How To Know If You’re An Insufferable Twit (#1: Trolls)

Inspired by a recent conversation in real life, I’m starting a new series here on Compass & Quill called “How To Know If You’re An Insufferable Twit.” I’m sure I could come up with 20 things right now if I took a few minutes to ponder the issue, but at the moment I’d just like to address one major sign: trolling your REAL LIFE FRIENDS on social media.

No, I’m not talking about people who leave clever and/or asinine comments for the joke of it. I’m talking about people who deliberately (or maybe not deliberately – maybe they’re just obtuse) mistake every social media post as the perfect chance to start an argument, and jump in with guns blazing. If this is something you do, make no mistake, it’s highly disconcerting to most of the rest of us. It’s also incredibly rude.

How can you avoid becoming a troll twit, you ask? It’s pretty simple, provided you have a moderate grasp of reality and realize that it’s not ALL ABOUT YOU.

First, realize that most of the time, unless people are posting statements directly to your wall, they’re not seeking to incite a riot when they post an idea or article to their FB pages. They’re simply sharing something that that makes them laugh, ponder, or reflect. Take a look – is the article entirely benign? Are you feeling testy anyway? Do not comment. Just walk away and go find a better battle to fight elsewhere on the web.

If you’re still not sure whether your friend posted this article or idea as an invitation to argue, study the subject matter in relation to your friend’s personality. For instance, if the person is a Grateful Dead fan and they post a Grateful Dead song to their page, they probably aren’t looking to get into an argument about the evils of the legalization of pot (not on this post, anyway). Similarly, if a person is spiritual and likes to talk about upbeat things, then posts an article about an exceptionally inspiring person with a message of peace, they probably aren’t looking to get into a discussion about how misguided the news outlet that ran the story is. At this point, if you can see that your friend posted a story innocently, but it still makes your blood boil for whatever reason, by all means share the story on your own page and start a dialogue there.

Is your friend argumentative, with a proven love of controversial posts? By all means, comment away, and bully for you for finding a sparring partner.

Of course, the best course of action, if you aren’t too self-absorbed and irrational to grasp it, would be to keep replies short and sweet, be calm and rational, and think nothing but kind thoughts as you comment – even if you’re attempting to “correct” your friend’s concept of life. There’s nothing wrong with a healthy, well-founded conversation via social media, especially not if you’re talking to a person you love and admire. Friends should be able to have opposing viewpoints, after all.

But friends shouldn’t have to put up with angry, misanthropic asshats who take every opportunity to claim the moral high ground and go on the offensive. It wasn’t polite before social media, and it’s certainly not polite – or normally even warranted – in this day and age. Being more intimately connected with the thoughts of our friends does not give us leave to make little of them. Instead, it gives us a chance to build stronger bridges, and discuss bigger ideas. We have the opportunity to remain civil and sensitive to the needs of our fellow humans. If you’ve got your fingers in your ears, jumping up and down on the heads of the people who love you best, YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG.

And you’re an insufferable twit.

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