Reviews, Views and Adventures in Content Creation

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Trolling: What's in the comments?

In my new book, Own the Scrawny, thirteen year-old Alexander becomes the target of online trolls after a brief, embarrassing moment in school becomes a viral video.

Suddenly, millions can view his humiliation, and thousands are posting their ridicule, Some say he's weird, odd, or a loser; others are more threatening, and wonder if he can possibly be real.  With so many people saying such horrible things, Alexander's sure of just one thing: he’s got to prove them wrong.

Wikipedia describes a troll as “a person who sows discord on the Internet by starting arguments or upsetting people, by posting inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community.” While cyber-bullying has come to represent the extension of traditional bullying into every aspect of a victim’s life, trolls can be anyone and anywhere.

Own the Scrawny is all about perspective. Alexander faces adversity just as he did in My Life at the Bottom of the Food Chain - with absolute panic. He becomes obsessed with the opinions of strangers, and tries desperately to transform himself to please people he doesn’t know. He forgets, at first, that the people closest to him—friends and family—accept him as-is. Trolls aren’t worth a second thought.

Twelve year old YouTuber DrewDudeTv (for privacy reasons, we won’t use his real name), who portrays Alexander on the cover of Own the Scrawny, shares that “I’ve had a couple of people tell me to go kill myself” simply for making funny videos, and repeatedly taunting him by asking, “Why haven’t you killed yourself yet?”  Thankfully, Drew has strong family support, tech savvy parents, and older brothers with YouTube experience, so he knows not to believe the haters. Some kids don't have that advantage.

DrewDudeTV’s sixteen year old brother, known on YouTube as Fur, has faced his own trolls, and found “if you actually go to their channel, you see that they literally just copy and paste that same exact comment on a hundred different videos. They don’t even watch your video, so you can’t even take it personally. These people just generically go around spreading hate, that’s just what they do.”

In my next blog, we'll look at some of the popular approaches to dealing with Trolls. In the meantime, you might want to check out my "What's Trolling?" board on Pinterest:

Follow Rich Samuels's board What's Trolling? on Pinterest.

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