If you conduct any of your life online, at one point or another, you have probably been trolled. And although one might argue people who spend any amount of time online have no life at all, the trolls they meet are every bit a reality.
Recently a woman made headlines when she apologized for trolling people online. She claims to have spent more than 12,000 hours bullying strangers on the Internet from the dark recesses of her basement in St. Louis, Missouri. In the article she said she was coming clean and admitted to being ‘haunted’ by the horrible words she once hurled at others. And while this might be a cautionary tale for why people should not troll, I think it is a much better example of what a troll really is. Let’s examine who this woman really is.
Her name is Landon Eason. She is overweight and unattractive. Now, please don’t hate me. I’m not trying to shame her. Hell, most would consider ME unattractive. I am merely pointing out facts. Deeper in the article this woman also admitted to being an alcoholic. She is also a bitter divorcee. She is unemployed. And she spends a disproportionate amount of her time typing away on a computer in a dark room of her home. Without knowing all of the other facts, I’d also guess she has poor health (both mentally and physically), she is uneducated, and has few (if any) friends. And if she has family that is still alive, they probably don’t enjoy being around her. This, I am afraid, is the anatomy of a typical troll.
Over the years I have crossed paths with trolls. Some came from groups who disliked my photography and the profession of those who raise cattle. They consider the cattle industry inhumane and those who make photographs of the beef industry accomplices to murder. Other trolls are associated with competitors. And still others are anonymous people whose opinions differ from mine and whom I have crossed paths with online. Regardless of who these trolls are or why they bully people, they almost always share a common profile. And they almost all like to play for keeps…because God forbid a person should have an original thought and think just a little bit differently than they do.
Every month there are trolls trying to ruin my name by publishing false and libelous information about me or my business online. Other trolls have reported me to police for crimes I have not committed. Some trolls have even tried contacting my family hoping to embarrass me and hoping I will stop whatever it is I am doing that makes them so angry and vile. And there are other trolls who share my personal information online. The goal of trolls is simple; to shut me up…even though my actions harm no one and are 100% legal and ethical in every way. My trolls, unfortunately, cannot say the same thing and ultimately end up engaging in the very sins they accuse others of doing. I hope one day I am afforded the opportunity to know who they really are, because I would not waste an opportunity to use the law to punish them for damages.
As more and more Americans live their lives inside a smart phone or computer and fewer and fewer live their lives in the old fashioned three dimensional world of reality, trolling will become more and more common. It is a sad reality of life. It’s just too bad these people lack the brains and/or integrity to articulate their views humanely. It is also too bad our world has become a place where people no longer respect the views and actions of others without having to engage in a personal crusade to destroy their lives.
How pitiful these people must be. How miserable their lives surely are. And how much time they must have on their hands. Perhaps if they spent less time trolling and spent more time out-and-about meeting people, engaging people, and getting to know people (real people), maybe their view of the world might be a little different. Going through life as a nobody with no friends or family who love and respect you is not a way to live one’s life. And if you a troll just because you disagree with me, why not throw open your curtains and share what you are doing with the rest of the world? Like a cockroach, trolls like to work under the cloak of darkness. And do you know the perfect disinfectant for cockroaches (and trolls)? It is more sunlight.
Oh, and might I also suggest trolls seek help from a mental health professional. You need it.