What six years of blogging has taught me about handling trolls

by Janelle Hanchett

A writer recently asked me how I handle assholes on the internet.

And I’m really glad she asked, because after six (nearly seven!) years of blogging, I have finally perfected the craft of polite, professional maturity in the face of trolls who don’t read the post then call me “fat and ugly” just to be safe.

Or, do read the post and call me a “sad specimen of goat feces” who they hope “gets eaten by vultures.” Vultures don’t even eat feces, you fucking moron.

Sorry. Lost my maturity there for a second. This rarely happens.

Anyway, generally when I come across a comment that sends my blood rushing to the top of my head, where it swirls in incredulous shock and malaise, I click off of it and tell myself I shall ignore it like a mature professional adult.

I remind myself of all the other bloggers on the internet who get eaten alive by comments and don’t respond at all and I tell myself “You can be like them, too, Janelle!” You can do it! You’re a real grown-up now.

Then I click back over to the comment and reply, “I hope you die in a fire.”

After that, I may delete it but I don’t edit it because I don’t want the commenter to know how much their comment bothers me. If it’s been more than five minutes, I don’t delete it because then the commenter will know I wrote something then deleted it, which means I don’t stand by my word and am weak and afraid. Or maybe they’ll call me out on deleted comments, which means they got the better of me.

Then I remind myself that the commenter HAS ALREADY IN FACT GOTTEN THE FUCKING BETTER OF ME BECAUSE I AM SITTING HERE OBSESSING OVER HOW TO RESPOND TO A COMMENT THAT SAYS, “I’m glad California is burning because of all the gays and I hope they learns and than stop blocking Trump from MAGA!!!!!!”

If I leave the comment, I swear I won’t return because now I have re-doubled my maturity efforts and I’m sure they’ll work this time.

I take a screenshot and send it to 2-17 friends.

Then I go about my life until a few hours later, when I see a notification from Captain MAGA. I think No don’t look.

Then I look.

At that point, I either:

  1. Ignore it (this happens twice a year);
  2. Respond with a GIF which satisfies a little bit of my desire to have the last word while also allowing me to bow out of the conversation; or
  3. Actually attempt words, then regret it immediately.

Sometimes, when I’m really feeling on top of my game, I unfriend and block the person then tell myself “I really should be more mature about thing,” and remind myself that someday I’m going to be 90 years old (hopefully), and I will most likely look back at the whole days irate at some stranger in Idaho as something along the lines of “a waste of time.”

Not that I spend whole days irate.

I definitely do that.

But I’ve come super far, guys. When I first started blogging, I used to spend 13 hours carefully crafting the perfect rebuttal to trolls, and I’d keep riding that train for hours or days, way beyond the point at which it became clear this person and I were FOR SURE NOT GETTING ANYWHERE EVER.

No worries. I would not be deterred. I was a motherfucking keyboard warrior.

It would end when I blocked them because I’d be like “This is my blog and YOU LOSE!”

Then I’d go back to wishing I were a real adult.

I was so ridiculous about it, I even had older, more seasoned writers EMAIL ME OUT OF THE BLUE to let me know that instead of responding to 37 randoms on the internet who hate me, perhaps I should just move on to my next writing project.

You know, for funsies.

I literally had a “talking to” by writers I know. GO TEAM.

After that, I only spent one hour shit-slinging with trolls I’ll never meet.

And now, I’m down to like fifteen minutes, and sometimes even respond to asshole comments with a semblance of patience and tolerance.

That also happens twice a year.

You know what we call that, people? Motherfucking progress.

Baby steps to maturity.

Also known as, who fucking cares. 

Speaking of maturity, I just spent 45 minutes making an infographic.

Have a nice day.

Super Scientific Maturity Data Analysis

P.S. Fine. What I’ve actually learned after all these years is that the only thing that matters is that we keep going. With our words, our work, our art. And that, I fucking mean. 


Check out sponsor Meg Worden. She says cannabis is the new kale.

Perhaps that would help my maturity.

25 Comments | Posted in I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT I'M DOING HERE. | November 16, 2017
  • Maureen Wanket

    Hilarious, perfect, and true. That’s you.

  • janelle

    fuck that. if you want to respond, do it. if you want to block, do it. if you want to ignore, do it. who fucking cares. theres no actual rule on what you SHOULD do. and you dont always have to do the same thing. do whatever the fuck you want, and just dont waste your time feeling guilty about it in the future. sometimes its fun to push the trolls buttons. dont deny yourself that pleasure just because some people think its not professional or mature.

  • Peggy

    I fall in the Old with no fucks left category. Just FYI,dear. ????

  • Melissa

    Love this. So very spot on. Unfortunately, I have two more steps to responding to trolls: talking to myself in the car about how ridiculous the other person and practicing the retort I should have said in the mirror while washing my face at night.

    But my acceptance phase always ends with the same saying, “It’s easier to fool people than convince them they’ve been fooled.”

