Daily Reads: Feeding the Trolls

When I first discovered the website Jezebel, the writer Lindy West quickly became one of my favorite contributors. She is fiercely intelligent, incredibly funny, and delightfully straightforward. I loved everything she wrote for Jezebel. Lindy has moved on to writing for The Guardian, and in this piece she talks about what it is like to be targeted by online trolls. Most of you already know this, but an internet troll is a person who leaves anonymous comments, tweets, or emails that are meant to insult or provoke. Trolls can be incredibly vicious and degrading, and for West, who frequently writes about feminism, the trolls are also virulently misogynistic. She writes that she has developed armor to help protect her from commenters who talk about how they want to rape or kill her, but she also acknowledges the heavy burden these trolls place on her and her colleagues. The story West has to tell is disturbing but also, potentially, hopeful – it involves how she ended up having a long conversation with one of her trolls who had come to recognize the error of his ways. West does more than write about this remorseful troll – she also did a piece on her experience with him for This American Life, which you can listen to here. West’s article and the radio piece are really about much more than just her particular trolls; they are about the breakdown in civility that can occur in the modern online world, and what can happen when people are given anonymity. I think it is an important read.

What happened when I confronted my cruellest troll

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