Dear Internet, Can We Agree on these Definitions?

A Bully:

  • Threatens bodily harm;
  • Physically or emotionally intimidates their target;
  • Makes their target fear for their safety;
  • Seeks to make their target cower;
  • Is hostile and often unrelenting in belittling and intimidating their target;
  • Seeks to disrupt the normal course of life for another & make it miserable;
  • May attempt to gather others to their cause of intimidation or threats;
  • May seek to defame & harm their target through subversive, dishonest means, such as broad internet comment spamming, starting an anonymous Facebook page to spread gossip and lies, or the posting of wrongfully gained, private information.

A Bully is Not:

  • Someone who disagrees with you, even vehemently;
  • Someone who makes mention of something they don’t like about you;
  • Someone who doesn’t like you in general;
  • Someone who makes a passing criticism of your work, looks, behavior, beliefs, or attitude.

 _ _ _

 An Internet Troll is:

  • Someone who stalks another person, their posted work or websites, for the sole purpose of diminishing that person or their work;
  • Someone who delights in leaving hateful, hurtful comments;
  • Someone who may use several personas and/or IP addresses to spread their hateful message;
  • Someone who appears to be on a personal, vindictive mission against another.

An Internet Troll is Not:

  • Someone who leaves a single, negative comment on a post;
  • Someone who calls the thoughts, beliefs, or actions of another into question;
  • Anybody that doesn’t like you or agree with something you’ve posted.


Footnote: If we can move past the bastardization of terms like “bullying” and “trolls” then perhaps next we can address the TMZ’ing of names. From “Branjelina” to “Nobama” to “RMoney,” our social discourse too often sounds like a playground during 4th grade recess. Most of us are smarter than that. We should be able to resist the plague-like catchiness of silly nicknames.

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