A few months back I was helping a friend put together a sizzle reel of himself talking about different cultural issues that he could use to sell a reality show. So basically all of the things that can make you an annoying person in one sentence.
One of the topics he mentioned to me was online bullying, specifically the presence of an app like YikYak, an anonymous public message board, that allows people to say pretty much whatever they want. I had never heard of it. He explained that any YikYak user can bump their area’s Yak’s up or down depending on the content. After five down votes, the content is removed entirely. This does not mean that people always down vote mean stuff or that the five down votes happen immediately, especially since each up vote cancels each down vote out.
I know I’m way too old for this shit. This was the kind of stuff I started doing when I was a teen. Trolling Lite™, basically. Maybe only a couple times in middle school did I ever fuck with anyone I actually knew, I always preferred strangers, but I definitely remember changing a male classmate’s profile into 5-star pedophile bait. Back then your profile was text-only, so I had to get really creative.
I’d usually just set up camp on a message board or become a regular in a chat room, telling other users that they had “Twinkie fingers” or message random older men and told them I heard their balls smell or whatever. Basically whatever a too-virginal-to-function fourteen year old suburban girl would find funny.
But there’s a part of me that still likes to get all “Troll To Me” by Sister Hazel. I do. I think mean things are funny as long as they’re not overly personal (for a great example of this, listen to Lindy West’s story on This American Life’s “If You Don’t Have Anything Nice to Say, SAY IT IN ALL CAPS” where she confronts the troll who made a Twitter account pretending to be her dead father—his responses are pretty great, actually) and I like to shade and shit talk as much as the next person. But it’s hard to do that IRL and be healthy about it in any real way. You can only bust balls so much before you’re like, not kidding around anymore.
So I go to the world’s designated place for garbage and I do garbage things. It’s like how I go to the grocery store if I need food. If I want to rip on a bunch of randoms while I watch Real Housewives and kick off steam in other ways, then why can’t I?
I’ll leave nice or helpful comments from time to time. I left a message of encouragement for a young gay guy who wrote that his Armenian father’s strict religious beliefs made him incredibly homophobic, not that I deserve an award for that. I usually start by posting something about how I’m a man that desperately needs to get married to stay in America and I need to marry a woman but she needs to be cool with the fact that I’m possibly going to start transitioning to a female this year and we’ll need to make up a good story together.
There is nothing sexual in this for me. I need to make that clear. I am not titillated by this shit. I just want to see what people’s reactions are going to be, and often times with this story, they’re kinda into it. Sure there are a lot of homophobic reactions from people (One person was just like, “When are you going to realize that you’re a freak?” and I was HORRIFIED that someone would say that, oddly enough. I mean, considering that I am there to troll as well) but there are also a lot of chicks who would be down to marry a transitioning foreigner for zero compensation or suggestion of emotional or physical love.
I’ve also called out people in places that annoy me (“To the woman at HomeGoods smelling Yankee Candles braless—you nasty”) like it’s some sort of evil Twitter feed that I can update with all of my bitchy little thoughts. I don’t like that I do it, but there’s something fucking cathartic about it.
Oh my God, I’m a fucking Catfish.