Responses to Online Communication

Don't Feed the Trolls
Don’t Feed the Trolls

The face in the “Don’t Feed the Trolls” icon I made above is from various places on the internet (which, nb: are not always safe for work). The icon is often used when someone is being trolled and is frequently called the trollface [wikipedia]. Trolling is the act of intentionally trying to anger, frustrate, or generally provoke an emotional response from someone else online. If someone posted comments on this post to ridicule my work, mislead me, or be a nuisance it could be construed as trolling.

Often these posts are made with anonymous (ie hottopic47) or fake people accounts (ie Bender Rodriguez). Unfortunately there certainly are people using their real name and posting vitriolic comments on social media as well. It is often best to delete, ignore, or report the trolling comment, but how should you respond to the real person posting the hurtful comment?

The district has noticed discussion in social media about the district, schools, teachers etc and  we as a district are considering how and when is it appropriate to respond.

Some thoughts on responses to online communication (social media, websites, email…)

  • Take the high road in any reply
  • Consider whether a response is warranted. If not and/or you can’t do the above bullet, don’t respond.
  • Don’t add fuel to the fire, keep any replies respectful, professional and to the point.
  • Keep in mind that building positive relationships is a root cause of success.
  • Consider carefully whether your response encourages an open ended discussion and if you want to continue with that kind of discussion.
  • Would you say it to their face?
  • Assume whatever you say there is permanent, even if you delete it!
  • Consider offering a face-to-face meeting to discuss.
Adapted WITS anti-bullying program for Social Media
  • Walk away (stop reading the thread if it upsets you)
  • Ignore (stop reading from that poster and/or block/mute them)
  • Talk it out (discuss with trusted colleagues)
  • Seek Help (if social media becomes libellous or threatening it should be referred to the appropriate authorities including your administration, local representative, district staff, RCMP etc.)
If something you see online will likely affect the good functioning of your school, it should be reported to the school administrator.
Consider your Health

If you are having difficulty dealing with issues arising from work, from social media, or from family situations please keep in mind that SD60 employees and their families can access our Employee and Family Assistance Program. For more information and a number to call please see the following post –