• Rowan Evans

The impact of social trolls and how to deal with them.

Updated: Dec 10, 2019

Bullying and negativity are part of everyday life, but last week such behaviour was thrust in to the media spotlight after some very unexpected online actions by one of the UK's top influencers.

With this in mind, we asked freelance social media consultant and mental health advocate, Louisa Rose to share her thoughts on the situation, and how to navigate negativity on social platforms.

Last week a well-known social media influencer within a certain niche market was suggested to have been trolling fellow influencers (some of whom were in fact her friends in real life) on a platform called Tattle. She has since admitted to the accusation and apologised to those affected but it has shone a spotlight on the very real problem of trolling.Trolls purposely behave in an unsavoury and hateful way to get a rise out of users. There is often a reason for theirbehaviour but its not always obvious. Either way, the effect that trolling has on users’ mental health is great and something that the Internet community is taking incredibly seriously. There are now a number of ways to manage trolls on your social media accountsincluding reporting comments, blocking users and reporting abuse of the platforms’ terms of use. 

If you’ve been the subject of trolling, know that you are not alone and that the views of the troll are not the view of your other followers. It’s easier said than done and it can take a toll on your mental health without a doubt. Here’swhat to do if you find yourself in this situation:

Don’t engage

Easier said than done I know but remembering that the hateful behaviour stems from the trolls’ insecurities and not yours is helpful. Talk to someone to let them know that you are receiving trolling comments so that you have support, which will also empower you to resist engaging with the troll. 

Screenshot the proof

Arm yourself with evidence (in case you want to delete the comments) because depending on the nature of the trolling behaviour, you might want to take legal action.

Report Abuse

Delete and report the comment and report the userto the platform. On each social media platform there is usually a button next to the comments section where you can opt to delete a comment and/or report comment and/or block the user. 

Check your privacy settings

Depending on the nature of your account you may want to relook at your privacy settings. For brands, it’s not as easy as making your account private but for an individualwho has been the recipientof trolling, switching to private will ensure that only users who they have approved will have visibility of their account. 

Social media receives bad street cred sometimes, not least for its impact on mental health (trolling, low self esteem, addictive behaviour, fake news...the list goes on) However, if you can navigate your way through the negatives, consciously consume healthy content and limit the time you spend on the apps, you can easily find yourself making new friends, feeling a sense of community and gaining knowledge in whatever interests you may have (from climate change to floral wreath making).

Here are my top tips for making sure that you’re engaging with social media in a way that protects your mental health:

1. Follow accounts that make you feel good.

Doesthe content you’re seeing make you feel good about yourself or do you find yourself in a state of constant comparison? If it's the latter: unfollowand seek out new accounts that provide content that you find to be healthy and interesting. 

2. Set yourself a social media curfew. 

Be mindful of the amount of time you spend on the apps. Some have in-app settings that monitor your daily app usage and can send you notifications when you’ve hit a predetermined limit. 

3. Don't get lost in a social media rabbit hole. 

Acknowledgethat the rabbit hole existsand notice when you’re 64 weeks deep into a users’ feed. 

4. It’s not all real. 

Take the content you see with a pinch of salt. Typically it’s a heavily edited, distorted version of real life. 

About the author

Louisa Rose is a freelance social media consultant and mental health advocate working with clients including Maggie & Rose, Eile, Hope Virgo, Mimi’s Bowl, Susan Caplan, Colefax& Fowler among others. 

After over 20 years of lived personal experience of mental ill health including depression and anxiety that culminated in an attempt to take her own life in 2011, Louisa began her journey to mental health maintenance.

Now married with two children, Louisa hosts mental health events called #UOKHUN and speaks about topics including maternal mental health, the impact of social media on mental health and her own personal battle with depression and anxiety. 

Follow on instagram@rosebuds_and_us