the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Thank Your Troll Day

In the last two weeks or so — or ever since that popular breast-feeding post — I’ve received an unusually large amount of comments from trolls. I’m not sure if it is THAT post or my post about my marital woes with Sophia or even my birthday post to Tanis, the Redneck Mommy. Maybe it is a combination of the three — a burst of popularity + a sob story + kissing ass. Trolls hate popularity, friendship, and/or a sign or weakness. Just this morning, I received a comment on my last post. I deleted it because it was off-topic, but the gist was that I was lame, unfunny, a nobody who hangs out with his mom, a pretend writer, pathetic loser, and someone who “couldn’t get laid by any mommyblogger, let along a self-respecting woman.” And as I’m reading this diatribe, I’m going, “Yes, Yes, Yes, Yes!!!” Thank you for understanding the real me.

Trolls are the most misunderstood individuals in the blogosphere. We brand them with a scarlet letter, but can’t we see the good in them? Isn’t it possible that these members of our community are just believers in “tough love.” Perhaps they do care about us, but not with the typical manner of support — the cliched “be yourself!” or “you rock!” Instead, they want to help you strip away the artifice, peel away the layers of the your onion, much like the finest therapist, or Doctor Phil.

I enjoy these troll comments, because the troll usually agrees with me. After all, I just wrote a post about a hooker falling asleep on my living room couch. I already know that the scenario is pathetic. That’s the point! So, friends, don’t worry about me or my feelings. Don’t protect me in the comments. If anything, I worry about the troll. I feel bad that I might have touched a nerve by writing about a sleeping hooker. I can only assume that the troll felt hurt because she has sleep apnea or was unsuccessful in her career as a hooker.

Many of us on the internet are upset because of that horrible incident at Rutgers last week where students posted a video of roommate having sex online, humiliating him, which ultimately led to his suicide. But not everyone feels that the two students who posted the video are criminals. I emailed this troll, who has a slightly different view. She thinks that this boy’s friends were trying to “help” him come out of the closet. Since he was a shy, sensitive boy, they took it on themselves to do what he could not do himself — enable him to be comfortable with who he is in public. Tough love.

That makes sense. After all, no one would publish personal videos or say mean things on blogs out of pure malice. I try to look for the good in everyone. My mother taught me that.

Maybe we should have a Thank Your Troll Day. There is so much ass-kissing online, so much bullshit. It is the trolls who do the necessary work of helping us look within ourselves with a clear, cold vision of a hawk.

It’s all interesting to me. A study in human psychology.

Sadly, trolls are not as successful with me, mostly because I am so self-denigrating and silly. What can you say that I haven’t already said about myself? Your technique works best, even kicks ass, when applied to those who are truly hurting, or overly-sensitive, or don’t have big-time bloggers as friends for support to scare you away. I say — focus on those bloggers who don’t have good senses of humor, or unfamiliar with handling personal criticism, especially those getting separated from their spouses or have just lost a baby or have come down with some life-threatening exotic disease. They deserve your full support. Your tough love comments will mean a whole lot more to them.

Now, back to the big issue — really — surely I can get laid by SOME mommyblogger. Ok, maybe not one of the bigshots who speak at one of the 3000 mommyblogger conferences running every other week, but at least one of the lesser-know ones. Right?


  1. Sarah

    I have only gotten a troll message once, as I am a not-well-known Mommyblogger (who won’t sleep with you), and I LOVED it! I don’t know why. Maybe it was because he was Danish, maybe because even though there are tons of pictures of me on my blog he thought I was a man, maybe it was because he implied (well, not implied as much as said outright) that I do gay porn. I found it thoroughly entertaining and I cherish it and I wish I had more trolls. Maybe I’m a masochist?

  2. Finn

    The best part about trolls is that they usually comment on some random post that just makes no sense at all. You can post 400 political rants and then a picture of a puppy and the troll will flame you on the puppy.

    • V-Grrrl

      God, Finn, that is SO true.

