Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The misery of internet trolls

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One of the things that comes along with building a successful blog is that there are bound to be a few internet trolls. For those of you who don't know, the term "trolls" is used for abusive internet users who spew hateful, offensive, derogatory, misogynist and racist comments. I'm not talking about people who disagree with the opinions on certain posts - I'm talking about people who disagree with your very existence on Earth.

These trolls see themselves as vigilantes - they specifically abuse the internet because their own lives are so miserable that they cannot bear to focus on themselves. Make no mistake though, these trolls are actually your biggest fans in disguise! They eagerly await new posts and new information about your life so that they can spew more hate. The only difference is that these types of people are so mentally unstable that they cannot dare NOT spew hate - probably due to the lack of mental health resources that are available on a global scale. These trolls seem to feel secure in the anonymity of the internet (or so they think they are anonymous...) To be frank, they are very troubled people.

There is a huge problem on the internet with women getting cyber-bullied - especially by misogynists. Of course, I didn't realize that until I started my blog. The mere fact of a woman giving herself a voice is threatening to a lot of people - more than you would ever think. A woman writing about culture, current events, her family, her life, her opinions....is extremely threatening to the types of people who prefer women "to sit down and shut up" or "to be seen but not heard". 

The way these misogynistic trolls spew hate against women is disgusting - but it is quite typical of the criticism women have to face on a daily basis when they dare to speak up. They like to classify women by their looks ("ugly", "fat"); by disrespecting her intelligence ("dumb", "useless"); by shutting down her opinions ("shut up", "beat your brains for talking"); by insulting her confidence ("full of it", "get over yourself"), by questioning her character ("you're faking it", "you're pretending"); and by defining her as a sexual object ("prostitute", "whore"). And on top of that, if you are an intercultural blogger - the racism element is added.

So, what is the goal of these internet trolls? WHY do they victimize over and over, with every new post? WHY do they even bother to victimize when you don't even read or publish their comments? It's simple... To shut you down. To force you into hiding. To make you feel unsafe. To always look over your shoulder. TO CONTROL YOU. Why? Because they can't deal with your life. They are addicted to your life, but can't emotionally deal with it at the same time. They want to be you. Their comments aren't creative at all - it's the same crap over and over. They literally add nothing to any discussion because they are so miserable!

I can't even write a recipe post without getting some sort of death threat, against me AND my 17 month old daughter (Husband-ji is noticeably immune). The comments range from "I hope your marriage gets ruined", "your daughter is a little slut in the making"; "too bad you didn't die in the hospital"; "hope your MIL faces shame in India for picking a foreign slut DIL"; "your husband couldn't find an Indian girl so he picked you up cuz you kept slobbering over him, you filthy elephant"; "don't be so confident, you're useless and stupid"; "you look like a cheap hooker"; you pretend you like Indian culture because you know you'll never be good enough"; "you're a delusional waste of flesh"; "you need your fat, ugly face beaten til your brains spill out"; "you deserve to die"  - all of this, mind you, is from ONE person!

Oh, the endless time they have...! As my dear MIL says - "do they have no other work?"

There are so many bloggers that I know - that have been essentially shut down by these trolls. Even incredibly successful bloggers. Because they just get to a point where they can't deal with it anymore. For some, each comment is like a dagger in their heart - bringing up repressed personal insecurities. Because - let's face it - life's pretty tough already - without the criticism...

And me? Well, I'm not going to do that. I'm not going to give these hateful people the satisfaction. Hell no. In fact, with every hateful comment, I feel stronger. So, dear trolls...your goals are actually working against you...so you'd better get another hobby! Because I sure as hell ain't backing down! People can attempt to victimize me, but I'm the heroine of my own story - and I'm the only person who can define myself. I'm going to live my life the way I want to, and no armchair asshole is going to force me into submission (I mean, what is this? Fifty shades of grey? LOL!)

