When I see all of the hate and meanness and vitriol that people feel incredibly free to post on a daily basis, I just want to ask the people posting them these questions:
Do you really have nothing better to do with your time?
Does doing this kind of thing actually make you feel good about yourself?
Do you care that you are contributing to the world around you in a negative way instead of a positive way?
What do you want your tombstone to read? I was an Internet Troll who used the precious time I had here on Earth to spew forth criticism and nastiness? In other words, I made the world a worse place instead of a better place?
I don’t get it. I will never understand why some people feel an overwhelming need to state their negative and discouraging opinions for total strangers to read, for the purpose of…I’m not really sure what the purpose of these comments is.
I remember thinking about this when Kelly Clarkson posted a video of her young daughter trying Nutella for the first time. It was a sweet little “slice of life” moment that she wanted to share because it made her so happy. She got slammed in the comments from people who disparaged her as a parent with horrible, denigrating language, she got lectured from “well-meaning” people about the nutritional content of the spread, equating it with poison, and she got condemned overall from thousands of people who believed that they knew better and wanted to make sure she knew about it.
Why were these comments necessary? Why did these people feel the need to denounce a fellow human being for her non-harmful actions? (And yes, while Nutella is not a nutritious food to be consuming on a regular basis, a tablespoon of it on a piece of wheat toast is not going to hurt an otherwise healthy person.) When there are real injustices going on around us we NEED to speak up and speak out against them. But this situation, and the countless others that happen every day on the internet, I do not believe are worthy of people’s overt shaming and hostility.
I have to assume that the trolls of the world are supremely unhappy with the state of their lives and the act of putting others down somehow makes them feel better and more superior to the people they are denouncing. But then I wonder, does it really? When schoolyard bullies are talked to later in their lives about how they felt while tormenting other children, they all say that it actually make them feel worse. Maybe in the moment it made them feel good about themselves, but that feeling was quickly replaced by remorse and sorrow for doing what they knew was wrong and for the knowledge in their hearts they hurt another person.
Whatever the reason, what I really want to say to these trolls is that I wish they would find a better use of their time. Surely they have dreams of things they want to do in their lives - what if they took all of the time that they now use to scroll through social media posts and make snarky comments on them, and instead used that time to pursue one or more of those longed for goals. Maybe it’s writing a novel, maybe it’s becoming a fashion designer, or a a chef, or a doctor, or firefighter, or a landscape architect. Whatever that dream is, if they added up all of the time they have spent - make that WASTED - looking at other people’s lives and remarking maliciously on them, how much could they have accomplished toward making those dreams a reality?
It seems to me, that the people who publish nasty comments online do not have the courage to do anything else. They live their lives self-righteously and timorously, blaming other people for their unfortunate choices or disappointing outcomes. But just because their life hasn’t turned out the way you expected or how they wanted, that does not give anyone the right to be mean or deprecating toward another human being.
So what I would say to the trolls of the world is this: Have enough going on in your own life that you do not have time to examine anyone else’s nor feel the overwhelming need to put them down. Be pursuing your own dreams and goals so that you are fulfilled enough in your brain, your mind, and your heart without having to look elsewhere for validation or acceptance. When you find yourself staring at a screen for hours at a time, living vicariously through others, ask yourself what you would rather be doing. And whatever that is, DO IT INSTEAD.
If you’re reading this, I’m guessing that you are someone who seeks happiness and positivity in your life and you do not spend time trolling. But if you know people who do choose to spend their time like that, then feel free to ask them what’s making them happy right now, or how their goals are coming along. That might be the wake up call they need to help get themselves out of the rut they have gotten themselves into, which is an easy place to get to and to stay safely ensconced within.
Our time on the Earth is short. Do any of us really want to be spending it confined within the cages of our own cowardice, deliberately spreading hate and malignity from the small dark cells of our opinionated minds? Or do we want to spend it seeking what brings us joy, outside of a phone or computer screen, and regardless of what other people are doing with their own lives?
A troll is just an anonymous bully. Who wants that on their resume or as an answer to the question “What do you do?” I think a better answer is, “I do what I can to seek happiness and self-fulfillment and to make the world around me a better place.”
What’s your answer?