Warning: if you don’t have kids, much of this post won’t make sense.
They say that, when a woman becomes pregnant, she immediately becomes a mother, and the father doesn’t become one until he has the child in his arms. I’m certainly in that category. There were certain concepts I just did not understand. One of them was reading, watching, or doing the same activity, over and over and over. Then my twins came, and everything changed. Everything. I think this goes without saying, but things changed for the better.
Currently, my daughters are obsessed with the 2016 animated movie “Trolls.” Sometimes they watch the movie two, even three times a day. This is not the first movie they have been glued to; before this was Disney’s “Moana,” and before that was every episode of “Little Einstein’s,” “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse,” “PJ Masks,” “Goldie & Bear,” “The Wiggles,” and the 60’s version of “Batman.” There are books that go with us everywhere, and certain activities have to be done every day including long walks or wagon rides, coloring and singing at least three songs. When I introduce a new toy or a new show to them, they buck. Wanting nothing to do with it, they want to focus solely on what they already know. It is habitual.
Back to the “Trolls” movie. If you haven’t seen it, I can tell you every line. I’ll spare you that; the gist of the story is that there is a group of happy trolls and a group of unhappy monsters called the Bergens. The Bergens believe that if they eat a troll once a year (called Trollstice), they will experience true happiness. Through a series of fun songs, dances, and goofiness, Trollstice is avoided and true happiness is discovered.
I found many similarities between the Bergens and internet trolls–petty, bitter, angry, jealous, and refusing to accept change and anything different from their routine. The trolls in the movie are happy, singing, dancing, and smiling–nothing like internet trolls who sit and find someone or something to happen and immediately point out all of the things not up to par with them, their beliefs, or their way of life. The Bergens were like vultures, circling around until they found something. Anything. The Bergens were completely clueless and in the end were exposed for what they were–miserable–until the trolls showed them that happiness was inside them and that they didn’t need to eat a troll to be happy.
I feel the movie has a multitude of great takeaways for life these days. Our political spitefulness on all levels, from the President to the local superintendent, is both polarizing and shameful. Whether you love or loathe people elected or appointed to office, we should be setting examples for our future and displaying some kind of decorum.
Since becoming an administrator, I have been rather aggressive in trying to get teachers and administrators into practicing and being mindful of digital citizenship. Programs ranging from “Common Sense Media” to “HaikuDeck” offer lessons and applications on digital citizenship, platforms to use creative comments, and even how-to guides for chat rooms and posting comments online.
Will there still be internet trolls and Bergens in our world? Yep. Can we do something about it? We sure can. Don’t be silent. Do something.