Anyone who has spent more than 5 minutes on the internet knows it isn’t always a pleasant place. Sure, the internet allows you to connect with fans of your favorite obscure band or learn about absolutely anything at 3 a.m. – but remaining anonymous on social media empowers people, sometimes driving them to say things they wouldn’t usually say.
In other words, social media is frequently used by trolls who have nothing better to do but harass individuals for their sadistic amusement.
If you’re very new to the internet, you could think, “Sure, people troll online – but they only troll people who deserve it.” False. No target is too pristine for a troll on the prowl. Even beloved actor and Parkinson’s campaigner Michael J. Fox admits to suffering extensive trolling during a recent appearance on The Graham Norton Show.
Even though Michael J. Fox’s son and daughter frequently assist him in managing his numerous social media accounts, Fox takes the time to read comments and answer his followers. Like any famous figure with a social media presence, Fox encounters trolls. In general, he tries to ignore them.
Feeding the trolls strengthens them. Therefore, the best strategy is to ignore them entirely. However, there is one subject on which Fox is adamant. Given the muck that is the internet, we shouldn’t be surprised if someone makes a snide comment about Parkinson’s on Twitter.
In the interview, Fox says he “wanted to answer this guy in some way.”
But how do you respond to a troll without adding fuel to their fire? Fortunately for Fox, his son Sam is an expert in troll management. When dealing with an internet jerk, less is more. Fox’s kid advised that Fox say “SMH,” though he didn’t know what that meant then.
The universal symbol of disappointment is SMH, or shaking my head. It’s an acknowledgment, but it says, “Buddy, that was so painfully stupid that I don’t even know how stupid it was.” It’s an invitation to reconsider your life choices, which is precisely what this troll did.
Rather than doubling down, the troll abandoned his act and stepped forward. According to Fox, the reformed troll responded, “This is the funniest thing I’ve ever read in my life; you’re the king of the internet; I apologize for anything I said to you, blah, blah, blah.”
Let this serve as a warning to everyone who comes across a troll in the wild. Don’t lower yourself to their level, but if you must answer, use the classic “SMH.”