Why am I so surprised when I rediscover that misogyny exists? Is it because I am friends with cis men who aren’t jerks? Is it because I want to believe that everyone has good intentions, even though history has taught me this is very untrue? Is it because I am not a troll?
During the COVID-19 pandemic quarantine, we have all been driven to extremely online social lives. Humans are social creatures, and in the face of not being able to hang out safely, we have all been spending too much time on social media for our physical safety from coronavirus in 2020. I am discovering that the very tools that allow me the physical safety to connect with my friends online leaves me prey to predatory strangers. It makes me nostalgic for the Internet of the 90s, but then I remember all the men who hit on me in Alloy’s chatrooms when I was 12 years old and the nostalgia disappears in a cloud of overheated servers’ smoke.
Until recently, I thought I had done a pretty good job of avoiding trolls online. There is a theory that the quality of posts on Reddit degrades in the summer when more teenagers are out of school. I don’t believe this, but I have noticed that the quantity of trolls responding to my tweets has skyrocketed during COVID. In the early days of quarantine, a man who looks like Perez Hilton’s twin DM’d me, asking me to be his sugar baby.
This is not how I imagined the end of the world. I had hoped that we would all band together, growing community gardens in the face of death. And for the most part, this has been the case. I love my extremely online friends. It distracts me from the nigh. I just wish that the misogynistic trolls would understand that I don’t hate them as much as they hate me. They don’t need to reply guy me into submission. I want them to tell me what they really want from me. Should I mail my trolls sourdough quarantine bread? I would be happy to send them some blackberries. “What a Troll Wants” sounds like a 90s song before its time. Because all a troll wants, all a troll needs is for you to be as miserable as they are.