Don’t Feed The Trolls

If you want to understand some of the differences between how my son and I approach the world all you need to do is watch us play Call Of Duty.

He is cautious, strategic and methodical and prefers to operate as a sniper.

Sometimes I like being a sniper but most of the time I prefer to be the man who goes in guns blazing and uses shock and awe to overwhelm his enemies.

Lest you think it is how I approach life let me remind you that most of the time I take a different approach in real world situations.

Video games allow for endless lives and ample opportunities to test and correct our approach and any mistakes that may come along with it.

That is why I am usually more circumspect in my approach to real world situations.

Still there are definitely moments where the shock and awe approach comes out or when I will bend the rules to move the needle a bit.


Don’t Feed The Trolls

Those who spend time online in discussions with others learn the best approach to enjoying your time there is to not feed the trolls.

Don’t engage with people whose sole purpose is to fight and enrage you because it is a waste of time.

Most days I follow this rule pretty stringently because there is little to no upside to going down the rabbit hole.

A short while ago I broke my rule and ignored my own advice and engaged in some conversation with some trolls who really didn’t deserve my time.

Some of them suggested my skin might be used to adorn light fixtures and expressed their distaste for my background.

They tried hard to rattle my cage and to make me angry and or afraid.

It wasn’t going to happen.

Made me sad to see some of it and to wonder how anyone could really believe it but it also irked me.

That is why I pushed back hard.

I wanted them to remember my people have seen this happen more than a few times and it has always ended badly for the others.

It would be much smarter and better for everyone if we could just go along and get along, but some people can’t do that.

So my words weren’t meant to incite but to hopefully educate. Ideally they would encourage people to rethink their positions and come to a kinder, gentler position.

And if not that to understand that the days of just taking it are long gone.

Maybe it was a waste of energy feeding the trolls.

Maybe it did nothing, but I hope something positive came out of it.


Overall life is pretty damn good right now but there are a few needles pricking my skin and some things that require attending to.

It is the downside of being a responsible adult because you know that sometimes doing what is required is going to be hard and painful.

But you do it because it has to be done and it would be wrong not to attend to it.

If I was to think out loud I might even suggest that I fed the trolls because I wanted to vent my frustration out on someone who deserved it.

Do I feel better? Did it improve things?

Yes and no.

It didn’t pull the thorn out of my side but for a moment I forgot about it and the respite was nice.

Think Before You Act

If I were a betting man I’d say almost every child has heard that phrase at least once.

I know mine definitely have just as I did from my folks.

In theory if you think before you act you are less likely to do something foolish or at least better prepared to deal with the consequences.

I don’t expect my children will find out that I did as I have said not to. Unless I tell them about my having fed the trolls it will probably go unseen and that is ok with me.

But if it didn’t, well I would tell them I was prepared to deal with the consequences and stress that it was a mistake.

We are all fallible and sometimes we do foolish things but the real question is whether we learn from our mistakes or repeat them.

Time to run, got more unpacking and cleaning to do. See you round these parts later on.

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  1. Holly Jahangiri September 1, 2016 at 7:19 pm

    I don’t really understand why parents feel the need to pretend they’re superhuman. I’m not sure their kids appreciate that effort in the way it’s meant to be appreciated. I was always glad to know that my parents really did “get it” – that their advice was learned from hard experience, and that they didn’t spring from the womb as perfection itself. That they were still a work in progress. I understood that “Do as I say, not as I do” was an aspirational goal – but also that when I failed to live up to everyone’s best expectations, it didn’t make me a failure.

    But don’t worry. I won’t tattle on you if I see your son. I can’t promise he won’t go vanity surfing one day, and read your blog. 🙂

    • Joshua Wilner September 2, 2016 at 12:45 pm

      I can speak for other parents but I can say it has been important to me to try to help my kids feel like I can be the ultimate resource for them for as long as I could help them buy into it.

      Maybe because innocence is short lived and I wanted them to have as much as possible.

      • Holly Jahangiri September 2, 2016 at 1:04 pm

        I wasn’t exactly suggesting that you rob them of their INNOCENCE, here, Joshua. 😉 Just that you let them know you’re not *absolutely *infallible – you know, that you actually do know whereof you speak and aren’t some paragon of unattainable virtue who’s set the bar so high they can *never *come close in their attempts to live up to your example.

        Granted, if they’re very little, it’s okay to be Superman for a while. But I think once they’re teens, it’s okay to let them know you’re human (your son probably knows this – if he’s watched you play Call of Duty). It serves a double purpose – they can’t argue that you don’t understand, and they can’t pretend you’re too stupid to know what it’s like being a teen and didn’t see their shenanigans coming almost before they thought to get up to any. Because you DO know. And you aspire for them to be better people and not have to learn everything first-hand, but to benefit from your wisdom and experience when you say, “Hm, fire is hot. You don’t need to touch that stove to find out – you can trust me.”

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