Are You an Internet Troll?

Armed with the Shield of Anonymity, trolls are everywhere online. They’re awful. Cruel. Sometimes intentionally, sometimes not. Without inflections, tone, and body language, the written word is rife with acerbic harshness.

Photography draws the trolls like flies to honey. For whatever reason, they see posted images as permission to offer unasked-for critique, to lambast the creator, to mock. It’s a thrill tor them to have power over someone’s self-worth.

And the worst part? They often don’t realize they’re trolls. To them, you’re just a random anonymous entity. You’re not a real, breathing, live person. They can’t see you flinch or wince. There’s a perceived lack of consequences.

This isn’t a new phenomenon, though. A 1960s-era study found that people were willing to administer electric shocks to a person they couldn’t see, even though they knew it was causing them pain. (Milgram, a psychologist at Yale).

Here’s how you don’t troll other photographers:

  1. Don’t be an asshole.
  2. Learn to give constructive criticism.
  3. Only give constructive criticism when asked for.
  4. Don’t edit other photographers’ pictures without their explicit permission.
  5. If you feel like being an asshole, go channel that energy into a creative project instead.


And for the fellow photographers:

  1. Most of these assholes are just assholes. Don’t take it personally. I know that’s hard.
  2. Don’t feed the trolls. Ignore them. If you’re tempted to respond and defend yourself, walk away from your computer/phone/etc., and channel your energy into a new project.
  3. Look for valid constructive criticism. And know that these CCs are because people are invested in seeing you improve. They see potential in you. They wouldn’t have taken the time to respond with concrete, useful CC otherwise. That’s awesome!
  4. Know that you have the power to reject their CC. If you don’t agree with their suggestions, that’s okay! Do be tactful if you choose to explain this.
  5. Go be creative. Learn new techniques. Start new projects. Make more stuff. Kick butt.


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