Let me start by saying this:
When I started my career by writing gay erotica and then gay coming-of-age, I got death threats in my email and DMs. I’ve had a well-liked gay male member of the Writing Community DM me daily to get onto me for everything I did and tell me that I’d be branded a pedophile for writing gay YA. That guy advocates for mental health down under and talks about how he’s been victimized by bullies his whole life, by the way. I’ve had a whack-a-doo “child of God” W/C member make skits about my life and send the videos to me after I explicitly told them not to treat my life like a television show. I’ve had a non-queer W/C M/M Romance writer who belongs to a gay-hating religion chew me a new asshole because I didn’t make myself emotionally available to her 24/7. I’ve had another W/C member from down under blame me for their problems simply because I’m friends with someone who stopped being their friend due to their toxicity. I’ve seen LGBTQIA authors accuse other LGBTQIA authors of heinous shit simply because they think they’re the next great social justice warrior. They’re the wokest of woke, but ended up being the wrongest of wrongs. The list goes on and on. I’ve put up with some shit in 4.5 years in the Writing Community. I’ve seen some shit, y’all.
You have to come for me differently if you want to startle me.
Through it all, I’ve mostly stayed silent publicly and tried to be the positive, cheerful, kind person that I am (Please, please, please don’t read “pushover.” Don’t mistake my kindness for weakness.).
It has almost always been my motto that you don’t feed the trolls and you rise above the nonsense and drama that so many online personalities seem to need to feel alive.
Here’s the thing…
That has fucked me time and time again. Because it just keeps happening. And I’ll tell you why.
Trolling and online bullying survives due to two factors. Anonymity and lack of witnesses.
Faceless people hide behind the anonymity of the internet and whisper in ears. Sow discord. Create chaos and paranoia and self-doubt. They often do it privately in DMs, emails, and chats. Sometimes they use side accounts so the trolling can’t be traced back to their main accounts easily.
If they never have to face real accountability, there’s no reason to not troll. And if their targets don’t call them out publicly, they can continue their business as trolls.
I’m not going to explicitly name names here because, one, I’ve already done that, and two, that’s what these trolls live for. The notoriety and attention.
They’re the festering sludge that feeds off of the toxic waste that they pump into an online community and recycle when it drifts back down to them at the bottom of the scum pond.
In order to achieve their goals, they don’t even have to troll with facts. Any lie that’s exciting enough will do. Sure, they might pepper their lies with a few factual statements easily accessible on their target’s account to lend credence to their claims, but when you take away those things, what they’re accusing others of holds absolutely no water. Their claims are leakier than a rusty bucket at the bottom of the Atlantic.
But what purpose does this serve, you’re probably wondering?
It makes people shun the people they’ve targeted out of fear that maybe…possibly…the troll is telling the truth.
It isolates the target and makes them feel alone, attacked, and paranoid.
Who is this troll? Is it someone I know? Is it him? Is it her? Who can I trust? WHAT IS GOING ON???
They have a brief moment in their pathetic lives where they can actually achieve arousal from creating chaos and disorder in an otherwise peaceful community. Because they have nothing fulfilling going on in their lives. They have no love. They have no hobbies. They have nothing good to focus on, so they try to take all of that from others with their toxicity.
And while they are continued to be allowed to do this behind closed doors with anonymity, they will claim victim after victim, making communities more and more toxic, sowing more and more distrust, until no one trusts anyone else and it’s difficult to have nice online relationships because everyone is a possible suspect.
It’s funny. Kind of. But it’s also exhausting and infuriating and completely perplexing.
I have a theory that, more often than not, the trolls we get in the Writing Community are those who can’t sell books…so they sell lies. It’s the one way they can have control since most everything else is out of your control as a writer.
I could be wrong. It’s been known of me. But there it is.
These trolls look for victims, zero in, spread lies peppered with a few factual tidbits of information to make them seem just believable enough, and sit back and whack it to the toxicity they’ve created.
And I’m tired of it.
Trolls are getting named.
Receipts will be posted.
I’m never the one and there’s never a good day.
And I’m not afraid of trolls. While I enjoy keeping my private life private, it’s not so important that I’ll cower to toxic people hiding behind burner Twitter accounts created solely to pick on other authors who are simply enjoying their time online with other lovely people and trying to sell some books.
And I don’t care what lies trolls spread about me, because ultimately if someone chooses to believe bullshit that an account with one follower spews, that’s out of my control. I don’t want to be friends with people who are looking to believe every awful thing they hear about others.
So, I implore all of you–the next time you feel like spreading lies. Don’t. The next time you feel the need to publicly attack others. Don’t. The next time you feel a pang of jealousy rising in your gut, seek mental health assistance.
Sure, call out the trolls. Post receipts. Let people know who they need to unfollow, mute, and/or block…but don’t feed into the toxicity.
What do you really achieve from trying to sap the joy from others who are simply existing?
Lastly, I want to make it clear that I am soooooo unbothered by trolls–especially the latest one. The sole reason for this post is to explain why trolls are trolls and to let the rest of you know that you’re not alone in facing them. That you don’t need to fear them. That we can’t let them keep treating this community the way they do.
Last night, an established author and member of the W/C told me that if they became a target of a troll like my recent one, they’d dip out of the community for a month or two. I totally get it. But I don’t want to see kind, wonderful people whom I adore feel that is their only option.
If I have to be the one to say “Fuck. This. Shit. Come at me, bro!“ so be it. I’ll gladly do that for the people and community who have been my home for almost 5 years.
But, ultimately, we’ll all have to work together to face the toxicity and bullying…or it will just continue. And I’m fairly certain the 99.9% of us who aren’t trolls don’t want that.
Tremendous Love & Thanks,