My Last Troll

The majority of my readers are delightful people; they like and comment and follow and post interesting and insightful thoughts. If they disagree, they do so respectfully and politely. But every so often I get a troll. They often start off quite pleasantly, just making one or two points on which they differ from me, but as soon as I start engaging with them they become ruder and ruder until finally their posts consist of nothing but insults. The last one who did this was blocked, though not as soon as he ought to have been (so far I’m pretty sure they’ve all been male) though as I’ve just discovered in the trash folder, he carried on commenting and trying to get me to react for about a year.

Actually reading through all his comments I found myself in tears… of laughter. Like the death of Little Nell they were so ridiculous that I actually found them funny. I’m not going to repeat any of them but I think it’s real progress that they made me laugh instead of getting to me. Because that is the point: to get to you. It’s not about what the comments say, it’s about that person trying to get under your skin in any way they can; to undermine, to pour scorn and loathing and vitriol and keep pouring it until (they hope) you just give up.

It’s my theory (and OH’s) that trolls are generally people with impossibly high standards. I always check out my followers and invariably these trolls don’t have a blog or website of their own with any content on it at all, because they’re afraid to put themselves out there. And because they’re afraid they envy anyone who has the guts to do this; and because they envy us they try to bring us down.

In the early days of this blog I was terrified that as soon as I expressed an opinion I would get a load of criticism from all sides. But that never happened, and over time I’ve learned to handle people disagreeing (so long as they do so respectfully). What took me longer to learn was zero tolerance of rudeness; I put up with it for far too long. All of which links to…

Mental health. This was going to be my main topic but I went off on one. Thankfully it is much more acceptable to talk about mental health nowadays than it was in my youth; although when people say ‘I’ve got mental health’ I always have to stop myself from saying ‘congratulations’ and asking how they managed it. What they mean, of course, is ‘I’ve got mental health problems’ and that is an area I know something about. I know depression and I know psychosis, and right now – whether it’s the hot weather or just a burst of energy or something else – I can feel psychosis nudging at my elbow. What does it feel like? I’ve learned to recognise the signs now, so it doesn’t generally sweep over me. This can be terrifying. The best way I can explain it is like an old-fashioned swirly ‘dissolve’ on TV which they used to indicate a dream or the passing of time (I don’t know what it’s called so I can’t find any videos of it.) Anyway, it feels like that; you’re just walking along and suddenly everything goes swirly and you lose hold on reality. It’s very frightening. I think mental health is very relevant to trolls; I’m not saying they’re all mentally ill but a healthy person does not spend their time trying to bring others down. I’m tempted to write a poem now in the style of Browning’s My Last Duchess:

That’s my last troll up there on the wall

looking as if he were alive…

Kirk out

5 thoughts on “My Last Troll

  1. For what it’s worth, you have my empathy. I’ve found it increasingly difficult, as I get older, to deal with negative criticism, especially as I’ve had to contend with anxiety issues. Thankfully, I haven’t experienced any problems on WordPress, and nowadays I’m much more circumspect on Facebook: the least anxiety-inducing way would be to refrain from any contentious comment, even among my extended circle of ‘friends’, but occasionally the nonconformist part of me rebels. Having no concern for what others [close friends & family excepted, of course] think of me is not an easy attribute to cultivate, but I’m working on it…….. Cheers, Jon.

    1. I’ve done the same with Facebook; whenever I’m tempted to express an opinion I think, Is it worth it? Will anyone really listen or will they just react? Even if my friends react well, their friends might not. So I just stay away from it. And I agree, it’s not easy to be indifferent to what others think

      1. People sometimes express their views very forcefully and this can sometimes be associated with coming from a more emotive, and therefore possibly prejudicial, perspective, and being put off from commenting leaves that looking more like a majority opinion. On the other hand, sometimes one shouldn’t give such an opinion the dignity or recognition of a response. It’s often a waste of energy.

  2. I know that when I’ve felt anxious about a post or comment I’ve made, it’s time to have a few days’ rest. Blogging is like any other social media, with the same mental health issues, although, as you say, other forms are often more judgemental.

  3. In almost nine years of blogging, I have only had two trolls. (Pretty good, considering) The first one I debated with, as I didn’t know any better then. The latest one (March/April 2021) was immediately Spammed and Deleted without any reply or acknowledgement from me. I will never let myself debate with them again, life’s too short.
    Best wishes, Pete.

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