More on Trolls

A few nights ago, doing math homework with Jack the Second Grader inspired a post about telling stories using multiple devices, such as the facts themselves, testimonials, pictures, and more. And now, tonight, Jack brought home a book to read to me, “Nate the Great Saves the King of Sweden,” by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat. I thought it very ironic that a central theme of this book involved the folklore of Nordic trolls, since last week I wrote about Internet Trolls.  

In the book, a boy named Nate helps solve a mystery for a classmate about a toy troll she lost while on vacation in Scandinavia.  In a special section at the end of the book, Sharmat does a good job elaborating on several topics that were part of the fun little story, including Sweden’s royalty,the countries that make up Scandinavia, what goes into a smorgasbord, and the folklore of Nordic trolls.

Close up of trolls
Close up of trolls

Here are some excellent “facts” about trolls that I learned today by helping Jack the Second Grader do his homework. According to the book, some trolls were big, others were smallish, but all were ugly. They have big noses, tough skin, large feet, and messy hair. They also have tails. They hear well, but their eyesight is limited.  Their sense of smell is keen.  

They have a habit of hanging out under bridges to pester those passing over, either demanding tolls or asking travelers to answer riddles.  Of course, this was documented well in the Three Billy Goats Gruff fairy tale told to children for centuries. I had believed it was this habit of haranguing all who went over the bridge that eventually led to the internet term, but I guess that was only part of its origins.  The art of “trolling” when fishing also is being alluded to with the internet term. As in, trolling for suckers. 

A final fact about trolls is that, when exposed to light, they turn to stone or explode. Hmmm….  OK, that’s enough enlightenment from the pages of second-grade literature.

Trolls & Other Scary Creatures

Trolls and goblins abound this Halloween!

As Halloween approaches, preparations are underway at the Luymes household. Costumes have been assembled and a pre-Halloween event — Sunshine Church’s “Trunk or Treat” — has already tested the kids’ door-to-door panhandling skills. Or, in that case, car-to-car.  It was a fun event and a good way for Sunshine to reach out to its community.

Pumpkins have been carved into scary visages that, apparently, do little to ward off squirrels that seem to love the rind of a semi-rotting gourd.  One little creature whom we’ve named Chunky, for obvious reasons, will run away when I charge him with menacing snarls, but returns moments later when I’ve turned my back on him.

In similar ways, another little hobgoblin comes back to “my house” to nibble in uninvited ways. Amway’s Opportunity Zone has or had its own troll, so called because he lingers under the bridge to pounce upon any unwitting passersby. When a “troll” invades your social media space, how best should you handle the situation?

My tendency has been more liberal than some others who would simply block negative posters at a site. I tend to be a little forgiving and allow posters to push boundaries a little. I believe a good dialog needs to have two strong viewpoints, well supported and shared in a respectful manner. In the social media world, however, there are some who too easily whip out their steely knives and look to inflict flesh wounds on anyone with an opposing opinion. When that happens, and others are scared away or just fed up with the type of conversations trolls like to ignite (the type that provokes an emotional response), the balanced blogger needs to step in and moderate.

Simple rules of engagement should be one of the first things a blogger establishes for his or her space. Here are a few of mine: stay on topic, respect others, avoid profanity, and know when to not have the last word.  Over the years, at The SuperDu Blog and in the Opportunity Zone in general, there were only a few commenters who abused these guidelines.  In most cases, even these individuals weren’t entirely banned although some of their posts were held back by moderators when they overstepped.

I think that will be the case here as well. After being a voice that advocated certain positions for Amway over the years, I cannot expect that those who disagreed will stay away from this space. That said, I’ve moved on to my own practice which, at this point, doesn’t include Amway among its clients. I’d like to encourage those who want to have the Amway “systems” debate to seek other playgrounds. You have an issue with Amway?  Tell the good people in The Opportunity Zone who will, if you’re on topic and respectful, lend a patient and responsive ear.

As for me, I need to finalize my Halloween preparations, including the purchase of candy to hand out to all the little monsters who drop by my house tomorrow evening. I gladly will give them access to my porch so I can drop goodies in their bags and buckets. Now, if they come back for seconds or thirds … that’s another story!