  3. Angella

    You crack me up, Neil. I love how your perspective always goes against the grain. 🙂

  4. V-Grrrl @ Compost Studios

    I’ve been called a neurotic exhibitionist, a suburban drama queen, a “bad” expat, a pathetic writer, a childish artist, a legend in my own mind, and a whiner. I’ve been described as mentally unstable, allergic to happiness, and in need of therapy. I’ve been criticized for sharing too much of my life and for sharing too little of it. When I wrote about the experience of helping an elderly woman who fell over backwards on an escalator, I had a troll snottily say that they had no respect for someone who “broadcasts their righteousness on the Internet.” In another post I wrote about some volunteer work I was engaged in and was told by a troll I was “not doing enough” in my community. I wrote a humorous post about middleage and was called “ageist.” I’ve had positive thinking nutcases tell me to buck up when I wrote a post about waking up in the middle of night experiencing searing chest pains a month after having heart surgery. My husband was in Afghanistan at the time, I was worried about him and about my heart but apparently I was not *entitled* to be scared or worried. Ah, the tough love–so many trolls sharing so much helpful and inspirational advice to create positive change in the world. Yes, trolls deserve their own day.

  5. Neil

    V-grrrl — that’s upsetting to me that people troll YOU. I can’t think of one thing controversial about you. At least I’m cursing and saying stupid things at times on my blog. And I am a bit drama queen-ish.

    Still, I think some people have very odd expectations about blogs. I always assume that trolls are friends of friends, and they come here to check it out, and then when they don’t like it, they feel odd — how can their friends like it? — so they feel the urge to take action and call you out.

    The email that I received today started like this — “Do you write anything insighful or interesting? Because i come here off and on to try and catch an interesting/funny/ thought-provoking post, and all i get is a nobody who hangs out with his mom…”

    Now, there might be some truth to that comment. If this blog was a movie, and someone just paid twelve dollars for it because it got good reviews in the New York Post, and then the person walked out in the middle, they might have every right to say, “boy, did that suck!” But considering that this is a personal blog that makes no money, I’m not sure what right anyone has to be angry at the content.

    But I’ll try to do better for that troll. I aim to please. And I sometimes forget that readers come here to be informed or entertained. I really do. I’m just writing stuff. So, in that sense, I took that positive message away. People ARE coming to this blog hoping to be informed or entertained, and this isn’t just ramblings I write to amuse myself.

  6. Karl

    Some say that you only really hit “success” when trolls are spamming up your blog comments. Now you’ve had posts with massive hits AND you have trolls, so congratulations are clearly in order.

  7. sarah

    Always with the different perspective. 🙂

    I don’t get many trolls (I don’t get many readers!), but next time I do, I’ll be sure to embrace the tough love

  8. Helen Jane

    Aw, now I feel like ruffling my troll’s hair and throwing her an “Under the Bridge” party.

  9. Leah

    This is brilliant in so many ways.

  10. Zahra

    I am jealous. I’ve never had the honor of receiving a troll comment. Mostly because only 14.5 people read my blog. But I have had a lot of spam comments introducing me to the wonders of Cialis or creams that will make my boobs bigger. Maybe I should consider these spammers trolls. After all, they are just trying to let me know that I need bigger boobs, and not only am I missing a penis, but even if I did have one I’d need Cialis to get in the mood. I feel better already.

  11. Marci

    Because I no longer keep a blog, I find troll comments entertaining. You know, because it’s not happening to me.

    Troll comments are the most fun when bloggers from the same “tribe” attack their own. (Oh, hit a nerve, eh? Can’t seem to move on, can you? Gotta get just one! more! jab!!)

    Also fun to read are troll comments shooting down someone being self-absorbed and/or indignant. (Yay! Touch love!)

    Thank you, Trolls, for making blogs fun to read again.

    • Marci

      Must also add — I do not find trolls amusing, however, when they say hurtful things to my friends who are suffering a loss. The things I’ve read… good lord.

      Otherwise… hug a troll!

  12. Jack

    I love trolls. They have threatened my life, promised to take away my children and called me more names than contained in a the big yellow dummies guide for picking a child’s name.

    I like them because they prove that I have more than 1 zillion readers and that I am both loved and hated. And what kind of life do we lead if we have to choose one over the other.

  13. Titanium

    For some, writing is a dialogue. A metaphorical composition of sunlight, laughter, a game of tag on the playground of conversation, life lived out loud answers when deep calls unto deep.

    For others, the understanding of these two words is poignantly lacking. Dialogue is not conversation. Break down the word in its original language, and it comes from not one but two Greek roots: “dia” which means “through”, and “logos” which is defined as “word” or “meaning”. Dialogue, then, is the glacier-fed stream of words and their meanings, flowing through and around the group sharing it.