I love to write. I feel a sense of freedom when I write. I feel like I have a voice when I write. I get to know myself through my writing. And I love the other interaction with other like-minded individuals. And no, I couldn't give a crap what others think. I'm honest, and I'm brave, and I'm real...and that affects people. Besides, for every one troll there are 20,000 supporters. Literally

As the one half of an intercultural couple, we have gotten so much hate and doubt from day one. So much drishti and evil eye - there ain't even enough chillies and lime to cover it! Everyone wished us ill. Nobody thought we would last. And guess what? We did. And all the negative comments only made us stronger. Each hateful comment threw us into each other's arms and find solace in each other - finding comfort in each other. It made us immune to everything going on around us. It made us appreciate what we have more. And as a Whindian couple - as an absolute minority in the intercultural couples spectrum - there is always A LOT going on around us.

The reason why I'm writing this post is to EXPOSE the amount of internet abuse that myself and my fellow women bloggers have to endure. Yes, this kind of vile crap is out there. And yes, just because you're a woman with a different skin color than your husband - you will be on the receiving end of some of this - that's the sick reality. But alas, if you can learn to ignore it, keep reporting it, compare notes with fellow bloggers, AND at least find some humor in it - then you can learn to not let it bother you, as hateful as it is. As a woman, the worst thing you can do is to let it control the way you live your life... to retreat into hiding and feel ashamed - this is what these people want. Misogyny does not like a woman who is fearless, and unapologetically herself. They do not like it when a woman is in control of her own life - when a woman in a public setting positively affects other women and men. It threatens them to the very core.

I encourage all writers to stand together in solidarity - to tell your story, to be fearless, to be honest and unfiltered - and to not let this dying breed of misogynistic, racist internet abusers sway you. They are powerless and cowardly hiding behind their computers, reveling in their own anonymity. The world is changing - they are a minority - and we, as outspoken women are past the point of "shutting up". We aren't going to shut up about our lives, our families, our triumphs or mistakes. We're not going anywhere, and the only thing we are going to be influenced by... is the strength and bravery in each other.



(A hilarious, upbeat video on bloggers fighting back against internet trolls)

Related articles:
Online abuse against women: "free speech" is no justification
How to bait and catch the anonymous person harassing you on the internet

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So, what do you think, dear readers? Have any of my fellow bloggers had to deal with internet trolls? Why do people waste their time spewing hate over the anonymity of the internet? Who is with me in NOT BACKING DOWN?


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38 comments

  1. Wow! I have never faced trolling such as that. I had a slight issue with some MRAs a little while back but I have been immune to the intercultural relationship blog trolls, and didn't know they existed, except of course for the one we all know about and make fun of ;)

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    1. Ugh, I have some MRA trolls from SouthWest Delhi who literally write comments as if they are drinking and typing! Before blogging, I didn't even know there was such a thing as men's rights activists - absolutely absurd!! Of course they come over to a womans blog and complain that she is promoting equal rights to rights that they have always had! LOL
      Oh yes, the comments I gave examples of in the post is from the notorious lunatic...everyone is just waiting for her to be institutionalized ;)

      Delete
  2. As a white American woman married to an Indian Kashmiri Muslim I have to agree.
    (I get the added bonus of Islamophobia since my husband's a Kashmiri Muslim- yes, now I'm 'Jihad Jane' since my husband is some obviously a murderous Al Qaeda terrorist.)
    I don't back down either.
    And the worst part I've noticed is that most of these misogynistic Islamophobic racist trolls are Indians.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I noticed quite a few trolls were Indians that came to my blog as well. I'm sure they were attracted to us only because of the India factor in our lives but boy were they stupid people! I think ignorance is the biggest factor in the birth of a troll. It's just such a shame they can't be smart enough to get a life and a job so they don't have to stare at a computer screen all day. :P

      Delete
    2. @Bibi - god, I can only imagine - you're a triple whammy! (woman, intercultural, islamic) I have also noticed that ALL of my misogynistic commenters are from the motherland. No coincidence!
      Give the link to your blog, I'd love to read!

