Let me clarify right off the bat what kind of troll I am and also what I am not. I am not the kind of person to get on the internet with the intention of making a 12-year-old girl cry. I do not pick on sweet old grannies or really anybody who’s just minding their own damn business.
Nah. I like to see who’s out there on the internets just being a dick and then be a dick to that guy. (And it’s usually a guy.)
What’s hilarious to me is that they’re usually astounded. I’m talking about guys who go full-on rage and condescension at a woman with not a second thought, but when you turn their abuse back on them, they blink. They blink big time. Then they focus their energy on telling me how “crazy” I am, for doing the exact same thing to them that they do to other women as naturally as breathing.
Why do I do this?
I think there are several reasons:
I like to be right
That’s just my personality. I don’t know why, and I’m not proud of it. But I get a huge charge out of being right. I suspect it has to do with the positive feedback I’d receive in school for having the correct answers, when at home I mostly received negative feedback. So I became, as Snape once said to Hermione: “An insufferable know-it-all.” This does not mean I’ll continue to fight for an idea if someone proves I’m wrong. I guess I like to think I’m a “better” kind of troll because if I’m legit wrong, I will apologize and acknowledge that. Why? Because I happen to be a huge fan of facts and the truth. Not that I don’t have my biases. I do. But facts matter more than ever.
I’m actually fighting with my dad
My dad is a bully. There’s really no other to way to say it, except that he’d certainly take exception to that characterization. He thinks he’s the nicest guy in the world. He’s not. I’ve watched my dad bully plenty of people over the years, including my mother, and I’ve been on the receiving end of his bullying, too. So when I get a chance to bully a bully, I’m really just standing up to my dad. Does knowing that stop me from trolling? Not so far.
I have full-blown TDS
I have, what trump fans call Trump Derangement Syndrome, which means that I am “triggered” like a “snowflake” over all things Donald Trump, which is true. Because he’s a terrible person and on the short list for one of this country’s all-time worst presidents. I am still so dumbfounded and offended by his presence that sometimes I just have to poke one of the Orange Shitgibbon’s minions, just to try to get them to explain themselves.
I have a weird relationship to being a troll. It’s like your typical addiction, I guess. I love it and hate it, all at the same time. On the one hand, it’s clearly doing something for me. On the other, I’m often ashamed afterward.
I’m tired of being a woman watching women be openly bullied
Often when I go after some jerk online it’s because he’s a misogynist. Over the course of my life, I’ve seen women openly bullied in public, several times. It happens so often that as a society, we’re often blind to it. I’ve seen men bully their wives and girlfriends in stores. I’ve seen male bosses bully their female subordinates. I’ve seen teenage boys try to pull girls’ pants down in high school. Once, when I worked in a grocery store in college, the husband of a woman I worked with came into the store drunk to yell at her. Everyone froze. Except me. I told him to get out. He was stunned. I was scared out of my mind, adrenaline pumping through my body, but I also couldn’t stop myself from speaking up. Why? Because pretty young I learned a valuable lesson: Bullies are almost always cowards. If you stand up for yourself, even a little, most bullies will back off.
I’m a writer
I am not the only writer who’s online all day, mainlining Twitter and Facebook like a junkie, reading, liking, commenting, mixing it up. For a lot of writers, social media is like crack. There’s an endless supply of reading, and endless opportunity to give one’s opinion on allll the writing out there, from professionals to that idiot acting like a keyboard warrior. (Which, ironically, is also me.) It’s an endless cycle of read and comment, read and comment when I want to indulge in it, and no matter how bad it might be for me (is it?) I can’t seem to stop engaging online.
BUT. Not all writers argue with people online. A lot of us do, because writers tend to be opinionated and narcissistic. But like all people, writers are all different. I want to be the type (haha) of writer who Tweets out devastatingly clever things and maybe on occasion slays a public figure who deserves it in some unique fashion. What I usually end up doing is arguing with bozos. Which, in turn, makes me a bozo.
Most nights when I lie down in bed, I tell myself I’m not going to troll tomorrow. Then I wake up the next day and do it again.
At minimum, I have some rules for myself; as I said above, I don’t pick on folks who seem innocently confused or ignorant. If I figure out I’ve been lashing out at someone who really is just naïve, I will apologize. But that doesn’t make up for the fact that I lashed out and possibly hurt someone who didn’t deserve it in the first place.
Now that I’m writing this all out, and being honest to myself about it, maybe I’ll be able to knock it off.
Nah. Probably not.