The Rant: An Open Letter To Trolls

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Dear Troll,

First off: allow us to clarify who this letter is addressed to for readers who don’t bother with Twitter, for whom looking at newspapers this past week must have been a bewildering experience.

We are not talking to those hulking beasts of Scandinavian folklore with the noses like squashed aubergines who skulk around forests scratching their arses with fallen trees branches.

No, we’re talking to a section of society far more unpleasant than that, whose misanthropic tendencies lead them not to honourable solitude in a Paleartic tundra but the anonymity of the internet, where they channel their internal dissatisfaction into hate messages to send to strangers.

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Yes we’re talking to you there - young man (for that, sadly, is what the majority of you appear to be), hunched over your laptop, sweating in the dusty beam of your desk lamp, one hand skimming your caps lock key, the other plunged into the neglected squelch in your underwear massaging a vague and entirely pointless erection (if we can call it that) as you formulate your latest pièce de résistance on Twitter.

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It might read something like: “wouldn’t mind tying this bitch to my stove. Hey sweetheart – give me a shout when you’re ready to be put in your place”, or perhaps “Everybody jump on the rape train” or maybe just a simple “Rape rape rape rape rape rape.”

(These, by the way, were all real Tweets, sent by one of you to Caroline Criado-Perez, the campaigner who wanted a woman printed on our banknotes, which thousands of you found threatening. Quick tip: never stare too long at a postage stamp, you might wet yourself).

For the past week these witless, 140 character-high piles of cat sick you’ve coughed up between self-loathing wanks have been shaping the news agenda and forcing smart people we normally love on Twitter to howl in despair or boycott the gig altogether.

How to deal with you has become a topic of national debate, as has, in fitting with an enlightened liberal society, how to ‘understand’ you, what deeper factors drive your desire to threaten women with bombs, mock Tom Daley over his dead father or graffiti the tribute pages of murdered children.

Many writers have already correctly pointed out how sexist, cruel and maladjusted you must be (although a lot of them were women, so you probably didn’t pay much attention). On top of all of that, you’re the worst kind of coward.

Time was it, frustrated young men with nothing to do would go out, get drunk and duel each other on the streets. Not to advocate street brawls, but at least it takes character to have a dust up in person.

After the pointless anguish it causes the recipient, the truly sad thing about picking fights online is how dreadfully meek it is, how lifeless, how weak. Conjure up the baddest, nastiest words you know and arrange them in the most toxic way you can: it’s still as brave as a lamb’s fart, and you know it.

A great writer who knew a thing or two about getting in a scuffle once said: ‘always do sober what you said you’d do drunk, that way you’ll learn to keep your mouth shut’.

Well troll, how about this. Repeat one of your finest lines of Twitter abuse to someone – anyone – in real life, face-to-face.

If you can stomach the way they recoil from you in disgust like someone feeling the wetness of a slug between their toes on their way to make a cup of morning tea, then fair play to you – carry on.

Otherwise: get off the internet, and get a fucking life.

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MORE FROM THE RANT:
Enough with the babies already
Why bum cleavage has to stop 
Why hashtags must die 
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