people. Their comments are like a red flashing light, alerting us to their complete lack of self-esteem which they desperately try to lift by bringing others down. It’s heart-breaking when you read between the lines. The deeper issue is the sad state of reality that we now live in a world where people feel so bad about themselves that to make it better for them, they seek to tear down their fellow humans. It’s a situation that can be damaging if you don’t see it for what it really is.

So, if you ever find yourself a target of the keyboard warriors, I suggest you think about that manky wee rim round the toilet bowl and get some real perspective on these comments asap.

Or, if you’d rather a different association with trolls, start playing Justin Timberlake’s “Can’t Stop the Feeling” in your head (the Trolls movie theme tune) and imagine these funny little creatures with pink sticky-up hair, who don’t know you from Adam, giving you feedback on your life decisions. No, you probably wouldn’t listen to them either, would you? And that’s exactly why you shouldn’t listen to any kind of troll.

Realise that these are just words, and words can’t physically hurt anyone, despite the worst intentions of the “pejorative poet”.

People say “it’s a cruel world we live in”, but it is the people that make it cruel. So here’s to being nice, go on, you know you can do it!