      Delete
    3. It is quite paradoxical to be honest. On the one hand these internet trolls ACTUALLY wish they had the opportunity of making the choice your husbands have and quite jealous/envious of the fact that its not them, on the other hand they just love to hate on any culture that is foreign cos it makes them feel superior in some way.

      Its beyond ridiculous of a lot of these morons feel the have save their so called esteemed Indian culture, and how do they go about it, by being racist, hate mongers, sexists, misogynists.... Like sure that definitely puts India in the best of light NOT

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    4. Alexandra-
      My blog is actually a professional pharmacology blog- I doubt you'd be interested.
      But does makes it all the more interesting that I STILL get the Indian misogynistic/ racist/Islamophobe trolls- most of whom are MD's & phD's (or both).
      I'd love to have a blog on Indian cooking (which I love) and being in an intercultural relationship but I just don't have the patience to deal with the troll BS.
      By the way I think your blog is one of the best written & most interesting on being in an intercultural family I've read- Keep up the good work!

      Delete
    5. @bibi - I can't believe that - have they no shame? I swear to god these trolls think they are internet vigilantes - what they are is total mosquitoes!!! I'm not shocked at all that they are highly educated - some of the worst people I know are!
      That is so cool that you are in Pharmacology! Small world, my FIL is in that field also.
      Yes, keeping up with the trolls can get time-consuming, but as soon as I see any words like "slut" etc, I just delete. I don't even read them anymore. If you do ever decide to start one, I'd love to read :)
      And thank you SO SO SO much for the wonderful compliment. It absolutely made my day!!!!!!

      Delete
  3. What a bunch of losers lol. Their lives must really suck if they resort to threatening a little baby. Pathetic. Good thing there are plenty of awesome people like you in the world, or else we'd still be stuck with views like your troll.

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    1. Yes, the threats to my daughter are extremely disturbing - wishing her to die, hoping her head gets smashed open "like a watermelon", or calling her the names of a prostitute - she is only a year and a half. Literally messages every day! It's a woman writer too, so I suspect she has very extreme, unstable baby envy.

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    2. Oh dear god.

      No one with good values would ever say such things about a child.

      I wonder if there is anything you can do about Internet stalking and harassment, but seeing as you are in Canada and your harasser is in the US, I am not sure about that. :(

      Delete
    3. @andrea - ugh, I know...really shows their true character. I have contacted the police already and am saving all the documentation. Every time they threaten we get more info about them, all the clues lead...
      They will get it back one way or another, I believe in karma, and I believe when people talk crap they take it upon themselves. Until then they are rotting in a hell of their own making!

      Delete
  4. I agree. We can't let our voices be shut down by a troll, a jackass, a rotten snotty moron or anyone else around us. Our lives and our voices are ours and no one else has any rights over them unless we want them to and like you, I don't intend to give anyone that kind of power over me.

    ReplyDelete
  5. There always will be miserable people that want to spread their misery to others as that seems to be the only way they get satisfaction out of life when in reality they are the biggest losers out there. They remind me of what I call "The Fantasy Facebook Fan Club". You know? Those people on Facebook that pretend to have this fabulous, successful life when in reality they have nothing going for except having people "befriending them" and follow every move they make with the " # people likes"... Is really sad. So internet troll: GET A LIFE PLEASE AND LET OTHERS LIVE THEIRS IN PEACE!!!!

    Millie B

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    1. I so agree. It is so hateful and crappy, they only don't start a blog because they have nothing to write about because they are too busy stalking others!

      Delete
  6. Really, these trolls have no better work. I say we should not shut up. If these miserable hateful people can have a voice, nice people should also have a voice. The world needs nice people than trolls like that.

    I have not experienced terrible trolling like you on my blog - because I am more on the anonymous side - I bet trolling would increase exponentially if I were to put up my name & photo for sure. Trolling in real life - oh yes.

