LGBTQ advocate and media personality Raymond Braun can add reality TV show host to his résumé as he completes his three-episode stint as co-host MTV’s Catfish: Trolls on Wednesday night (August 1) at 10 p.m. ET. Throughout the series, Braun shines a spotlight on the dark underbelly social media: trolling culture.
“Going in, I basically thought that by the end each episode, the trolls would agree to stop trolling. That didn’t happen,” the star explains to Billboard. But that didn’t stop him from being optimistic about the future Internet culture. “I want to see the good in people, so I do believe it’s possible to have an Internet in the future with a lot less trolling. I think we need to fundamentally shift how we react and respond and retweet and upvote content online.”
Though Braun’s stint on Catfish: Trolls may be over, he is determined as ever in his quest to make the Internet a safer, more enjoyable space. Here are his nine rules for dealing with trolls:
Don’t respond right away.
A lot times when someone says something nasty to you online, your gut reaction is to clap back right away. It’s always good to take a cooling-f period -- I recommend sleeping on it.
Talk about it with a friend.
I think it’s really important to reflect on it and to talk to another person before you decide whether or not to engage. They might be able to see it from a fresh pair eyes.
Never meet a troll in the gutter.
Do not allow them to pull you down to their level. Try to respond in a way that models behavior back to them that you’d like to see them grow into.
Hurt people hurt people. If you’re a happy, successful, well-adjusted, fulfilled human being, you’re not spending your time attacking people online. If the people who are trolling are hurting, for them, trolling is way to get attention and feel good. Knowing that made me feel empathy for everyone.
Look to the pros.
There are a couple celebrities who handle it well. The first would be Cher. Her Twitter is so funny and eccentric -- she responds with humor. And then Chelsea Clinton turns things on their head: She’ll quote-tweet the troll and respond in a compassionate or intellectual way. Sometimes that will rile them up even more, but a lot times it gets them to stop.
Whether it’s one tweet or a hundred tweets, if someone says anything that can be construed as hate speech or violent or advocating harm -- that’s completely inappropriate. That shouldn’t be online. All the platforms have tools to report it through their ficial channels. If you are getting any kind death threats or threats violence, you can contact your local authorities.
There is no "online vs. real life."
I don’t think it’s something to mess around with. People spend so much time online, and the emotions you express online are authentic. I don’t see the delineation between the two. If someone is saying something horrible online to you, you should treat it the same way as if they’re saying it to your face in the street.
Take the conversation fline.
If I don’t agree with something that someone said online, I usually take the conversation fline. With social media and click-bait culture, a lot time nuanced arguments or complex emotions can get distilled down to one sentence, or one headline, or one emoji. When you have a reasonable debate with someone, it’s good to slide into their DMs and say, “Do you want to talk on the phone?”
Check on your friends.
It’s on all us to promote and actively participate in the culture we want online. I don’t know anyone who is happy and fulfilled that is spending their time attacking people online. If I saw a friend doing that, I would think there is something else going on and I’d want to help them with whatever that was. And that’s what we do on the show too.