We’ve all read controversial things, and then scrolled down to the comments only to find ourselves amazed at the lack of requirements for commenters. We’ve all jokingly wondered if there should be a law regulating the use of the internet by “trolls” who’ve nothing better to do with their time than sit around and pick apart writers and their work. It would be great if trolls were required to have “internet licenses” to operate. But alas, they are not.
Recently, one of our writers found herself on the business end of an “internet troll” who went so far out of the way to contact the writer that the writer ended up being the recipient of a flood of emotional messages blasting her for being the sole cause of discourse between the commenter and the commenter’s adult child. (It should be noted that the writer didn’t actually write anything that pertained to the child or to the commenter, but she was guilty by association- she personally knew an in-law of the commenter through her professional work). After being repeatedly asked not to contact the writer again, the commenter persisted with personal messages, crossing the line between internet troll and stalker.
This situation is not unique, and as writers, we will all face a similar situation sooner or later. Some of us, sadly, may even have been on the troll side of this scenario. So how do we as writers, who are also readers, deal with it?
We practice “constructive commenting.”