"Go over to that long-sleeved wearing, cleavage exposing bitch’s wall and have a good laugh - I sure did."
That was a post I saw on my Facebook’s TL roughly 10 years ago. It was the girlfriend of one of my very good guy friends at the time, publicly referring to me on her best friend’s Facebook.
It was the first time I had ever been publicly ill spoken about and trolled so I was completely stunned. As far as I knew, this girl was someone whom I never had any bad blood with and was thoroughly confused. Hurt, confused.
When I mentioned it to my friend he insisted they were not speaking about me. But the trolling continued. She scoured my Facebook and Twitter for deficiencies, made comments referring to me my friends and my life, followed everything I was into and tried to pass it off as her own, and just generally tried to get under my skin. I did not confront or tell her anything but eventually, he and I got into a huge fight. She was jealous of me, he admitted but that’s just the way she is, just the way she chooses to express herself and me throwing a hissy fit over it wouldn’t change anything. I had my fair share of minor trolls in my lifetime but I'll share some more examples.
Fast forward to a few years later where I made a few friends on social media. Once again a girl whom I was on good terms with started trolling. Making derogatory comments to her boyfriend and even created a fake account called “Commoner” to mean that I thought I was better than them.
She sent nasty messages from this account, the worst being “Do you ever get scared your husband would f*ck your sister because she’s so much hotter than you?”
At that time, I had had enough. I came off of that Twitter which had my name. That was about 5 years ago.
Fast forward to after my divorce. Fake accounts on Instagram calling me a whore. People spreading rumors.
I came off IG. I even confronted the rumor mongers. That’s the best part - trolls in real life have no voice. I tried to stay clear of putting too many current personal things out there, keep as much to myself about my life as possible.
I'll admit, I thought by now everyone would act like adults and those days would be over but here we are. 2 weeks ago- a fake account asking if me talking about accidental screenshots is my way of bragging about having an iPhone X. (???)
And now this week, another fake account accusing me of stealing someone’s husband.
But trolls come in many shapes, forms, sizes. All with one common trait - feeling slighted.
This week has been a week for them in my life. Not just online but also offline. People who do not do what they set out to do, make excuses and try to put you down when you do the work. People who disregard what you say because they prefer the sound of their own voices. People who just want everything you have but can’t achieve it on their own. People who get offended when you stop asking for their help.
Life’s trolls like those little turtle shells thrown at you or banana peels on the road in Mario Kart. They might slow you down for a few seconds but you still get to continue the race.
Now, because I am a clinician, I had to look at the evidence and deduced these risk factors which increase your chances of having a troll; see Fig. 1 below:
Trolls are attention seeking. They spend more time on your social media and blogs more than any other. They want to stir you, get under your skin, make you think you aren’t that special. They are unhappy with their lives and hate seeing you happy in yours. You are everything they wish they could be. But they can’t be you, so they’ll attack. Cowardly bullies.
If you think about it, they’re having quite the season. Made their mark during and after the US presidential election but they have always been present. Check any YouTube comment section. Jimmy Kimmel’s mean tweets. The Parkland kids! People even accuse them of being crisis actors in their time of grief. Antivaxxers are my favorite trolls. They always say, “Do the research!” so funny lol.
My favorite person for dealing with trolls is Chrissy Teigen. She just calls them out and her fandom attacks. Eventually, the trolls delete their tweets/accounts. But I’m not on that level. Yet.
Trolls are just people who refuse to look at the other side of the story because what they see on the surface is so much easier to hate and feel better about attacking. And once you put yourself out there, expect them. I am in awe of all the public figures who deal with hundreds of trolls daily.
The girl from 10 years ago? The weird part was, I somehow always thought we would make great friends but I guess she did not feel the same. She was upset that her boyfriend was actually with her because of his unreciprocated feelings of affection for me. So she attacked the way I looked. But then also tried to copy everything she could. I forgave her. She did not know any better. Especially not that I wear long sleeves and have worn long sleeves my entire life to cover the burn on my left arm.
The troll from 5 years ago? She probably just wanted to be friends and maybe I didn’t acknowledge that.
The troll from IG? Easy. Any woman who leaves an unhealthy relationship is at some point deemed a whore. The circumstances are irrelevant.
The troll from last week? Well let's just say people tell themselves what they need to, to avoid looking at their own failures.
I’m sure at some point we all have to deal with some form of troll. I didn’t before, but now I see it as a sign of progress. Now I see that I am just doing something right if it means someone has time to hate me for it. And that’s fine, I mentioned in my last post that, not wanting negativity in life is a dead person’s goal.
If you are someone who’s had to deal with this kind of abuse, then I hope you didn’t engage and get sucked into an argument with any troll. And if you ever do come across one, have the fortitude to hold back from argument, as tempting as it may be, as inane as they sound. If you prefer to take the route of kindness as Sarah Silverman did when a sexist troll attacked her, then I applaud you. It's true that most of these people are already in pain or angry. But the majority just want you to also be miserable and want to start a fight. That’s just what they’re looking for. So let them crawl back under the bridge where they belong and continue living your best life.
They eventually disappear like everything else that is irrelevant.