Calling Me Ugly For Voicing An Opinion Isn’t Okay

Dear trolls, learn some manners.

When I voice an opinion, I certainly don’t expect everyone to agree with me. Plenty of my views go against the flow, and I brace myself for comebacks as soon as I let them swim out of my head.

If I say “I’m not a feminist, I’m an equalist”, for instance; healthy, calm, respectful discussion could include chewing over terms such as ‘humanist’ and ‘egalitarianism’.

However, no matter how controversial my opinion is or how fiercely you disagree with it, it is never, ever acceptable to hurl abuse, asinine comments or nasty personal insults at me.

You cannot call me ugly, you have no right to call me fat, and you most certainly have no justification for saying “The world would be better off without you”. Yet all of these are examples of venomous responses I’ve received after voicing my opinion. I’ve actually been called a lot worse, but I’m not going to repeat them here as I don’t believe hideous foul-mouthed vitriol is required for me to make my point.

Every day, similar comments are hatefully hurled across school playgrounds all over the world. The offender with the hostile mouth is dragged to the head teacher’s office, where it is explained that this is not a civilized way to interact with another person. Most are given detention and some learn the difference between contempt and communication – but plenty don’t. They grow up (well, they get older while remaining immature), finish school and graduate to be internet trolls who don’t have head teachers to call them on their actions anymore. They roam free through the web for hours just looking for confrontation, carrying a backpack filled with data to keep them sustained.

Unfortunately, in the web of webs they are faceless and don’t even need to have the audacity to look someone in the eye when they fire out maliciousness.

Trolls, let’s be clear: in the high-rise of debate, you haven’t even cleared the basement. The rest of us have educated ourselves, practised our communication since we graduated from school and are functioning merrily on level 10. You need to catch up.

If you come at me with immature insults on social media, I won’t entertain you with a Twitter war; that would make me no better than you, and why would I waste my time trying to achieve that? My Facebook page has thought-provoking pieces for people to read and photos of sunrises and beaches to enjoy – your garbage has no place there, so stay away, because this is a land of zero tolerance.

I will simply use my superpower and block you (something you will learn about when you pass the ground level). As other people start to do the same, you’ll find yourself stuck in the basement of the high-rise of debate with no one to bully except the other vicious trolls surrounding you. You can fight amongst yourselves in the dungeon, scratching around for crumbs of stale bread in the dark, while we’re on the roof terrace eating delicious canapés in the sunshine.

What the rest of us must keep in mind is that the word ‘trolling’ actually comes from a fishing technique in which you cast out bait to catch fish. This is exactly what internet trolls are after; they make rude, annoying statements to try to lure us in. They try to provoke us into losing our cool, storming to the elevator with our canapés and angrily pressing the ‘B’ button repeatedly to go and have our say. But they are not worth our time – and, besides, the view is better where we are and the food is much classier.

Do not get in the elevator with your tasty snacks in hand. Do not feed the trolls.

Comment: Have you ever trolled someone? Why did you do it?