I've been blogging for a while now, and while I never get any argy-bargy* here, I also comment a lot on FB pages and news web sites where I get into a lot of heated debates. Now I love, love a good debate, but when it descends to a slanging match it all gets a bit tiresome.
*argy bargy - aggressive behavior; spoiling for a fight.
I'm no psychologist, but I've found a few good methods of dealing with such people. You first have to decide whether you care about this person's opinion of you. With trolls, most people understand that they are the lowest of the low, but in rare cases you can find yourself in an argument with someone you respect or don't want to annoy. If this is the case you should simply end the discussion with something like "I don't want to argue with you like this." Don't let it get so far that you're never going to speak again.
Remember the Eleanor Roosevelt quote "No one can make you feel inferior without your consent." It's true - if someone is calling your parenting into question (the usual one), just metaphorically tell 'em to shove it. Just because someone can WRITE IN CAPS and use nasty swear words doesn't mean that they're right or that you have to give in to them. So what can you do?
- If they really are pondscum, just don't engage. Walk away from your computer if you must. It's very tempting to weigh in and "win" the debate, but most trolls thrive on any kind of attention (just like naughty children). Picture the saddoes sitting there rubbing their hands with glee because they've riled you up. It's very hard not to keep going back to see if they've replied, but if you truly want it to end, - end it - by not even looking at it.
- Never descend to their level of bitchiness, vulgarity or insults.
- Don't let them confuse "understand" with"agree". I am often told that I'm not understanding a particular issue when the other commenter hasn't been able to convince me of their point of view. (Let's be honest here, most of us, when commenting are actually trying to convince everyone of our view point.) I usually reply that what I'm doing is not agreeing rather than not understanding. Warning - a lot of people will simply restate your lack of understanding (sometimes in caps) but you still make your point.
- A sure sign of an idiot or someone who has no rational argument is a commenter who defaults to "You're an idiot" or (in my case) "If you hate it here why don't you go home?". In these instances I often say "Ah....the inevitable insults. A sure sign that you're out of arguments/proof/."
- If the argument is going on and on with no progress or promise of ending, either say "OK, you win", or, if they've threatened to cut you off - "Oh, ruin my weekend why don't you?".
- Ignore their comments on your blog and keep chatting with other commenters. In fact be over-the-top happy - give them the message that not only are you having a wonderful time despite their best efforts, their comment isn't even worth your time and attention.
- Call the troops in. I have done this many times. If you know someone needs taking down a peg or that you just need more than your lone voice against him/her, don't be shy about asking your friends to weigh in. The troll might not shut up, but at least s/he'll know the world's on your side.
- If it's your blog and you really don't like what the commenter is saying or how s/he is treating other commenters, you have a delete key. Not only do such people annoy you, but they annoy other commenters who may not come back if they think they're going to be in for insults and baiting all the time.
Life's too short, as they say.....