Offering a different opinion doesn't always mean the person is trolling

19th June 2017. Reading Time: 8 minutes General. 1517 page views. 1 comments.

Are we so used to trolls on social media that we take any comment we don't agree with as trolling?

I am going to set up a common scenario which I am sure you will relate to. Someone posts up a piece of evidence. Maybe it is a photo or an evp capture. It is usually put up with a story of what happened at the time and ends with the line ‘What are you thoughts?’. You review the photo or the evp. Maybe the ‘orb’ that they think they have caught is merely a picture of the flash bouncing off some dust or the rod of light coming down from the light is a bit of lens flare. Perhaps the EVP they have put up (which almost always says headphones needed), you can’t hear anything there. So you tell them. It usually results in them getting upset. Sometimes people jump to their defence and call you a non believer or a hater. It can even end with you being blocked from a page or booted from the discussion group. Before you know it, you are sitting there thinking, WTF just happened?

It can be very difficult when you put your evidence out there. You have a personal attachment to it. You want everyone to see or hear what you do. Maybe for you, it was all the proof you needed – especially if you have a personal experience that happened at the same moment. To have someone come in and tell you that your capture is anything than what you think it is can be disappointing. When someone offers you an explanation, they are not necessarily being a hater or trolling you. In most cases, they are trying to offer you the rational explanation. I have seen in many cases, people have put up an EVP for example, and someone comments ‘I don’t hear anything’. They get upset and talk about how long they have spent reviewing the evp and there is no room for negative people in the group. They were not attacking anyone, they simply stated they could not hear the evp and the poster didn’t like they had a different opinion. I have stopped for the most part offering my opinion. I have studied photography and I know how a camera works and when I see things like lens flare and orbs, I used to try to tell people. I also did it in a very delicate in the way so that I didn’t come across like I was attacking them as I thought that maybe they would be more inclined to take the feedback on board if I was really nice about it. It still didn’t work. I have been blocked and booted from many groups. I have been called a hater or a non believer. I am not. I very much do believe, but I just don’t believe that the orb you caught is the real deal. How did we get to this point?

At the other end of the spectrum, people can also be assholes. They can put things in a way that comes across as if they are attacking you. Instead of saying ‘I can’t hear anything’ they might say ‘you don’t know what you are doing, there is nothing there you are wasting our time’. Yes this person is being an ass and could have put their point across in a nicer way. Then there are people that troll pages and love stirring the pot. I experience it all the time. The perfect example is a couple of months ago, I was promoting one of our National Trust events so I posted a link and the information in a discussion group. A paranormal discussion group. I was met with comments that I was stupid and obviously influenced by movies as this individual is surrounded by spirit all the time and idiots like me think that you need to goto an old building to see them and in fact no building is haunted but someone like myself who has not got the spiritual gift that he had wouldn’t understand. He went on and on and on and some of it is not worth repeating. What is the best way to deal with someone like this? I ignored it! It took every inch of me not to bite, but in the end, what was the point. What would I achieve? Some lovely lady who I have never met or spoken to from the discussion group jumped to my defence. They have been involved in a month long slinging match at one another now. Again I sort of think what is the point but I know that some people also can’t take comments lying down and have to respond. Each to their own but I don’t get involved in all that stuff.

I get a lot of emails from people that read the blog. Some of them are quite funny. I have had people email me to tell me they don’t like the colour of the font I use down to asking me to fix a spelling mistake they have pointed out. They aren’t trolling, they are trying to be helpful in their own way. Then there are the emails that I get which are pretty much hate mail. I have touched on a topic and for whatever reason, my difference of opinion has offended them. Instead of sending me an email or commenting on my Facebook posts with a reasonable response to give me their side of the story, they go for low blows. A recent one I received started calling me names and they called me stupid, arrogant, ignorant and that I was damaging the field with my information. Again I didn’t respond. Their mind was made up and when you go on the attack, they are already in the pounced position ready to fight back.

Has the above behaviour become so rampant on social media that we have forgotten how to take feedback? We are forever in the defensive position that when someone does point out something rational and actually has a point, do we automatically dismiss it because we feel like they are trolling us? I think when you combine this with our personal attachment to the evidence, you have your answer and it makes it really hard to accept any kind of comment that doesn’t agree with ours. So how do we fix this? There are always going to be trolls and there are always going to be people that are so set in their ways that they will not accept any sort of opinion other than their own. In these cases, I don’t think it is worth engaging at all if they comment on something you do. If you comment on a piece of evidence someone has presents and offer your feedback and they won’t even consider it, walk away. If someone is trolling your page or being an ass to you when you post something up, ignore it. Don’t bite.

The one thing we do need to do is learn to accept that not everyone shares our opinion. Just like you have the right to your opinion, someone else also has their own as well. I recently published an article about how I thought that paid online courses didn’t make you a paranormal investigator. I got a large amount of feedback on this one where I had people contacting me or commenting on the page that they didn’t necessarily agree and these are the reasons why. (a couple of hate emails in there too but it’s how it goes). There were some great points made and while I may not agree with them or they didn’t agree with me, they did open my eyes to another viewpoint. It wasn’t done in a way that was attacking anyone, it was an exchange of a difference of opinion. This is where we can all learn and it is one of the things I enjoy about our field. Of course we are not always going to agree on everything. We can take on the board the difference of opinion. It is up to us as individuals to accept this information. We don’t have to agree with it, but we have to accept there is a different perspective. You never know, a point made be made you didn’t think of and it might change part of your view. This is how you grow and evolve. This is part of the point of the blog. It starts these discussions and we can talk about these issues and offer our different viewpoints.

While there are trolls out there on the internet, if we don’t engage them, they don’t win. Sometimes someone is trying to make a point, but they are coming across as a bit of an ass. They might be making a point but they are on the attack when they express it. You are unlikely ever going to win with someone like that as their mind is made up before they begin. It is the other comments you need to look at. Yes you may have spent hours analysing evps and enhancing them, but if someone can’t hear it they can’t hear it. They are not attacking you by pointing this out. If you are putting up a piece of evidence for people to review, you have to expect them to break it down and debunk it. If you are not willing to open yourself to the possibility that what you have caught is not paranormal, then don’t put it up, because you won’t like what follows. We all have a part to play here. If we try to be respectful of each other and our opinions, we can have some great discussions. I have seen them happen. Before you hit the block and delete button, think about it first!

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  • Karin Hannah 5 years ago

    Hi, for years now I been an on-line activist, signing, sharing & commenting on various subjects like the environment, human rights, animal welfare & politics. And around election time I always share the posts of the Party I vote for & comment on actions of other poiticians. My politcal comments can be incisive, but never have I deliberately gone out of my way to be abusive, or incite. And yet two days ago when I tried to share email re human rights & animal welfare a Facebook notice pops up telling me I was blocked with only one other word - Troll. The Australian federal election is near & I had been doing my usual thing of enthusiastically sharing my Party's posts & making comments according to whatever pollie the discussion was about. Many of these recent comments have been Liked by many & agreed on. I've always gone thro' the same process pre-election time & never have I been blocked, nevermind being offensively been labeled a troll. I don't like the latter any more than anyone, like you I just ignore them. Anway, now I can't even get on with sharing my email shares, no matter what the subject. Or know how long this block will last. Frankly I think perhaps Facebook is slowly allowing the political curbing of our freedom of speech.