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Constructive Conversation with a Casual Troll
I reached out to a peripheral troll. Glad I did.
I noticed a new account, who follows all my trolls, participating in several harmful conversations about me. It was an anonymous account but barely, so ten minutes later I reached out to him on LinkedIn to thank him for his service, and to politely ask him to stop participating in coordinated harassment.
His response was hostile but human. He wasn’t a paid troll, just someone caught up in it. He told me that he had a disappointing interaction with me at some point in the past. After some back and forth we ended up here:
The details of the conversation aren’t important. He had some ideas that I disagree with and had an image of me that was manufactured. In short, he doesn’t like me. No problem! The most important thing is he responded like a person.
I learned from this interaction. About how I can be more open and take more care not to label people too fast. Hopefully he learned something too.
The purpose of coordinated harassment is not just to harm the target. It’s to draw people like my new LinkedIn acquaintance into a seductive vortex of anger and trolling. It’s a template that works.
Regardless, to me, this was a small victory. We might not like each other but I think we now see each other as human.