James Burns

James Burns

Internet Trolls: Seeing the Funny Side

People love to be angry.

People in cars, on tubes, on the street – they all love a good sigh or a shout. But nobody likes being angry as much people on the internet. Oh, they could rip your face off with their rage. That is, they could if you ever met them. Which you won’t.

I have now had my first experience of the internet trolling phenomenon. You know, that thing where people who live under bridges, with surprisingly strong internet connections, leave words of hate on websites in the hopes that it will make somebody cry.

Not long after publishing a recent blog post, somebody – known only to me as Anonymous –  wrote a sweary comment to let me know that they detest my blog, that I should be ashamed of it and that – for the good of all people – I should take it down. The good thing about my blog is that I can review comments before they’re published. Unsurprisingly, I decided not to publish this one.

It was like a small but furious foot had jumped out of my smart phone and kicked me in the stomach – and it didn’t even have the decency to introduce itself first. I felt like I used to when my mum told me to stop showing off in front of my friends: red faced and ready to stomp off to bed. 

But then I slept on it. And, just as they always do, things looked a lot better in the morning.

We’ve all been there when somebody has thrown a hissy-fit because a train is too full. At first you think, “Ooh, I would not want to get on the wrong side of that shouty aggressive man – he seems proper scary.” But then, after a few minutes, you reassess: “Hang on, he’s just shouting abuse into the abyss. Nobody on this train gives two copies of the Metro what he thinks. And, hang on a jiffy; it’s not our fault that he doesn’t like the tube – why doesn’t he just get off if it’s causing him so much angst? What a giant doofus!”

If I shouted every time something I don’t like happened, I would spent ninety five per cent of my life shouting. I don’t like sport. I don’t like tea. I don’t like coffee. I don’t like fancy dress. I don’t like crab sticks. I don’t like potato salad that doesn’t come with enough mayonnaise. I don’t like being too hot. I don’t like being too cold. I live in London and I don’t like crowds. I could dedicate my entire life to rage. But what sort of life would that be?

There is a reason I’m not permanently stationed outside my local coffee shop, hurling abuse at the barista, and why I don’t feel the need to tweet Gary Lineker to tell him that, with the exception of the excellent theme tune, Match of the Day really isn’t my bag. Because it’s really easy to avoid. I can have a different type of drink. I can watch other programmes.

Statistically, most people won’t like most things on the internet. And that’s ok. I’ll be over here, writing five hundred words a week about pants and pyjamas and wedding guest lists, and you stay over there with your sci-fi, sheds and sporting equipment. We can co-exist without the need to do big swears at each other all day long.

The internet has given a voice to anybody that can type. And like all good things, if you want to, you can also use it for evil. You can use it to vent your rage at strangers, tell celebrities you hate them even though you’ve never met, and to create inventive expletives using just a hundred and forty characters. And whilst it’ll stun the recipient for a second, it can’t do much more – there are enough real people in our lives that can actually affect our mood, without making room for people who only exist as characters on a screen.

So, as the saying goes, if you don’t have anything nice to say, throw away your computer. Or, take a deep breath, google ‘20 best cat videos’, and remember that there’s really no need to be so angry.

Charlotte Reeve lives in London, spends too much time on Twitter, and blogs about all things lady related – boys, weddings, being too cold… etc. She likes staying in, sitting down, and watching Coronation Street – and occasionally going out dancing, as long as nobody touches her. You can read more of Charlotte’s thoughts on her blog Nothing Good Rhymes With Charlotte. Follow her on Twitter @CharlotteReevo

Pictured: The nicer type of troll, Charlotte Reeve

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