  • Kat


  • Sherry

    lol… OMG, I don’t even blog and I spend a lot of time stuck in the loop you’ve just described. Social media’s main function in my life has pretty much been showing me how stupid/racist/crazy a large percentage of my former high school classmates have grown up to become. Ugh. Glad I moved far, far away.

    Sometimes I kind of wish bloggers that I love (um, mostly that’s just you) would just delete the shit from the trolls. Sometimes, it’s nice to have a safe place to go, where I can read the comments section without weeping for my children/humanity. Yeah, yeah, I know, I’ve been told there is some kind of protocol around not doing that. But I, for one, would be in complete support of a “No Douche Canoe” zone.

    • renegademama

      Ha! Yes. And thank you. I actually do delete the pure troll comments. I was joking here, but my standard is that if it’s JUST name-calling, I delete it, but if it’s name calling with a shred of actual criticism of my ideas/writing, I leave it. And anything that insults my husband or children. Those get deleted. IDGAF.

  • Rose Gilbert

    LOL ! Dan Rather maturity level!? Holy shit that is perfect. Not sure that’s an attainable goal, but it’s good to aim high!

  • Caris

    You are awesome!xxx

  • Renee

    I’m a 63 year old grandmother – I’ll respond to the motherfuc#%&*@s, I mean ,the coc*&#%kers, sorry I meant the jac*&%ffs……. I give up! I’ll handle the damn trolls for you. I’ve got a few under my belt! Oh geez……

  • Marie

    As usual, your writing is fantastic.

    Also, I like Renee’s comment above. You should definitely keep her.

  • Peggy M

    I’m definitely sometimes on the toddler level but I don’t blog and I’m too lazy to respond to trolls on anyone else’s site, so I pretty much just have spikes in unwritten rants, then move on to some dog videos.

  • Gayle

    Lol, I read you because you are so real! I dont usually do social media, so I am troll free in the virtual sense. I teach 9th grade English, and I talk about being mature ALL THE TIME. And yet, last Friday I called my real life troll, a bully senior teacher, an ass…to his face, with witnesses. He doubled down on the assholery, but guess who was protected and even quietly celebrated? That’s right, me. I had done the maturity thing, but it didn’t fit the situation, and even my boss agreed enough was enough. Sometimes adult immaturity is actually courage, which I think you have in abundance!

  • Barb

    I don’t blog.. but the trolls wind me up… can’t even imagine it being directed at me….cue music.. new admiration for what you do!! I can’t stand it so much that I unfollowed my husband on FB because of the MAGA (or as I call it make america gag again) crap he posts… well it’s cheaper than a divorce…

  • Jill

    But infographics are IMPORTANT

  • Kathleen

    I’ll probably never meet you, but I love you. You speak the truth!

  • Tara

    I resemble this post. Mostly for stupid FB people (if I had trolls on my blog it would mean people would have read it! woot!) who read 3 out of 70 words in a forum post, whirl them around in their brain cells, spit out a perfectly off-topic reply that usually involves solutions found in oils and gluten, then calls me defensive for having the ovaries to try to refer commenter back to the words in the actual original post. I wish I could give up, but I wind up type-delete-type revenging in my brain for a good two hours. And then clearly, I let it all go. Uhg.

  • Karen Lindquist

    It really is unbelievable how much of our lives we will allow to be consumed by internet haters and trolls. I have left social media because, even if my own people are civilized, there is always someone with an asshole on their page, waiting to just vent their unintelligent drivel in a public forum.
    I found one way to end and exit and feel like I won before walking away is to just mockingly agree with the troll, extrapolating their words out to the most ridiculous conclusion, which makes them look like the ass they are while getting chuckles from everyone else.

    Why give them a platform. If we agree with them in a clever way that illustrates how fucked their worldview is, and we get everyone laughing at them, they almost always STFU. It is a response that invites no answer.

    Then I block them afterward. But the number of them who have blocked me first is awesome.

  • Anna

    “Then I’d go back to wishing I were a real adult.” = me, so much of the time, but not due to troll engagement (for that I’d actually have to write something people would read), just due to the real-life trolls who grow in our heads.

    Loved this post. As always.

  • Rebecca

    You’re awesome; I’m grateful for your unapologetic, profane honestly. That is all. xo

    • Rebecca


  • Liz Higgins

    Donald Trump tweeting! Just the best, most immature BS available! LOL!

  • Denise

    It’s uncanny how timely this post was for me. A video of an ignorant person passing himself of as a religious leader spreading hate and lies about our transgender friends came across my Facebook feed. I noted who the poster was with surprise and disappointment. I furiously wrote out a thoughtful response, filled with science and religion and hope for anyone who reads it. I felt victorious! Bring on the fight! But then just before I hit enter, I remembered that the poster was someone who quite enjoys drama and would love nothing more than a big street-fight on her page. And for what? No. Comment deleted, person unfriended. Phew. My lingering doubts are affirmed. Hearts are not won in the comments section. THANK YOU!

  • TJ Jean

    You Rock!! I love your profane honesty.???? Sometimes it’s hard being mature in the world we live in today.. because there’s a lot of fuck~ups all around us.