My First Internet Troll

Written By Erica Orr

Almost to the date I decided to quit my job and start my own business, I was punched in the face with my first social media troll. I made a post on Facebook advertising my services on how I help artists build, grow and expand their business and I was so happy to see support from friends and family with hearts and thumb up reactions but then I see the “haha” face in the lower left side of the post. When I first saw it, I was confused on why this reaction would be on my post. Who would react to my post with the laughing face? Why would someone react to my post in such a hurtful way?

That’s when I saw it -- my very first Internet troll and it was by someone who I considered a close friend. I was so angry, hurt, frustrated and annoyed all at the same time when I realized someone who I considered a very good friend would want to hurt me. I immediately grabbed my cell phone and began texting my friend with stern words of how he was acting like a child, how I didn’t appreciate his rude and hurtful behavior BUT before I sent it, I paused and breathed. I took a couple of deep breaths and remembered that this is what he wanted. He wanted a reaction out of me. He wanted to get me riled up and act like a crazy person so it would give him ammo to be rude and snarky with me. So I decided not to respond to him. I deleted my text message because I don’t tolerate adults (and even more importantly friends) who act like children and I refuse to have to important conversations over text messaging. So instead of texting him, I deleted him as my friend on Facebook. This may sound like a childish act but how I see it, he had decided to not be a good friend anymore.

Up until that moment, I considered this person a very close friend. We had gotten into a disagreement the month before that he was (is) still upset about. When he chose to attempt to bring me down, he had decided to ruin the trust and friendship we had. Over the years we have been each other’s cheerleader, encourage each other to stay on track with our goals, collaborate on projects, provide laugh, love and light for each other, and he decided to throw it all away over a miscommunication that could have easily be discussed and fixed in an adult and loving way.

The part that hurts me the most is the public attempt at bringing me down and trying to ruin my confidence in myself. My old feelings of insecurities started sweeping through me. I started remembering all those insecurities I felt in high school and have felt for so long and have worked so hard to conquer and release. As I started experiencing these feelings, I made it a point to consciously become aware of the feelings and feel the feelings instead of pushing them aside like I would have done in the past. When I made it a conscious decision to experience the pain and fears, I realized my old feelings of inadequacy, fear of criticism, and feelings of having to have to please everyone didn’t have a hold on me anymore. I was definitely hurt by the troll but it didn’t affect me as much as it would have like I had experienced for the last 11 to 12 years. (Yikes!)

In my eyes, this was a test from the universe to see how I would react. Would I lash out like I have done in the past? Would I blame myself for the troll’s insecurities? Would I sit in the anger or had I learned how to process feelings and react in a healthy way?

I can confidently say this troll helped me become aware of how I have grown so much as a person. Today I am more aware and knowledgeable on how to understand others on a deeper level and see beneath the hurtful words and actions of others. I also understand how important it is to not take things personally. This doesn’t mean that people should be excused for being jerks and blame me for their problems, but it does make me happier knowing and understanding when someone lashes out, there is something more underneath their words and actions that they themselves are not processing and releasing.

I still have love for my trolling friend and hope we can move past this hiccup in our relationship. It is a shame though that he believes that when he attempts to hurt me, it will make himself feel better. I forgive my friend for his actions because I have learned forgiving others is for yourself, not for the person that hurt you. Holding onto negative energy will only bring me down and I am using this experience as a way to bring me up. I am so happy to have experienced this first troll at this early in my career because I know there will always be others who will blame me for their problems and it is up to me to be the stronger person and not feed their negativity. I will be your scapegoat because I am strong enough to know and understand you are hurting and just need someone to listen.

I am here to listen.