Don’t Feed the Trolls!

Many of us have heard of Trolls in fairy tales, but when they show up on your social media sites, they become a real nightmare. They are also known as modern-day Cyber-bullies. There is only one way to get rid of them. Starve them. Don’t feed the Trolls.

What is a social media Troll and how do you know if you have attracted one?

In fairy tales like Three Billy Goats Gruff, a Troll living beneath a bridge used extortion, threats, and bullying to try to eat all three of the goats. But it was positive wisdom, not negative threats that prevailed. This was a Norwegian fairytale first published between 1841 and 1844, and in Norse mythology and Scandinavian folklore  a troll is described as a class of beings that “dwell in isolated rocks, mountains, or caves, live together in small family units, and are rarely helpful to human beings.”

The Nors also called Trolls auðsug jǫtuns, which translated means “giant-wealth-suckers.”

Mythical Trolls were known to try to suck the success right out of their victims. This behavior continues today with modern-day social media and internet Trolls. In mythology Trolls also displayed a habit of “bergtagning” (kidnapping’; literally) and overrunning a farm or estate. Your internet success is the today’s equivalent to a farm or estate and that success is a Troll’s dinner.

Now we know where modern-day trolls got their name and how they are still living up to it.

In Scandinavian folklore, Trolls become defined as a particular type of being. There was the Skogtroll who was a forest dweller, and the bjergtrolde which were mountain-trolls. All Trolls are solitary creatures who live in dark, dank places and do not like the sun or daylight because according to  Folklore, Trolls turn to stone upon contact with sunlight.

Here is a list of the 5 most prevalent modern-day Trolls and signs that they are on your site.

Bully Troll –calls people names and will pick on everyone and anyone, to get a negative emotional response from them. Sign –name-calling and profanity.
Debate Troll – loves a good argument, turns facts into fiction and they believe they are always right, and everyone else is wrong. Sign – they leave long threads or arguments with other commenters in community comment sections.
Professor Troll – uses a commenter’s sentence structure, spelling, grammar mistakes and “rules and regulations” as an excuse to insult them. Sign –belittling commenting with the correction behind an asterisk symbol.
Victim Troll –turns any content, but especially humorous ones, into an argument by playing the victim. Sign –online crying-gags and people “walking or commenting on eggshells” around them.
Kidnap/Hijack (“bergtagning”) Troll– posts something completely off-topic to hijack the conversation and kidnap the commenters to some other irrelevant thing that was posted by the Troll. Sign –a sudden shift in an active, established discussion thread.

Where do modern-day online Trolls live and forage for food?  

Today Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+ is the dank mountain cave of many a Troll, and they want to overrun the social media estate you have built or you online-farm displaying the fruits of your labor and suck the success right out of it. There are also Trolls in office buildings and workplaces. Those Trolls are more easily recognizable because they are two-faced.

Trolls no longer try to take over farms and estates. They kidnap and hijack pages and forums.

Rather than having forest or mountain Trolls we now have social media and internet Trolls. If you are on social media long enough, you will probably get a Troll or two.

Most modern-day Trolls stalk social media pages, and internet radio shows because they love the limelight the shows offer them with a ready-made audience. 

Other Trolls prefer to live in online-forums. And, the more social media sites you have, the higher your chances are of attracting multiple types of Trolls.

How do you know if you encountered a Troll? How do you recognize them from inquisitive followers?

Trolls are tricky. Anonymous online Trolls are people who, per the Urban Dictionary, “purposely and deliberately start an argument in a manner which attacks others on a forum without in any way listening to the arguments proposed by his peers.” Their main purpose is usually self-amusement that is hiding behind self-rightness. A secondary purpose may be to suck the success out of the forum and then take it over. To do this, they shift the positivity and growth in the group to negativity and destruction. You may see or feel it as it is happening when page followers begin to drop, and the page’s numbers decline or participation drops off, and the page seems “empty.” You may be left wondering, “Why this is happening and what can I do to make a change?”

