The dark side: How a blogger deals with online trolls

If you’ll excuse the mouthful, trolling couldn’t be more of a trending topic right now. We’ve heard the tale again and again of many different public figures receiving horrific anonymous hate online – and another recurring theme seems to be that social networks are unwilling to take much (if any) direct responsibility for this kind of messaging.

Leanne Woodfull, one of Ireland’s biggest blogging success stories, has had to deal with some horrific personal slurs from trolls. I had a chat with her about dealing with negative backlash, her thoughts on karma and how trolls are allowed to let loose online…

What runs through your head when you get trolled, and how do you cope with the constant threat of it re-occurring when social networks such as Twitter can’t be relied upon to shut down abusive accounts?

It genuinely makes me worry about the human race… and my own generation. It's like people have become completely blind to general human guidelines and morals; the internet has blurred a line that is crossed far too often.

It usually goes over my head now and I block instantly and try and forget about whatever was said but when there is a mob going at you, sometimes you literally just need to step away and switch off from it all.

I like Twitter, but there are far too many loopholes in their terms of service that actually serve to accommodate trolls. The block button does virtually nothing bar letting someone follow you. They can still see all of you tweets, photos etc. if you're not on private. 

What has made the link between blogging and online bullying such an issue here? Is this a case of old-fashioned Irish begrudgery?

I honestly think Ireland is a nation of begrudgers, it's an old saying but it's true. People hate seeing others in their age range do something not only for themselves, but also something different. Now don't get me wrong, a lot of people are mature and nice enough to congratulate or at least ignore you if they dislike you, but a large minority of people love nothing more than to hop on the hate bandwagon to be honest. It's really sad to see and experience, especially when we're such a small country – it's too small for the negativity it seems to produce. It obviously happens all over the world but it seems to be extremely apparent here.

Recently, the story of Alanah Pearce reporting trolls to their mothers has gone viral. What do you think of this approach? Is it realistic?

I think it depends on the person to be honest. I'm sure if the parents of some Irish teens saw some of the things said about me in regards to my surgery and depression, they would be absolutely devastated upon finding out that someone they brought up is capable of such viciousness.

However, I'm a huge believer in karma. Sometimes I think it's best to let things blow over – in Alanah's case I believe it was sexual verbal abuse, so that's another thing altogether. When it comes to the regular "X and Y is a bitch, she's ugly, she's yada yada yada" it's best to block and ignore. If you end up hunting down their parents to show them what they say, you're only digging a deeper hole and putting some bad karma out there.

Realistically, businesses and companies have blacklisted many people already due to public trolling – especially in Ireland. Media/ journalism students for example should be aware of the "internet footprint" and that everything you say online, stays online – if you publicly post abuse and your full name/ photos and college is on your website, well, you've kind of already walked yourself into something anyway.

Karma works wonders and to be honest, it helps me sleep at night knowing that because I know people who put out such anger and hate, always get it returned to them in some way or another!

Deirdre Foley is a history grad, sceptic, wearer of red lipstick and self-confessed 'beauty maniac'. She is also the co-founder of fabulous Irish beauty blog, Viva Adonis.

Images via Instagram