There are definitely harder jobs than writing for the internet. Bricklayers, those guys who sweep battlefields for land mines, rape crisis counselors, and Lindsay Lohan’s assistants all have it much worse than I do. The only thing that keeps me in the running for “Most Hazardous Profession” is the comments section of my articles.
As physically demanding, low paying, and thankless as it is to pick strawberries for a living, no one is going to call you a “retard” or publicly wish you were dead because they don’t like how you pick strawberries. Maybe that sort of thing does happen, but I’m not privy to it. If you pick strawberries for a living, please email me at your earliest convenience.
When your job is to engender passionate reactions, it shouldn’t be surprising when some of those reactions are negative. If you write an article about how you believe all women should be stay-at-home mothers and gender equality is a sin, you should be prepared to get a tiny bit of backlash. You kind of asked for it.
Of course, even with the most vile, moronic opinions, chances are very good that at least a few people will agree with you. I’m sure if I wrote a think piece on why all cute puppies should be euthanized on live TV, someone would email me saying, “Thank you for finally speaking the truth! Cute dogs truly are the worst! Everything about them makes me physically ill, especially that part about how adorable/cuddly/huggable they are!”
In the old days, maybe you’d get hate mail sent to the newspaper or magazine where you worked. It was received and sorted by someone else. You didn’t have to open it. Hardly anyone would ever see the letter unless your editor chose to print it. Now, writing is just one step of a long, torturous process; a vulgar pantomime where you play the Fool, dancing for the whims of the cruel monarch known as Public Opinion.
I suppose it’s the only way to balance out the ego-driven aspects of internet writing. Everyone craves positive feedback, demands more likes/shares/tweets to justify the career choice they’ve made. And yet, without a stranger telling you that you suck occasionally, there’s no check on the narcissism that is inherent in the act of expression. We actually need the trolls.
There’s that phrase, “I feed off my haters,” which is usually deployed by attention-seekers and dickheads as a way to justify the fact that their work is solely for the purpose of upsetting people. That’s not what I’m referring to. I mean to say that trolls keep us from developing an inflated sense of self that is the dark side of even a modicum of renown.
We shouldn’t avoid having our feelings hurt. In the real world, interactions are not always positive, so why should they be online? Granted, some troll comments can be especially hateful, and others can border on violent. Still, I can survive being called a piece of shit. It’s happened enough times, mostly with ex-girlfriends or their parents.
So, don’t feel bad about insulting me in the comments on this article. If you want to, please do so. Actually, if you don’t want to, do it anyway. I need you, troll. You sustain me, and you prevent me from getting complacent. The service you provide is one that practically anyone can learn to master, and it requires no skill of any kind, but that doesn’t make it any less necessary. Anyone can pick strawberries, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth doing. To be fair, just about anyone can be an internet writer too. Have you seen some of these websites?
So please, keep trolling. Call me a bald asshole (even though I’m not bald). Say that you want to poop in my mouth to shut me up. Tell me about how I’m untalented. This is a mitzvah, an act of kindness, and a duty that all users of the internet must respect. As a matter of fact, I’m declaring May 6th “National Troll Appreciation Day.” Everyone, go find the nearest troll and let them know you care. Let them know you believe in them.
Of course, the minute you repair the damaged self-esteem of a troll, reach out to them, and treat them like real people, they cease to be a troll. I guess this is one of those Catch-22s. Never mind.