Recently, I was pointed to an article over at Kotaku that was surprisingly not a heaping pile of refuse. For those who don’t want to give the site your click, the story covers a mother who found her daughter’s twitch channel. On this channel, the streamer Raihnbowkidz plays League of Legends, usually with a lot of cleavage and bra on display. The mother saw how her daughter handled trolls in the chat, and eventually became a moderator.
It’s unfortunate that the article brings up ‘boobie-streamer’ twice (once in the mother’s words), but it seems the shaming parlance is an inescapable part of our online lexicon at this point. Long story short, mom and daughter, who didn’t seem to get along well before, came together over her twitch channel as mom becomes a moderator and learns to handle the trolls with the same sort of sarcasm and humor her daughter did.
What caught my eye about this article honestly is how the streamer, and eventually her mother, deal with the trolls. Trolls are an every-day part of life for anyone who goes online anywhere. Whether it be gaming, watching videos, sharing content on YouTube, or writing articles for an online news site. We all face them and most of us know they aren’t going away.
Due to the nature of trolls online, people who entertain themselves by throwing insults, are overtly sexist or racist, or are just plain foul, the manner in which we deal with them can have a drastic effect on our own experience. That’s why I was impressed with this streamer’s attitude, not that it’s entirely unique, but in a time where all we hear about is how everyone’s a victim of bad words online, here’s a young woman who refuses to be a victim.
In her mother’s own words, she understands exactly what a troll is, and it is what drives how she handles them:
“I was really quite fascinated by her strength and humor. The way she handled trolling won people over, including myself,” Jomha said. “I don’t need to feel protective of her.” What she thought were ad hominem attacks against her daughter, Jomha said, aren’t “hurtful to her. She doesn’t take it seriously. It’s the internet. It’s anonymous. 99% of it isn’t meant. They’re trolling!”
Her mother goes on to say that the way the trolls are handled has won many of them over as devoted subscribers and fans. This seems to support the old internet adage regarding feeding trolls, and avoiding doing just that. When you react with anger, or by asking for pity, the trolls just keep coming. That’s the reaction they want in their ignorant game of trying to look cool.
When you react with humor, ignore them, or give them back some ribbing of your own they tend to get bored and leave, or, in this case, become fans. Even banning them isn’t as effective, as that fuels their twisted ego and not much prevents them from creating new accounts to just come back. According to Raihnbowkidz, banning on her channel isn’t a common occurrence.
That’s what impressed me with the story of these two women. Too often, we see people begging someone to help them deal with the anonymous hecklers and trolls, or asking for pity, or worse, money. There’s little to be done, but to set examples of better behavior by all of us, calling out trolls where we see them, report explicit violations of rules for sites, and, in the end, avoid feeding them.
These two women have taken charge of their environment – in this case, their Twitch channel – in a way that doesn’t make them victims. They know exactly how to handle the trolls, and oddly enough have bonded over the shared experience. I honestly think the best solution to the problem of trolls online is more of this because, as long as we keep making it fun for them, by reacting exactly the way they want, they’ll keep doing it.