So I have this troll. So far, it’s just the one. Let’s call her Belinda Wrong. That’s not her real name, but I thought for the sake of discussion, I should show her more grace and tact that she herself appears to be capable of. At some point in the last five years she “went off her meds” (no sarcasm, this is the story as it’s been relayed to me) and decided that while I was working with a client that I drew Belinda’s deceased relatives ( a sister and the sister’s infant) for the sole intent to laugh at Belinda’s misfortune and mock her family.
“Wait. What?” That’s exactly what I said.
At first she threatened to kill me, then she started spewing insults, sending me threatening FB messages telling me she was going to kill my son and mother, and pretty much every basic hateful thing a troglodyte can think of to vomit in my general direction. Recently, she’s taken to sending me pictures of some other deceased child, and the image of a coffin, saying that’s my son and mother.
(That’s right. She’s dishonoring some other poor dead child's memory because she’s convinced I did the same thing. It’s ok when she does it though, in her mind anyway.)
And for the longest time I didn’t even understand why, until she told me in a few hateful emails and FB messages.
For a day or so after I learned of this detail I combed the files of everyone I’ve ever drawn in the last five years, and while I have illustrated children with their moms, I managed to contact everyone and they are alive and well. Thank goodness. Laughing at a dead person, and a dead baby is in fact crazy evil.
It’s unethical, immoral, and all kinds of bad. Let me publicly state that I am against laughing at or mocking dead people. (Unless they’re actually Hitler, or hilarious yet fictional zombies.) I don’t even like the idea of hurting kids in fiction—I’ve left movies in the theatre when kids were hurt. I’m a mom, and my friends can attest to my chilling glare when someone makes a dead baby joke in my presence.
But wait, how or why is drawing people mocking them? I could understand it if these were political cartoons or caricatures, but I’m mostly a portrait artist As a portrait artist my illustrations are intended as gifts, but as an editorial illustrator, my goal is to convey my client’s message in a visual manner. However, the majority of those subjects are adult men, like yakuza, and other political types and my illustration-art style has always steered towards realism, and away from caricature. Pretty much the only people my art has ever made fun of is members of TEPCO.
Here’s a fact I learned the hard way when dealing with trolls: None of the above matters. It doesn’t matter to Belinda that I would never actually do what she accused me of. There’s no point in trying to tell her, or address her or even get involved. And that takes me to lessons two and three. Trolls like Belinda teach you how to have a titanium hide very quickly, and also teach you how to better use social media and website blocking features. I’ve gotten good at locking down her opportunities to vomit rage in my general direction, and thanks to the wonder of internet service providers I actually know her legal name, telephone numbers and where she resides and vacations. (When someone says they want to “shove a metal rod up your son’s ass” you want to know everything you can about the potential threat they might pose to you.)
No, I’m not going to “doxx” her, (post her contact details online. Doxxing is something I don’t agree with anyway) I’m not going to even address her beyond this post. She’s not a credible threat to my family’s safety, despite her claims otherwise. I did some basic investigative work, I realized she’s not so much a troll as she is suffering. That’s why I wanted to write this blog post. Not to whine about how mean trolls are, but to talk about suffering. After conferring with a friend who knew her, I was informed that she was on meds for something, and then she stopped, and that’s when she decided I had done terrible things to her.
And she is suffering, though her pain has twisted into some sort of misguided rage that she spews at me for something I didn’t do but that she thinks i did. (She has yet to ever offer up proof of my alleged offense, like screenshots of the offending artwork she swears I did, or screenshots or copies of blogposts where I did the things she says I did.)
In Belinda’s mind, I did those things, and her grief over her loss pushes her to lash out in terrible ways. Death threats against me I’m used to. Death threats against my family stirred me to action, but they are safe and unaware of her existence, and that’s all that really matters to me.
In some ways, I pity Belinda Wrong. I can’t imagine what her loss must feel like, and even if my part in her suffering is not real, her grief is. I wish she could come to terms and get actual help for her pain, and yes I’ll admit it I kinda wish she would find something else to do other than spew vile rage at innocent people. It doesn’t really bother me personally—her insults went from shocking to disturbing to comical to dull, like that bully in kindergarten who relentlessly calls you every bad name they can think of to try to get some reaction out of you.
I suppose this blogpost is a victory for her. I reacted, but less to display emotion for her threats and taunts and more to point out that behind some trolls on the net, there is a genuinely suffering mentally ill person going through their own kind of hell. Whenever possible, people like that deserve pity and compassion, not the same treatment they are giving out.
To “Belinda:” I’m sorry you’re suffering. I firmly believe that I have nothing to do with your suffering other than being a scapegoat, but I’m sorry for your loss nonetheless. I hope you find peace someday. I’m done with you.
To my other readers: Don’t worry about me. I’m fine, because I’ve taken measures behind the scenes to keep me and my family safe (ish). But if you have ever been threatened or otherwise bullied online, do what I did. Contact friends, lawyers and law enforcement. Even if you think it’s not a big deal, you need to stay safe. Sometimes the troll is a harmlessly mentally ill voice in the wind, sometimes they are a credible threat to your life and safety. Stay vigilant.
To that one reader from India looking for "Free erotic English Sex stories?" I'm working on it, trust me.
I'll have another blog post soon.