Now that you know how to spot a Troll what can you do to get rid of a Troll? Here are 5 suggestions:

? Keep your site positive while you deal with your Troll. Remember, Trolls are attracted to the light but cannot live in the light. The positive light will turn them to stone.
? Monitor your live internet and radio shows before you bring someone into the audience.
? Don’t be tricked. Find and learn how to use your BLOCK button. Trolls are tricky and will try to turn the tables on you making you think they were “just helping you.” If you do not feel helped it is because you were not helped.
? Do not engage. The argument is their food. Like most bullies, they are masters at word manipulation and thrive from arguments.
? Do be the light that turns them to stone. Ignore them, and you starve them. Engage them, and you feed them.

If the suggestions above do not work – use banning/blocking or report them to authorities, or close off comment sections entirely from a blog post, video page or topic thread. In all the mythological stories the Trolls were defeated by brains. They were outsmarted by average people and in one case, a tiny but clever goat.

Be smart. Don’t feed the Trolls!

Article Research:

Three Billy Goats Gruff

The Trolls In Our Midst: What Fairytales Can Tell Us About ..,

10 Types of Internet Trolls You’ll Meet Online


Kat O'Keefe-Kanavos
Kat O'Keefe-Kanavos
Kathleen (Kat) O’Keefe-Kanavos is the award-winning author of Surviving Cancerland, and co-author of Dreams That Can Save Your Life. She’s a three-time cancer survivor, and co-publisher/editor of WEBE Books Publishing. Her dreams diagnosed her illness as seen on Dr. Oz, Doctors, NBC News, American Express Open, in Newspapers and magazines. She’s a Contributor to Chicken Soup for the Soul, TV/Radio Host/Producer- Dreaming Healing on DV7Radio/TV Network, Wicked Housewives On Cape Cod™, Kat Kanavos Show, Internationally Syndicated Columnist in BIZCATALYST 360°, Dream Columnist in Positive Tribe Magazine, and Desert Health Magazine, Keynote Speaker, Performance Coach who taught Special Ed & Psychology @USF, and Lecturer who promotes patient advocacy and Spiritual guidance. She is co-author to the inspiring books; Chaos to Clarity: Sacred Stories of Transformational Change and Crappy to Happy: Sacred Stories of Transformational Joy

SOLD OUT! JOIN OUR WAITING LIST! It's not a virtual event. It's not a conference. It's not a seminar, a meeting, or a symposium. It's not about attracting a big crowd. It's not about making a profit, but rather about making a real difference. LEARN MORE HERE



  1. Wow! I surely learned something new today….lol and I loved how this was entertaining, educative and helpful at the same time! Now I will easily know who are the trolls on our group and on SM sites and I also know not to feed them. Thank you!

  2. Feel so blessed Trolls are rare foe me- think the fact I wrote such a positive blog and posts across all my social media is one reason. i also choose not to engage in politics or religion on FB etc , even if I hold strong views. :) Thanks great discussion

  3. These unhappy people who enjoy pitting people against each other and putting down others have always existed, but social media now gives them a platform.

    Your breakdown of how to identify them and the methods they use are very helpful, Kathleen. Thank you for another enlightening post.

  4. Oh my goodness, I just got an education and a half right here.

    I’d heard about Internet trolls but, apart from one brief time years ago on Twitter, have never been subject to them. In hindsight, I got rid of that Twitter troll because I didn’t take the bait. She went on to scavenge for others who would respond with the desired negative fervor, and that’s how they feed on us. (I learned that much from some offline experiences with people who wanted to feed on getting a negative reaction from me. Just don’t feed them!)

    Thank you for this excellent article. I’m going to send the link to an online friend who has been subjected to nasty comments now that he’s gaining some real visibility. It put him into the doldrums, but he needs to know that it’s just a pattern created by people who want to manipulate—it’s NOT personal to him, only to his growing popularity.

    • Milli, I’m so glad you naturally took care of your troll. Tell your friend to pat himself on the back for attracting a troll. It means he is doing something right. I learned as much from your comment as I did with all the article research. Thanks a million.