Expert Thoughts

How To Cope With The Shit Trolls Say Behind That Cozy Veil Of Online Anonymity

"It’ll be just like Kimmel’s Mean Tweets, but with no famous people"
Ms. Bertliet reading trolls' mean comments in her "Shit Trolls Say" video (Screengrab: YouTube)

Ms. Bertliet reading trolls’ mean comments in her “Shit Trolls Say” video (Screengrab: YouTube)

In general, I don’t mind dissenting opinions because I understand that aiming or expecting to please everyone would be foolish. Aristotle said: “To avoid criticism, say nothing, do nothing, be nothing.” As a writer whose work is often extremely personal and arguably quite provocative, I would even concede that I invite disapproval and ire to a certain extent.

But there’s a difference between expressing impassioned opposition and being downright rude. And while it’s easy to intellectualize that Internet trolls’ heinous remarks should be dismissed automatically, responses that are crueler than constructive have a way of sticking in your brain goo no matter what. After reading that you’re “a fucking cunt of a whore” or “destined to crisp like a Frito in the fiery depths of hell,” it’s tough not to incorporate such hateful slogans into the soundtrack of your day, which is inevitably damaging psychologically. Aha! The Internet troll’s intended purpose? Perhaps. But I’d like to believe we’re not that awful a species.

Many have asked whether the cozy veil of online anonymity mostly encourages well-intentioned truth telling—which can be productive to society, as difficult as it is to swallow honesty sometimes—or mostly emboldens people to act like assholes. With the advent of popular gossip apps like Whisper and Secret, this debate is now more relevant than ever, though resolution is unlikely as long as we’re all a click or two away from creating countless fake email accounts. In any case, there’s a reason why smart people like Tina Fey avoid social media altogether, and why a lowly writer like myself navigating the nooks and crannies of the public domain tends to self-protect by avoiding comments sections.

Recently, though, I devised a Jimmy Kimmel inspired theory about the shit trolls say: With a few alterations in context and some tweaking in tone, it might all start to sound innocuous—even funny.

Please watch as I test this hypothesis. It’ll be just like Kimmel’s Mean Tweets, but with no famous people—just me, your regular “self-absorbed, untalented, trashy little writer failing daily at relevance.” And yes, user “A,” I’m still shilling the book along the way!

Thus I present: Shit Trolls Say.

PS: To those fixated on the Karmic inevitability that my boyfriend will cheat on me, trust that I appreciate the risk, but know that I’m happy to take it rather than risk a life without him.

Mélanie Berliet is a WRITER, PRODUCER, HUMAN (in that order); author of Surviving in Spirit available here.

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