Social media can be a strange place. Two days ago I tweeted Judd Apatow criticizes Whoopi Goldberg for supporting Bill Cosby but he’s an avid Woody Allen fan. It was an innocent observation. There was nothing provocative about the tweet. I wasn’t defending Cosby or condemning Allen, I was just pointing out the hypocrisy of it all. The next night I received an onslaught of tweets from one man, who began insulting and mocking me. He sent at least forty tweets in 30 minutes. The effects were dizzying. I didn’t respond to the stream of insults but they kept coming. Those insults weren’t just limited to me, the man believed Allen could not be guilty because there was only one accuser so he began mocking Dylan Farrow. Nothing he tweeted made sense, which may explain why he deleted every single one of his tweets hours after he sent them.
After I tweeted Dylan Farrow was a victim, the individual became more aggressive; he replied Farrow was just one ‘kid’ and Cosby raped forty women. He minimised Farrow and her experience because she was only one person then he mocked me for believing she mattered. For most of the night he continued to verbally abuse me and refused to stop until I blocked him. It was my strangest Twitter experience. I recounted the story to a friend, who explained women are more likely to suffer verbal abuse on social media networks.
I should have blocked him straightaway but that would have meant he had won. The idea that a stranger can read an opinion and hurl insults at another person isn’t fair. We should be able to disagree and move on. Now strangers insist on engaging in contentious arguments, but I suppose that’s what trolls do. They go online and scroll through tweets for the sole purpose of harassing someone. I don’t understand how an individual can be so miserable that their only joy is verbally abusing others. It’s incomprehensible. Maybe my mistake was trying to make sense of his motives.
There’s no positive here. I imagine he’s on Twitter verbally abusing another young woman right now, stealthy deleting tweets once he’s been blocked and starting again. Perhaps you’ve met him. In person he seems like a normal individual but online he acts out his misplaced aggression by demeaning women. No one can stop him.