    For some, who exist only in an island of anonymity, there is only monologue. A one-sided, one-dimensional, flat-Stanley perspective of life rendered without regard to the truth that no man or woman is an island unto themselves. The tattered cloak of anonymity is typically donned by those who have not yet learned that it is an honor, a dignity to speak with their own voice. They are, by nature, shadow-land dwellers. This would tend to explain their persistence in popping up only to spout negative, ignorant comments, then to disappear leaving only their IP addresses in their sad, little wake.

    These anony-holes are not to be feared, but rather to be welcomed. Like a dirty old uncle who hasn’t showered since time immemorial, their stench rather sours the family dinner- and yet, they offer perspective that might otherwise be lacking. Aristotle said it best, “It is just that we should be grateful, not only to those with whose views we may agree, but also to those who have expressed more superficial views; for these also contributed something, by developing before us the powers of thought.”

  14. Mamie

    The only odd comment I have had was over a picture of my toddler son in a tutu. Owen has this weird group of argentinians that fixate on him and one was totally indignant that I let him try on a tutu. And the English was horrible. I was more amused than anything.

    You, my friend, are in a different league altogether. And I think you are handling it with great aplomb. Maybe you can eventually pull a dooce move and start a whole ‘nother ad sponsored blog featuring your trolls. And therein lies your future revenue.

  15. MidLyfeMama

    While I am myself happily married and thus immune to your sexxay ways, I am quite sure there is at least one mommyblogger out there who is prepared to throw you a little love.

  16. Danny

    Sometimes I enjoy hearing from trolls, but lately my trolls have been virulent anti-Semites who rail on about the Jews and I can’t delete them fast enough. But I did leave up a few comments from people who defend Hitler, that’s too good to delete. Again, if anyone wants to experience an influx of negative comments, here’s what you do: write a post about circumcision that doesn’t decry it as a brutal form of torture.

    • Neil

      Was just reading a very sad blog post about a mother who just lost her baby, and she is getting tons of nasty comments and email, blaming the death on the circumcision. I don’t know the medical details, or whether the doctors are at fault, or what — but it certainly seems inappropriate to hound this woman a day after a tragedy and use it for your own purposes. It is an example of when politics or ideology becomes more important than humanity.

  17. The real LA love story

    i am an ex-sorority girl who got pregnant at 23 and now breastfeed in public, sleep with my baby in bed, and live with his father who i tried to marry but couldn’t. trolls gotta love me.

    on the bright side, the mommy blogger market is over-saturated and your odds are looking very good.

  18. GrandeMocha

    How could the troll not be entertained by the hooker story?

    I laughed out loud at “unsuccessful in her career as a hooker.”

    Maybe you could hold a contest & the winner gets to sleep with you. Open to mommybloggers only.

  19. Poor Fish Girl

    I’m the opposite – twitter schmitter but not having access to Facebook would make me skitzy (-er than I already am.)

  20. Poor Fish Girl

    Gah! Put the last comment in the wrong space, sorry :/. Anyway. Trolls are a good thing. As they say in the business – bad publicity is better than no publicity- and usually bad publicity means double, even triple publicity. It’s kind of like the blogspheres way of saying “you made it” (that and scoring w/ a mommy blogger – lol).

    Ps- sorry for any typos, spell check doesn’t want to work tonight.

  21. The Checkout Girl

    How do you further deprecate the master of self-deprecation?

    The only trolls I’ve gotten are on my columns. Write for any kind of news site, and out come the experts. Thankfully, insight and education about all kinds of things are just one snarky comment away. Good news for the lazy, i.e. me.

  22. Jaime Richards

    This is SO enlightening! A good friend just encouraged me to write a blog that I’m actually enjoying. After 37 different botched attempts to become a blogger, I actually have more than 10 posts of something. She also pointed me to your blog.

    1. You have just completely broken me of my fear of future trolls…mostly because you gave them a name, and now I can create their own special little icon, laugh, and say “thank you!”
    2. I didn’t know about Mommy-bloggers. I had no idea they were a phenom! I’m kinda glad I did something different.
    THANK YOU! You ARE having a positive impact on the world…clearly! 🙂

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