On Internet Trolls and Sifting Through the Vomit

What I’ve discovered over the past three months since I started Disco Pants is that there are two kinds of people who comment on your blog – there are the interesting, engaged and reasonable folk who, while they might not agree with you, have valid points to make and you’d have them around for dinner tomorrow for a fun discussion. And then there are those who are so cross about their lives they can barely believe the horror of their own existence, and for them, the internet has provided a very handy tool for unleashing all the anger they’ve been storing since they were seven and had to sit in the naughty corner even though it was their brother who set fire to the cat. And I know the common parlance for these sorts is internet trolls, but I rather think trolls is too nice a word for them. I mean, trolls are kind of cute. Take this guy for instance – I’d give him a cuddle and a cup of tea any day.

A huggable troll in Norway.
A huggable troll in Norway.

I think we have to find a new word – one that properly describes their poofiness, and for me Tokoloshe is that word. They are no longer internet trolls, they are internet Tokoloshes who come out of their hokkies in the middle of the night to scare the living daylights out of the normal people who forgot to put their metaphorical beds on bricks. Tokoloshes are freaking scary, man. Pepper Spray aint gonna cut it – you need some strong muti to save yourself from these things. And you’d be surprised at how many shapes and sizes they come in. Some of them are school teachers living in Australia (yep – bet you didn’t know Australia has Tokoloshes too), some are rich, young black men living in the UK (Tokoloshes alive and well in Marble Arch, people) and some are made of pap – the spineless kind who scream at you from behind the safety of their computer screens but are too cowardly to leave their names, and run away when you call them on their hexing.

Personally, I'd kak myself if this guy appeared in my room in the dead of night.
One of my readers.
Or him, for that matter. And this proves that Tokoloshes come in all shapes and sizes.
And another one, proving that Tokoloshes come in all shapes and sizes.

Tokoloshe made of pap

At first I used to think I had to engage with everyone who commented on my blog, but then a friend shared a useful analogy. She said, why catch everyone’s vomit? Because a lot of them are just vomiting. Sometimes they’re not even talking about the blog because I can tell they haven’t really read it. They just want to shout at somebody because, I suppose, they’re unhappy with their lives or they got a traffic fine that day or a bird pooped on the their shoe. And engaging with these mad invectives is a bit like sifting through the vomit looking for an intact Endearment. Why do it? There are loads of lovely people for whom my writing resonates, and it’s a joy reading what they have to say, and having them share their stuff with me. The others? Not worth the effort. So, now I have an assistant (a-hem) who reads my comments for me and simply trashes the crazies so that I can get on with the business of doing what I genuinely love.

And it’s a weird thing when people say (like one chick did yesterday) I HATE YOUR WRITING! STOP WRITING! I WISH WORDPRESS WOULD CLOSE YOUR BLOG DOWN! Because I just want to know why they’re reading it if it displeases them so much. There is SO much other stuff they could be reading instead, and I urge them, with all my heart, to step away from my blog. I don’t assume to appeal to everyone. Honestly, I don’t even think about my audience when I’m writing. I write what has meaning for me. I write about what moves me, and what is, ultimately, my personal truth, and it makes me happy to know that some of the things I say make sense to some people. But if these musings feel indulgent or vacuous or annoying, by all means MOVE ON.

After viciously attacking me, being contemptuous of my viewpoint and saying ‘what do you expect, anyway, of a blog called DISCO PANTS?!’ this same guy went on to comment 43 times. Why, with tears in my eyes? GO AWAY! Unfortunately, the nature of the internet is that there’s no way you can block these nasty, small-minded people, but you can blacklist them by marking them as spam which means they can’t comment anymore, thank god, and I’ve had to do that with a few. Oh, and then there’s this woman who calls herself doctor something or other (pretentious, much?) who doesn’t write anything of value, but leaves these half-threatening one-liners about how everyone HATES my blog which is going viral in a NOT GOOD WAY. And you think, god, Tokoloshe chick, what the hell happened to you in your life that you got so mean? You must go talk to someone man, it can’t be good for you, all this venom.

A new writer friend who contacted me because of my blog and with whom I enjoyed the most wonderful winey lunch yesterday said something terribly clever, and it was this: there are no new stories, but sometimes people will only resonate with it the way you tell it. What wise words. Nothing I say is new, but for whatever reason, people relate to it, or parts of it. And in this way we are conduits of truth for one other. When I am stuck or confused or pondering over something, a friend or an acquaintance will miraculously show up (in real life or on facebook) and answer the question for me, and I’m always amazed at how this type of synchronicity happens if you take the time to notice it.
So, to the many, many lovely individuals who take time out of their day to read this blog, and then write me sweet comments and e-mails or just offer their insights and stories – thank you! You make my day so sunshiny. And to all the internet Tokoloshes, I will now quote the fabulous Jack Parow (who’s also apparently had some trouble with these sad little people): HOSH TOKOLOSH, WAT SOEK JY IN MY BOS?!

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