In The Guardian, Kathleen Hale offers her riveting tale story of tracking down an Internet troll who turns out to be a catfish. At one point, she makes a powerful observation on the psychology of those who troll:
Why do hecklers heckle? Recent studies have had dark things to say about abusive internet commenters: a University of Manitoba report suggested they share traits with child molesters and serial killers. The more I wondered about Blythe, the more I was reminded of something Sarah Silverman said in an article for Entertainment Weekly: A guy once just yelled, “Me!” in the middle of my set. It was amazing. This guy’s heckle directly equalled its heartbreaking subtext “Me!”. Silverman, an avid fan of Howard Stern, went on to describe a poignant moment she remembers from listening to his radio show: one of the many callers who turns out to be an asshole is about to be hung up on when, just before the line goes dead, he blurts out, in a crazed, stuttering voice, “I exist!”.
It’s the best essay I’ve read in awhile, and is sparking debate about the ethics of the author and the troll. Check it out here.