Smile TV has a simple mission: make people smile! We strive to appeal to a wide audience without controversy or offense, and yet, in this age of comment section soapboxes, we still get trolls.
A troll, by modern understanding, is an individual who posts comments on websites with the sole intention of riling other commenters. Trolls are basically the opposite of Smile TV, and as the social media manager, it’s my responsibility to meet them head-on, diffuse the attack, and make sure that, by the bottom of the comment section, everyone is still smiling.
The easiest way to tackle trolls would be to delete everything that isn’t 100% positive, but let’s be honest here. Troll comments might not make people smile, but neither does intense censorship. Sometimes a little opposition is crucial to understand your own point of view. It’s the whole yin and yang approach.
A comment can be easily deleted if it’s irrelevant to the video or if it’s a personal attack on either the video’s subject or another commenter. But if the person asks a question, no matter how rhetorical or controversial, a question is a question and an opportunity to educate.
For instance, last week, we received a comment on our video about Tim Harris, the extraordinary restaurant owner with Down Syndrome: “i know this sounds terrible, but did anyone else cringe when he started talking about having a family, is that even legal?”
Several people lashed out at this fellow with personal attacks, and I had to delete them. But again, a question is a question and an opportunity to educate. I am embarrassed to admit that I did not know the answer off-hand, since I had never heard of someone with Down Syndrome starting a family.
I looked it up (education isn’t a one-way road). According to the National Down Syndrome Society website, while low fertility is common in people with Down Syndrome, it’s possible, and certainly legal, for someone with Down Syndrome to have a family.
I posted that response, and you know what? That same commenter, who could have easily been dismissed and deleted for being a troll, gave the response a Thumbs Up and had nothing more to say.
It’s easy to go right for the jugular on online comment boards, but in the greater scheme of things, how many questions are left unanswered because emotions get in the way? The next time someone asks a dubious question on your social media page, answer it, educate, and at the very least, you will have made an effort toward making the world a more informed and secure place.