Anyone who’s spent more than 5 minutes on the internet knows that it isn’t always the nicest place. Sure, the internet allows you to connect with fans of your favorite obscure band or learn about literally anything at 3 AM – but the ability to be anonymous on social media emboldens people, sometimes leading them to say things they typically wouldn’t. In other words, social media is often home base for trolls with nothing better to do than mess with people for their own sick enjoyment.
If you’re new-ish to the internet you may be thinking, “sure, people troll online – but they only troll people who deserve it.” False. There is no target too pure for a troll on the prowl. During a recent appearance on The Graham Norton Show, even beloved actor and Parkinson’s advocate Michael J. Fox admitted to being on the receiving end of some thorough trolling.
Though Michael J. Fox’s son and daughter frequently help him manage his various social media accounts, Fox himself takes time to read comments and respond to his followers. Like any public figure with a social media presence, Fox encounters his share of trolls. Generally, though, he tries to ignore them.
Feeding the trolls only makes them stronger, so the best strategy is to ignore them altogether. However, there is one topic that Fox doesn’t let slide. We shouldn’t be surprised at this point, given the cesspool that is the internet – but recently, someone made a shitty comment about Parkinson’s on Twitter.
In the interview, Fox explains that he “wanted to answer this guy in some way.”
But how do you respond to a troll without giving them more fuel? Fortunately for Fox, his son Sam is well-versed in troll control. When dealing with a jerk on the internet, less is more. Fox’s son suggested that Fox simply respond “SMH,” though at the time he didn’t know what it meant.
SMH, or shaking my head, is the universal sign of disappointment. It’s an acknowledgment, but one that says, “buddy, that was so painfully stupid that I don’t even have the words to point out just how stupid it was.” It’s an invitation to evaluate your life choices, which incredibly, is exactly what this troll did.
Rather than double down, the troll dropped the act and stepped up. According to Fox, the reformed troll responded, “this is the funniest thing I’ve ever read in my life, you’re the king of the internet, I apologize for anything I said to you, blah, blah, blah.”
Let this be a lesson to anyone who encounters a troll in the wild. Don’t stoop to their level, but if you must respond, hit ‘em with the old “SMH.”