Reading the Trolls [speech]

16 Oct

So about a month ago, I had to call the police. It turns out someone is stealing my mail and it took me about 7 months to work it out as I like to pretend mail, like deadlines and responsibility, don’t exist. It was only when my mail was getting ripped up and strewn across the apartment complex in increasingly complicated origami-like fashion that I begrudgingly called the cops.

The policeman took it all very seriously and asked questions. The only question that stumped me was when he asked “does anyone dislike you?”

“Well, I write opinion pieces on the Internet.”

He seemed incredibly confused on this point until I explained my job where I write on small, esoteric or larger issues and that, like a gift with purchase, I get hatemail. He was concerned a commenter might have been responsible for my stolen or destroyed mail. It’s unlikely, I said – the troll only wants to say something. That’s their only objective.

Here is what they say (they often parrot each other). Revel in the Oxfordesque debateyness of it all:

  • “Fat, ugly mole”
  • “You were only hired because you’re young and pretty and don’t have grey hair”
  • “You hate sex, you’re a fucking prude”
  • “You are just another bi polar whore who sluts and sucks dick for cash and free drinks, ugly pig”

As someone who has writer about her child I’ve received a new area of trolls. People trolling a nine year old who has no account on social media.

  • “You’re one of those losers who use their kids to fuel their career”
  • “I work in child protection and if I was in the same state as you, I’d make sure your child was taken away from you”
  • “You’re the worst fucking mother for trying to brainwash your child”
  • “Your daughter is ugly”
  • “I want to fuck your daughter” – multiple pedophile accounts on Twitter

I haven’t heard from the guy who emails feminist parenting writers and threatens to kill their daughters (it’s only ever the daughters) but I’m guessing its only a matter of time.

So, um, that’s a positive, right? Or not? I’ve not yet been contacted by the troll with homicidal fantasies. Am I really a proper feminist parenting writer if my daughter hasn’t received a death threat? Do I have troll KPIs still to smash?

I do get some special emails. One was from a guy who I had blocked when he became aggressive ape when discussing the gender pay gap. He railed against me – you’re so fucking bitchy for blocking me. Who the fuck do you think you are, you power tripper. Unblock me now, I have the RIGHT to read your twitter stream.

The rest are generalist trolls – the orange creams in the family biscuit barrel of insults – misandrist! Why do you hate men! I’ll show you what my cock can do! I wouldn’t put my cock in you, You hate men, are bitter about men, can’t find a man, men hate you, fat, slut, whore, hate sex, breaker of families and responsible for gender bias within Australian Family Law, know nothing writer whose recent piece on sexism within the digital industry was fueled by pleasure-hating feminism and not experience of 15 years in the industry. I murder babies!  Personally! It’s just me, Satan and a coat hanger of hope. (Guess who wrote about abortion?)

I’m waiting to hear why my words upset people so much. Maybe its because I have a vagina which people on the Internet tell me should be filled with various things. It could be that I’m a really bad writer – a distinct possibility, judging from the responses I’ve received which means I have become a pawn in a shadowy conspiracy to bring down Fairfax and the Guardian with crap editorial. Perhaps they aren’t trolls at all but glorious freedom fighters trying to talk to me in code, where “the resistance needs your help” is expressed as  “my cock will set you straight, you dumb bitch”

I didn’t explain it to the policeman but the trolls aren’t stealing my mail. It’s someone else who takes a particular degree of pleasure in tearing up party invites, stealing bank statements and my copy of the London Review of Books (to be fair, I’m a subscriber and have it coming). But still, I get to enjoy a new display of ripped paper every morning I step outside which is infinitely more creative than that time Andrew Bolt got all his followers to yell at me for using collective personal pronoun  “we” in an article.

This was a prepared speech for the National Young Writers Festival.

One Response to “Reading the Trolls [speech]”

  1. Shain Ellison Thomas October 29, 2013 at 3:45 am #

    Reblogged this on the harsh light of day….

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