The noise, the noise, how can we turn off the noise? The lines have clearly blurred on what is considered socially acceptable. As a country and society, we have experienced more than our fair share of noise in the past 18 months or so. Is this the new normal? Everywhere you turn, there it is. It creeps up in the comments section of online newspapers, stories, and of course, your social media feed. The noise and abuse – the trolls are everywhere.

For those of you who have just experienced a Rip Van Winkle moment, you know just woke and discovered social media, you will no doubt quickly learn what a “troll” is. According to the team at Wikipedia a “troll” is a person who sows discord on the Internet by starting arguments or upsetting people, by posting inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community (such as a newsgroup, forum, chat room, or blog) with the intent of provoking readers into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal, on-topic discussion, often for the troll’s amusement. If you are still unclear what a “troll” is you can read up on this phenomenon here:

Trolls have been around for centuries and will most-likely never go away. I am sure there were trolls scribbling over the early cave drawings or engaging in gossip around the campfire while gnawing on ribs from a Woolly Mammoth. To be clear, there is a difference between constructive feedback and posting mean spirited baseless comments online.

But, all is not lost. Team Twitter has come up with a workable solution, as reported by the New York Times, that builds off of their mute function that was made available in 2014 that allowed you to “mute or filter out a particular user account without blocking or unfollowing that account” – Their new efforts include expanding the “mute” feature through “notifications”. Twitter users will be able to mute keywords, phrases, and even entire conversations they no longer wish to receive notifications of, and will be made available to everyone soon.

Here’s a portion of Twitter’s official statement – “The amount of abuse, bullying, and harassment we’ve seen across the Internet has risen sharply over the past few years. These behaviors inhibit people from participating on Twitter, or anywhere. Abusive conduct removes the chance to see and share all perspectives around an issue, which we believe is critical to moving us all forward. In the worst cases, this type of conduct threatens human dignity, which we should all stand together to protect.” The entire statement can be found here:

I am sure many of you have experienced firsthand the nastiness of the online world, but I’d like to think there is more good than evil out there. I also think this a welcome step in the right direction and will hopefully continue to evolve as technology does. Will other social media platforms follow suit? Time will tell.