    Really, I think these people are jobless. Imagine, if all there trolls were working on something productive? Where would India be?

    ReplyDelete
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    1. I totally agree, and it is always the do-gooders that get shut down by the creeps. F* them!
      I notice the anonymous bloggers get a lot less trolls. As a woman, people like to pick apart our looks, so posting pics gives them something to criticize more. I could care less, beauty is in the eye of the beholder; and I would rather be judged by my writing than appearance. But on the flip side, I have a deeper connection with the nice readers because providing pictures makes them feel connected to our blended family.
      Definitely jobless, that's for sure....and sad too.

      Delete
  7. Well said Alex, and in solidarity. The problem is far deep than a 'few trolls' - of course there's going to be trolls. But it's amazing how almost all, if not all, made horribly misogynistic comments - just reflects the general mindset in our horribly misogynist and patriarchal mindset. That's the point people often miss.

    I've had far less trolls myself as a man, but to be fair I've just started blogging a few months back. But the insults I've gotten on FB are often how I'm a "femslave" and a "dickless woman". Because what could be worse than being a woman? That's the ultimate insult.

    I should thank these douchebags for constantly reminding me of the horrible misogyny, though.

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    1. I totally agree, I feel like under the cloak of anonymity of the trolls, they are more uninhibited to share their true feelings - which is quite shocking. They know that if they were to give a name then they would be arrested already for death threats.
      It is definitely a reminder that people like us need to keep talking, and keep doing what we're doing, and talk as loud as we can.

      Delete
  8. I am against calling women names just because she expressed her views. But there is a crucial difference between how men and women react to situations. Men are more aggressive in putting their views across. It is nature, can't help it. The women blogger/writer misinterprets this aggression and believe that they are being targeted because they are women. A slight aggression on a man's part is enough to brand him as misogynist. This is why most men avoid speaking about women's issues and prefer to go with the flow.

    Suppose two lawyers, one male and the other one female, are arguing a case in court. They attack each other with arguments. There nobody accuses the male to be misogynist, but the same argument does not hold true in cyberspace. If I do not agree with your views, I have every right to argue with you aggressively and convince you, provided that I do not cross the line and attack you personally. If I do not agree with you, I will fight you tooth and nail. Your freedom of expression runs parallel to mine. I look at a blogger and a writer as an individual and not a representative of a particular gender. A blog is a forum for exchange of ideas where different ideas collide to form a new way of thinking. Where is the fun, if everybody is nodding in unison.

    I am against these internet trolls, but I am all for those sensitive men who may come across less than articulate due to their command over english or these inability to express themselves. If all men started avoiding women blogs out of this fear, then it will be a great misfortune.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. There is a difference between aggression and disrespectful. Aggression can be passionate about a particular subject, which is good. Misogyny is not limited to men only, there are also women misogynists. You'd be surprised to know that the troll that I gave examples of in the post is a woman. She doesn't want other women to have a voice, especially about intercultural topics.
      I like a good-old fashioned, clean debate. But I will not tolerate constant name calling, which quite frankly, is unintelligent and has nothing to add to a conversation, which is why I don't publish those ones.

      Delete
    2. @Anonymous: I love how most of you trolls, often troll most blogs, posts, articles etc under 'anonymous' titles or nonsensical 'pseudo names'.

      Kindly quit speaking for ALL men, cos NO we are not all aggressive, that is NOT our natural state, being aggressive is matter of choice of behavior that can be used for the right and wrong reasons by any person regardless of their sex.

      You are definitely a misogynist if your line of argument is to disrespect another individual for their views by making personal attacks or just being plain abusive rather than make an actually make an effort at intelligent argument.

      And NO being abusive is NOT a right, telling that it is a valid form of aggression does NOT make it your right or okay.

      Yes lawyers can argue in court but there is an etiquette there you cannot sit and hurl abuses at each other, there is no name calling, if lawyers do that they are held in contempt of court.

