Happy Anti-Trolling Day!

If you’ve been anywhere on blogs today, you may have noticed an increase in nice comments. That’s because today is Anti-Trolling Day, the creation of Mike Mei. According to him, anti-trolling is counter-acting the effects of trolling (or similar behaviors) by commenting or tweeting positive things in response to good work, or to bloggers or activists you appreciate. Mike also took some time to answer some questions about the reasoning behind this event.

Image by Evan Clark

Why are you doing Anti-Trolling Day (ATD)?

I am doing ATD because I realized how much of a difference positive feedback makes. One of the best feelings in the world comes from realizing that the work you do is appreciated. Unfortunately, much of everyday life, both online and offline, involves conflict, argument, stress, loneliness, or general negativity. I admit that there is a time and a purpose for thoughtful and passionate disagreements, but I argue that there is also a time for open appreciation and positivity.

I came to this realization through my interactions with the secular community. Many times, I have been writing on my blog, or posting things on Facebook, thinking that I’m only doing this because I’m bored and that nobody will care. After all, the world and the internet is a huge place. Who cares about my dreams and aspirations for a more liberal, secular, and humanistic world?

But after all the usual criticisms and comments come and go, the ones you really remember are from the people who tell you that you’re making a difference. The people who comment and say, “This is a beautiful post!” or “Super awesome!” The people who message you privately and tell you how much you’ve impacted his/her journey towards atheism. The people who thank you for your hard work and dedication, right when you are stressed out and about to crash. The people worth remembering.

I’m doing ATD because I feel it is important to take some time to acknowledge the goodness in other people, even people we disagree with or don’t particularly like. So today, go around and post supportive comments. It’s that simple. There’s nothing really complicated or revolutionary about it.

What’s been the reaction?

The reaction has been overwhelmingly positive. Many have expressed their support. I initially thought it was just going to be a circle of Facebook friends, but it has grown to be much larger than that. There have been troll posts and some confusion about the purpose of this event on the Facebook page, but I have not yet received any explicit expressions of disapproval.  I hope everything remains positive.

Will the trolls take notice, do you think?

I don’t know if the “trolls” will take notice, and I’m not concerned about it. That’s because our audience is not trolls. Our audience is people. We want to make people feel appreciated and supported. We want to counteract the raging, impersonal behemoth that is the internet with genuine expressions of gratitude. We want to be a juggernaut of secular awesome.

So, what bloggers will you be thanking on this ATD?

I’m 600+ posts behind on Google Reader, so I’m still deciding. But I think I’ll definitely at least thank the bloggers I read most often, like Hemant on the Friendly Atheist (to be fair, I forgot to tell Mike where this interview would be appearing — Kate). Also, I’m praising local secular friends, as well as some Christians I’ve enjoyed having discussions with online. But shhhh… don’t ruin the surprise.

Will you be anti-trolling?

About Kate Donovan

Kate is a junior studying psychology and human development at Northwestern University. She is the president of Northwestern's Secular Student Alliance and a writer at Teen Skepchick, Heresy Club, and various other places around the internet. Sometimes she sleeps.