Trolls: The Mystery of Wasted Lives

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Here’s the thing about life: It’s fleeting. No matter how much you feel like the days are long, the years are short and the decades even shorter. The saying that no one gets out alive is true. Your time is finite and so very precious. Which brings me to today’s pondering: What the hell is wrong with online trolls that they see abuse, cruelty, and bullying as fun ways to spend that precious time?

If you’ve spent any time on the internet, you’ve seen what I’m talking about. There are people who cannot let anything go without making a negative, snarky, or mean comment. And I mean anything. The story could be about cute puppies helping old ladies at a school library with little kids in attendance and someone will say something terrible. Guaranteed. There’s always one. Often many more.

My question is: Why? What drives this behavior? We all know we have a limited amount of time on this earth. There’s even less “free time.” By the time you remove the hours we’re at work, sleeping, eating, and handling the other obligations of simply existing in this world, we’re down to very few hours (sometimes minutes) to do anything else.

So what is it that makes taking those few moments each day and slamming other people fun? Why do trolls choose to waste their lives like this? Never mind that I’m just not a cruel person, I’d much rather do something useful/interesting/fun offline than spend another minute per day online staring at a screen than I have to.

Beyond that, there’s so much to explore in life. If you have a lot of free time, you can take up a hobby, or several. You can work to change the things you don’t like about the world instead of simply ranting about them on social media. (I get it. Change is hard work and ranting is easier. But still… Working is far more productive and likely to lead to results than complaining ever will be.) You can invest in your personal relationships (you know, the real ones that happen in real life, not the ones on screen which may or may not be real). Develop some skills, climb the career ladder, or create something incredible. There is so much that can be done in life.

Trolling doesn’t get any of it done. Trolling simply pushes all of the potential fun of life off the table. If you spend hours per day ranting and bullying on social media, you’re losing the other things you could have done during those hours. It’s called opportunity cost, where the act of doing one thing automatically means that you cannot do another thing. Trolling means that you’re not creating, earning, playing, or enjoying other things. Those hours spent on the computer are gone and they’re not coming back. They’re subtracted from your tally of “life hours” and you cannot earn or buy them back.

That means you’re even more hours behind on the really cool stuff in life. Let’s say you want to learn guitar, but you spend two hours per day trolling and only one hour on guitar. How long do you think it’s going to take you to learn at that rate, compared to how fast you could have learned if you’d stopped harassing others and practiced the guitar? It’s like that for everything. The hours you waste are gone, and they take away from the hours you could spend living a full, productive life. They also take away from the hours you have to spend with other people, something that often leads to regret.

Think about it this way: What will you think about on your death bed? Will you look back on all those snarky comments and think, “Man, that was awesome. I’m so glad I spent weeks pissing people off. So worth it!” Or will you wish you’d done other things? Will you wish you’d invested in your hobbies, or developed more friendships in the real world? Ponder that, because that day is coming. Maybe not tomorrow, but sooner than you think.

This is my message to all the trolls: You’re going to die, just like we all are. Why not ask yourself if trolling and being intentionally cruel is really how you want to spend the (relatively) few moments you have on this earth. You don’t have to like everything, agree with everything, or even care about everything, but you don’t have to be cruel to those who do. Try letting stuff just roll off your back and go engage in something positive or useful, instead.

(Photo courtesy of Efraimstochter)

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