I played with my online Trolls for 72 Hours, and this is What I learned.
A couple of weeks ago I posted a video about Men, Masculinity, Fear, and Andrew Tate. It was viewed by over 10,000 people, most of whom I don't know. It became clear that many of these people didn't like what I had to say about Men, masculinity, gender roles evolving, Andrew Tate, or didn't like me in general. In the 72 hours after posting, I received a barrage of insults, mostly from private or anonymous accounts.
I received comments from @goskialready: "Witness the sac-less beta male."
Or from @noah_dittrich500: "Come on dude don't be a soy boy."
Or from @shedboss: "Say you like getting pegged without saying you like getting pegged."
Or this one from @james.troyer.52 "Sed by a beta male with a dad bod."
These were just a few of the many humans who felt empowered to sling insults from behind a keyboard at someone they didn't know because they disagreed with what I was sharing.
Part One: Getting Roasted
Not being famous, I haven't dealt much with online trolls, but having been alive, a man, and a social kid, I've spent years dealing with boys shit-talking, making fun of each other, and busting each other's balls. And for most of my life, I loved being a part of that culture of men. I have even joked that being "Roasted" is my love language.
Well, I was getting Roasted, but it mostly wasn't funny. Most of the insults stemmed from misogyny and a dated patriarchial and homophobic nature. It was sad, pathetic, and if I'm honest, a first, it was hurtful.
When the insults started pouring in, I was caught off guard. I wasn't expecting it at all. As I said, I'm not famous; most people don't know who I am, and having many random people show up on my social was a new thing. This surprise negativity felt shitty. I first sat in those feelings and wasn't exactly sure what to do. At my friend's advice, I put down my phone and went to the gym.
While I was disconnected, another part of me suddenly came to life. In Dexter, he calls it his Dark Passenger; I call it my Shadow or that part of me that I refer to as my Recovering Asshole. He came alive with a very different energy, an energy of, "Let's f*ckin Go!! I was built for this."
I spend the next three-ish days in a three-part cycle.
Part One was an experience of not wanting to give these bottom feeders something other than energy or attention. I felt myself saying, let them say what they want. Who cares. They are nobodies. They wouldn't be spending time hating if they were anyone of importance or had anything going on in their lives. I told myself to ignore them. Even Joe Rogan says, "Ignore the comments."
But it's hard to ignore them. When you check your socials, they are mixed in with people you love, care about, and those who are supportive. Ignoring them wasn't working; there was like an itch that I couldn't scratch.
Part Two: Playing
Part Two was letting my Recovering Asshole out to play. He was ready to have some fun. I came alive as soon as I started slinging insults back and returning fire. I was having so much fun. I felt like I just got put into the big game.
The Recovering Asshole inside me came to life and was jacked up and ready to play. I fired off responses to comments that had me feeling creative and funny. This part of me was so into it I was hoping more insults would roll in. I was having a little too much fun, and it was giving me a high. Most of the trolls never responded. If they did, they were weaker, more pathetic, and not equipped for a battle of words.
I noticed a pattern of feeling really high and good when I fired a shot, then excited, waiting to do it again, but then over time, as that high faded, I started to feel shitty again.
I realized I felt like I was beating up a pathetic kid who hides in his Mom's basement, living on a screen. It felt like I was punching a man who had been beaten up and hit his whole life. I felt like I was talking shit to a sad man in an office whose only escape from his miserable job, mediocre marriage, and boring life is trolling others. I felt like I was bringing negativity when I am committed to being positive, inspirational, and making a difference.
So while my Recovering Asshole got to play, it was like a hit of a drug. It felt good for a moment, and then I needed to chase the high again and again. As the days and hours passed, I was craving more online trolls. I wanted more fodder to play with.
By the end of the week, I had started to feel like I was in The Walking Dead, and these trolls were just zombies. Like The Walking Dead, the zombies never stop coming, so no matter how skilled you are, how strong you are, or how clever you are, there is only one of you and so many of them. Regardless of how much more skilled, talented, powerful, and equipt you will eventually run out of gas. This is why in all the Zombie shows, the goal isn't to kill all the zombies but to get to a place and create a life that excludes them or keeps them as far away as possible.
TV may have taught me something.
Part 3: Spending Too Much On My Phone
And that led me to Part 3, realizing I spend too much time on my phone. The online trolls, the interactions, the reading, scrolling, and posting all of it, got me presents too; I want to be on my phone less than I am. I have created an extraordinary life for myself. I have the perfect fiance and a massive group of curated, wise, inspiring, creative, adventurous, successful, and exciting friends. I live in a great house in the best city. I'm healthy and happy and have an outstanding business and a great family.
Why am I spending so much time on this little screen? And that realization made the whole thing worth it.
So while this started as what I learned from playing with my online trolls for 72 hours, this is actually a love letter to them. Thank you. Thank you @darklord3455. Thank you @jp345. Thank you @willkill2342. Thank you @mushyD958. Thank you @kurtji2939494499. Thank you @williamNoJob. Thank you @IloveAngryMusic9999. Thank you @Diaperman565. Thank you @IluvAndrewTate69. Thank you @Ihaventcriendin22years6868. Thank you
@JonIknowMenArethebest. Thank you, thank you.
This experience and this awareness have given me the gift of getting a present of how great my life is and how I want to spend more time in it in real life and not on a tiny screen.
So while I might still let my Recovering Asshole banter with online trolls from time to time and, I might spend moments, like now sharing on social media, spending time off my phone, with my friends family and doing things that feel important to me is where I want my focus to be.
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