Paid for by patrons
What We Can Learn From a Reformed Troll

The cool thing about having a blog (and a Patreon!) is that I can write about things even when they're no longer ~~~trending~~~. The This American Life episode I'm writing about here aired back in January, but I've finally put some thoughts together about it. The episode was about Lindy West and her former troll, whom she interviewed on the show.

"There is a lot to learn from the TAL episode. Although trolls/online

harassers probably have a variety of motivations, there clearly is a

subset of them that troll because they can’t or won’t deal with their

own personal issues. I want to be very careful here and not do the whole

blaming mental illness thing, but I also want to trust people who have

mental illnesses when they say that their mental illness is what

prompted them to do something shitty. That’s part of humanizing mental

illness, too–acknowledging that sometimes, especially when

untreated/unmanaged, it can cause people to act in ways that aren’t

really in accordance with who they actually want to be.

But also, you need not have a diagnosable mental illness to be in a

bad place in your head at some point in time. You need not have a

diagnosable mental illness to believe on some level that it’s okay to

outsource emotional caretaking to someone else. The common thread here

isn’t “mental illness” but “people avoiding dealing with their own

issues and taking their pain out on others,” which,

as I’ve been discussing a lot around here

, is a gendered phenomenon."