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,
, is a gendered phenomenon."