Last Friday Becky shared a podcast with me that she said I would find very interesting. It was an episode of This American Life from January of 2015. She thought the topic that would catch my interest the most was discussing internet trolls. The episode starts with a female comedian sharing her story of being trolled online and then she interviews her biggest troll.
I finally listened to it this morning and WOW!!! My mind was blown with the types of insults she had to deal with… and that was before someone trolled her by pretending to be her recently deceased father. After writing about the incident the troll contacted her to apologize as he realized he’d gone too far. The two of them then talked over the phone on a recorded conversation to get into his mindset of why he did what he did.
For reals, it is well worth the listen here https://www.thisamericanlife.org/545/if-you-dont-have-anything-nice-to-say-say-it-in-all-caps , or at least worth reading the transcript herehttps://www.thisamericanlife.org/545/transcript.
So here’s why I am thankful for this podcast today. It doesn’t take a long view of social media comments to see how disrespectful people can be to each other online. There’s something about the screen in between us that seems to bring out the worst in us sometimes. Personally, I know there are a few comments that I look back on and wish I wouldn’t have made. Hearing this story reminded me to pause and remember the feelings of others prior to posting. Follow that general rule of thumb of not typing anything I wouldn’t normally say in person. Pretty straightforward lesson and reminder.
Going deeper, it was interesting to get into the mindset of a troll and see why in the world they would say the things that they do. The more he explained the sicker I felt because of our society. Each explanation seemed worse than the previous, including “your happiness reminded me of my unhappiness.” The funny thing is that when I paused and looked in the mirror I know I haven’t always done well either. I wouldn’t rate them up there along with his, but I could feel some of the similarities in emotions causing the mean comments – envy, greed, loneliness, lack of confidence, and so on. When I’ve made unkind comments the source was usually an emotion tied to one of the aforementioned reasons.
The past is the past, and I focus on living in the present and moving forward. While I can’t change what I’ve said in the past I can choose my actions moving forward. The funny thing is that there is a very simple way to eliminate those negative emotions that cause the issue… gratitude. If I am focused on being thankful for what I have there is no room for those negative emotions to begin, let alone rise to the surface. Long story short, this podcast reminded me that gratitude can power our society to new highs by bringing about respectful conversation and eliminating so much unnecessary negativity.
Gratitude, the gift that keeps on giving!