Trolling with love

By Sophie McNaughton

After spending hours doing anything and everything to avoid studying last week, I finally succumbed to the pressure and started revising, or perhaps cramming is a better term. While annotating poetry, I found myself re-reading a particular line: “Twere profanation of our joys/to tell the laity our love.” This extract is essentially saying that public displays of emotion are undignified and in fact cheapen the relationship that the speaker is gushing about. This got me thinking about not just public displays of affection but of hate too, as anonymous trolling is increasingly becoming a problem on social media. So in true Carrie Bradshaw style, I couldn’t help but wonder, why do people publicly profess love but anonymously dish out hate?

With such horrific stories in the news lately about victims of cyberbullying taking their own lives, as depicted in the recent Channel 4 drama Cyberbully, it’s a wonder that anyone feels safe on the internet anymore. It seems that the trolls of our society, while they are a minority, are still managing to cause serious emotional and psychological problems. I suppose they do this to fill some kind of void of unhappiness within themselves and if that is the case; wouldn’t being supportive to someone else going through a rough time be more rewarding than sending ‘anons’ calling them fat, stupid and ugly?

Someone who has the right idea about this issue is Jodi Ann Bickley, the creator of After suffering from a brain infection and developing M.E., Jodi Ann had a lot of spare time during her recovery and decided to set up the website to help others. On OMLL, Jodi Ann encourages people who are going through a hard time or who are just feeling a bit glum to send her a message. She then writes each person a handwritten letter with such encouraging and heart-warming words as: “You make this world a little more wonderful” and “Nobody deserves to be here more than you. You deserve every happiness.” Jodi Ann’s inspirational story about selflessness and generosity is proof that spreading love is more uplifting than being hateful.

As human beings, I believe we have to try to co-exist in some kind of harmony and I think supporting each other is vital to our emotional well-being. On occasions when I, myself, have been having a bad day, a simple kind word like “oh, I like your top” or “that’s a nice necklace”, trivial as they may sound, can make a world of difference. It really is the little things that make us happy.

Today, try do something nice to make someone smile, whether it be anonymously or publicly. For example: if you use Tumblr, you could anonymously send someone a thoughtful message; if you’re on a train or bus, write a note for the next person who will sit in your seat telling them how special they are; or if you think someone’s perfume smells nice or if you like someone’s new haircut, tell them! Or even something simpler like giving an old friend a call or visiting an elderly relative you don’t see very often. These little things, as well as brightening the recipient’s day, will make you feel warm and fuzzy too.

Instead of ‘trolling’ being a word associated with verbal abuse, it’d be nice to reinvent the term by sending secret messages of support and comfort to make someone else happy. Don’t be a cyberbully, instead why not try ‘trolling with love’?