11th reason to thank the Trolls

My top 10 – now 11 –  list of lessons I learn from Trolls

One week after I posted my 10 reasons to thank the Trolls, I read news of the #aftermetoo fund, which adds an 11th lesson I learned from those who flame, cast shade, insult and blah blah on social media.

This excerpt from Marsha Lederman‘s Globe and Mail story lays the groundwork for my 11th lesson.

… behind the scenes, women on opposite sides of the argument have been talking quietly among themselves. [Margaret] Atwood, novelist Susan Swan (another signatory) and UBC Creative Writing graduate student Meghan Bell (a critic of the open letter) have been discussing …
Reason 11 to #thankthetrolls
11. You unintentionally inspire me to use positive strategies, such as: behind-the-scenes work, with talk, by collaboration, in support of each other, to discuss how to change the narrative, be constructive, and stay ethical, authentic, in an open mindset, and to quietly act the opposite to what you represent.

Original sketch Eileen Goodey

If you missed reasons 10 through 1, here’s that list from a week ago:

A woman I admire receives threats on her social media feeds. Her offence is that she’s dedicated the past three decades of her life to keeping the planet habitable for the rest of us,

troll wide
original art from Gargoyle Meditations by Eileen Goodey

The 10 lessons I learn from those who post those threats:

Dear Trolls and Haters, whoever you are,

Thank you for your comments. I can’t acknowledge you personally since you choose to remain anonymous, so please accept my generalized gratitude.

In your social media attacks, you tell whichever writer displeases you, usually a woman, to shut up, die in painful ways, and experience vengeful harms. The writer you disapprove of, according to your comments, deserves the pain and harm you wish upon her.

I learned 10 lessons from your poisonous opinions:

10. Your hostility to differences in class, race, religion, ethnicity, values, orientations, beliefs, and other diversities, creates opportunities for Conflict Management work. 

9. In your venom against systems that offend you, I find inspiration to engage with others across our divides, because the serious problems of the 21st century need all of us working together.

8. Until you publicly vilify the people striving to ensure that you and I have clean air, potable water, contiguous forests and ecosystems, and access to nature, I am unaware of their efforts on behalf of the vulnerable, the disempowered, the voiceless, and the planet.

7. After reading your shallow accusations about whichever policy decisions you despise, I renew my commitment to being informed, getting facts right, and staying nonjudgmental about personal choices and lifestyles.

6. At your insistence that some shouldn’t hold their opinions, I resolve to stay grounded with compassion and acts of lovingkindness; weaknesses you seem to despise that are sources of strength to me.

5. Watching you engage in what I call competitive conversation, where you must have the last word, as if winning means to yell or boast everyone else into submission, I try to remember to listen more than I talk.

4. When you feel smarter pulling apart others’ opinions, you demonstrate the value of putting diverging opinions together, integrating different points of view, building to make ideas better, gaining insights from more ideas, because then we’re all smarter and everyone benefits.

3. Underneath your need to be right I see a craving for certainty, which doesn’t exist in these turbulent times, so I seek better understanding of uncertainty and ambiguity, to thus be more useful in my community.

2. Whether you fear losing your job, way of life, and community, or feel desperate for control over your fate and future, you motivate me to improve my skills of adapting to change, resilience, and life-long learning.

1. You make visible the hard work and sacrifices of those you harangue. I’m grateful you brought them to my attention so I can publicly thank them for their contribution to making the world better, safer, cleaner, and more decent.

Yours truly,


original art by Eileen Goodey

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