There is No Beating an Internet Troll

Image courtesy karengately.wordpress.com.
You know who you are.  Image courtesy karengately.wordpress.com.

Have you ever thought to yourself, “The best solution to an internet troll is a physical beating?” More than once, I’ve encountered trolls of a sufficiently brutish nature that I concluded the only possible solution was violence.  Oddly enough, a former professional MMA (mixed martial arts) fighter named Josh Neer recently tested that theory.  Here’s what went down, according to the aptly named MMA news outlet Bloody Elbow:

“The 5’9″ Neer, who has fought at Welterweight (170 pounds) for most of his career was seen in the video he briefly posted to YouTube on top of the 6’6″ 240 pound Martin landing elbows to Martin’s skull before teammates dragged him off the beaten man. Then Neer appeared to kick the downed Martin in the face although both he and his coach claimed he tripped.”

The video, which you can see at the link below, shows 14 seconds of a vicious beating.  The reason? Martin had been trolling Neer on social media, which Neer initially ignored, but under sustained verbal assault he eventually relented and agreed for Martin to come in and spar.  He posted his rationale for the invitation, along with a sample of Martin’s messaging:

neer troll

Despite the video, Martin claims he was sucker-punched and that the full video would show a much closer encounter.  He added, “If I fought Neer I would take him to decision because he can’t score nor choke me out or take me down when I’m in my guard!”  (Note that the size difference between the two fighters makes such declarations less brave than it sounds.)

Neer got what many of us wanted: he got to beat up the troll.  Let’s be clear about what a troll is.  This definition is culled from the Psychology Today piece linked below:

“An Internet troll is someone who comes into a discussion and posts comments designed to upset or disrupt the conversation. Often, in fact, it seems like there is no real purpose behind their comments except to upset everyone else involved. Trolls will lie, exaggerate, and offend to get a response. “

Martin got his response, in the form of a serious beatdown. But did it stop the troll, did it cause a breakthrough or a change? No.  This is because trolls are probably psychologically resistant to insight.  A recent study likened internet trolls to “prototypical everyday sadists.”  It goes on to elaborate:

“Both trolls and sadists feel sadistic glee at the distress of others. Sadists just want to have fun … and the Internet is their playground!”

There is no negotiating with a sadist, whether through intellectual convincing or physical violence.  Josh Neer learned the hard way that one cannot beat them into submission (even if you elbow them repeatedly in the face).  As we learned from the classic early Broderick movie War Games, the only way to win with trolls is to refuse to play the game.   You cannot beat them, but you can refuse to join them.

Thus, the Psychology Today blog concludes,

The next time you encounter a troll online, remember:

  1. These trolls are some truly difficult people.

  2. It is your suffering that brings them pleasure, so the best thing you can do is ignore them. 

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3 thoughts on “There is No Beating an Internet Troll”

  1. yep. I remember dealing with some playground bullies as a kid (of the verbal, making fun variety). My dad said, “Ignore them, don’t let it bother you, and they’ll stop. If you react, they’ll keep doing it.” Same exact principle.

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