I am on the road to 40, and being trolled by teenagers. This is not cool. Even less cool is my reaction to this: hiding in a coat cupboard and shouting ‘Make it stop! Make it stop!’ – whilst trying not to have a panic attack, be sick or cry. I should be on the school run; my son is still in his pyjamas, has had a breakfast that would warrant a Social Care referral and is handling life a lot better than me, despite being only five.
I assume the trolls are teenagers; they have the angst and disregard for feelings that surely couldn’t come from a bunch of grown women, and there’s no tongue-in-cheek banter – they want my blood. Except for they may well not be teenagers – in view that the abuse is stemming from a parenting forum for women.
The cause of this? I had the audacity to post a few blogs on the site. Apparently this is in line with Fred West’s behaviour – the total irony being that these women are gouging the virtual eyes out of me, whilst themselves behaving in a manner that should sign them up for instant sterilisation.
The paranoia that I am some undercover Russian spy, as opposed to being so technically inept that I don’t know how to erect a profile photo that fits the size specs (and so stupid that I didn’t realise this site didn’t match my assumption that it was a supportive parenting website), results in my phone vibrating like an oral B – as the trolls investigate my online existence. I did indeed just want traffic to my blog – but a blog I write with the hope it makes someone laugh/think, gives hope that life as a single parent isn’t grey, and because I want a book deal so that I can reach out to help more people than I could within the restrictions of my NHS job. The blog doesn’t make money and the hunt for more online followers stems from this phone call:
Me: Hi there, I’m looking for a book deal for my blog.
Biggest lit agent in UK: how many online followers have you got?
Me: about 70.
Me: erm, nope, just 70.
**world’s most awkward silence. I do a variation on ‘oh look, a flying pig!’ And hang up.
Constructive criticism? Welcomed. A good hearty debate? I love them. A polite ‘you’ve got the etiquette all wrong on this site’? Taken on the chin. Abuse by a mass of women who want to feel better about themselves by bullying? Congratulations – you’ve given me a fear parallel with jumping out of a plane with a woollen parachute, and the shame and embarrassment of having to have sex with a golden retriever on live TV.
I stopped reading the thread after the 4th attack – but as the comments reached triple figures, I receive a message from a stranger directly to my blog site, publicly wishing me well and acknowledging the horror of the situation. I didn’t want to know what they were saying. I wish I was competent enough to reply to the lovely lady who took the time to message me but it appears to be through a link on the forum and I’m scared where my reply will land. In my head I think I that the consequence of pressing the wrong button is death.
I used to do stand-up comedy – my favourite gigs being the bear-pits where you get voted off, and an FHM competition that threw me to a collection of hen and stag parties in Leeds. I loved it. In a place where I managed to escape heckling from drunken crowds, I am puzzled by how the same source of humour can cause sober parents to will me under a bus. Undoubtedly it’s the security of the internet – teamed with the fact that some women are so totally ignorant to the fact that others can’t, or struggle to, conceive, and instead these mothers choose to be bitter and slag off the world, rather than be grateful that they are blessed with being a parent.
I arrive at work and cry into someone’s minestrone soup. I also cry at the school gates – I am trying to be brave but it’s like trying to hold diarrhoea in, after drinking 4 litres of prune juice.
I am a fool for my naivety, but shocked that these women have children – and the time and mindset to troll online. I have a writing window from 6.30-7am each morning, to fit around work and childcare – by 9.30am my post had been read by over 1200 mothers – a post that, to my knowledge, doesn’t not fall into anyone’s feed – you have to look for it.
How very sad.
I begged the company to take down everything I’d posted – they were amazingly understanding at my cowardly stance, and very apologetic.
Even more ironically, after 6 months of knocking on the door to blog for the company, they contacted me that night to say they have accepted me. I think posting this article on their site would be the equivalent of escaping a bear, and then strapping a beaver carcass to my head and running back towards the bear. I have no interest.
My only temptation now is to set up a Just Giving page for the husbands and children of these women.