They are self-replicating.

They do not have any moral fiber.

When you kick them, they start to expand and grow, like a water balloon filled with green slime. Calling attention to their antics, either by making a comment or reading what they post, only fuels the  troll expansion.

This week, Kelly Ripa decided to take on the trolls. The popular talk show host, who could read an arrest warrant while smiling and make it seem cheerful and fun, called out a body shamer who said her head was too big for her body. Another mentioned how she wears too much makeup. She made a few snarky comments, which you'd think would quell the fire.

It does not.

When a troll comments, it is like a twig on a coal. There's a flame, and it hurts if you touch it. But if you drag out a fire extinguisher, a blowtorch, or a bucket of water and try to bat down the flame, it doesn't work. The flame grows no matter what. Worms spreading, bugs crawling--call it what you want, but trolls don't die. They simply keep replicating, keep commenting, keep attacking. When one troll dies, a dozen more snap to life.

I had one today: "This is the stupidest prediction I've ever seen."

Not nice, right?

But there's nothing you can do. Nothing.

Except one thing.

Over the past 17 years as a writer, watching as social media rose in prominence (and annoyance, at times), I've learned that the only way to stop trolls is to ignore them. They can't self-replicate if you just pretend they don't exist. Yes, the comments are hurtful and rude; there isn't a lot of tact. In person, a troll might crawl back into a cave and weep softly, hurt that you even looked at them, but in digital form a troll only wants attention and commentary. Getting you to respond is the win. That is the end game.

That's why, for years and years, I've just deleted the comment. Immediately. I don't fire back. I don't write about them often.

It works.

You save precious fuel and energy, because poking just causes even more harm ... to you. Trolls want you to hurt them back, that's another goal, and if you comment or read what they say, it doesn't work because even if you are smarter and more clever, they still win because you are proving the troll is not smart or clever, and you've revealed how unintelligent they are. That's what they want. To be hurt.

So, Kelly. Just delete, block--ignore. Don't call them out.

Then watch as the twig fades.

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