      Being inarticulate in English is YOUR fault and not the fault of the blogger in question, Your inability to express yourself is not the responsibility of the blogger, if you cannot argue a point sensibly and intelligently its best that you avoid forums in English.

      Delete
  9. i have disagreed with your views on this blog without any abuse or disrespect in past but u still have not posted those views.i think
    you too are the kind of person who can't stand opposing views

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Clearly, disagreeing without being disrespectful is a skill that you have not yet mastered. I'm not going to tolerate rude comments or name calling towards myself or my other readers.
      You may get away with it on other blogs, but not on mine. This is my turf and you will be respectful if you want your comments published.

      Delete
    2. really which are those comments where i have name called or things like that.i've already stated i never used abusive language.
      but its your blog & you are free to allow or block comments.

      Delete
    3. @anonymous - being disrespectful is not limited to the use of swear words, there are other ways. And how am I supposed to know which ones are yours if you do not leave a name.

      Delete
    4. Alexandra - don't waste your time and energy trying to explain to someone who clearly just wants to stir the pot, how people should behave and treat each other in a civilized society. Not worth the effort.

      People like this never get it specially over the internet. I would like for one of these people to do this face to face to someone. The reality is that they probably don't have the cojones to do it so where they go to do it: THE INTERNET!!!

      Millie B

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    5. @Millie - Well said!!!
      One of my friends was getting harassed badly by this very hateful internet troll, then she found their info online & decided to phone them up after receiving death threats etc. She said the troll was a total soft-spoken, sensitive creep....and then after they got off the phone, the troll went on a total rampage online! LOL total weirdos, with the internet they have instant balls

      Delete
  10. And I am sorry Anonimous but this right here is part of the issue. You wrote:

    "If I do not agree with your views, I have every right to argue with you aggressively and convince you, provided that I do not cross the line and attack you personally. If I do not agree with you, I will fight you tooth and nail"

    What is needed to be done here is a "we agree to disagree and move on". Respect other people's views even if they are not your own and viceversa. There is no need to try to aggresively change anyone's opinion or the need to fight tooth and nail anyone that those not agree with your views. Jeez!!!!

    Millie B

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    Replies
    1. Exactly! Whatever happened to "agree to disagree"! People will not change unless they are open and/or have walked in another's shoes.

      Delete
  11. I found a good article, posted a link on my blog about internet trolls...it's always been a kind of 'no win' situation, but the author has great answers, loved it....

    http://brajasorensen.com/2013/11/25/the-truth-about-facebook/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Great post! Yes, it is a no-win, uncontrollable situation...I have noticed trolls have their phases. The dilemma is always - do I address it or ignore it? It's a hard situation.

      Delete
  12. Replies
    1. Thanks so much! All of us bloggers are in this together ;) LOL

      Delete
  13. I was featured on the Huffington Post a while back, writing about questions that interracial couples are tired of hearing ("but what about the children?" and "Aren't you worried about [insert racial stereotype]?")

    The trolling backlash I got from that post was ridiculous. Mind you, 95% was positive. But that 5% called me everything under the sun (whore, slut, Asian fetish, I hope you get hit by a bus, typical white girl thinking she's special, people like you are the reason I hate Americans, I hope you die, I hope your marriage fails, etc)

    It was kind of crazy. I mean I had gotten hate mail because of my interracial marriage before, but this was a new low.

    I wrote about it (and my decision to continue blogging) here:
    http://howibecametexan.com/2014/03/08/the-emotional-cost-of-blogging-the-not-so-secret-downside-to-writing-about-your-life-on-the-internet/

    I loved this post, though. Thank you for writing it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I loved that article! I shared it on my facebook page! I am flattered that you are reading my blog! You're like famous!
      I have gotten troll messages like that too. I guess the trolls come after you as a sign that you've made it as a blogger LOL. Ugh. Not many people understand because we do not publish the troll comments so it is like an invisible terrorism :(

      Delete

Respectful comments only, please! (That means you, anonymous.)

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