Interview With a (Former) Internet Troll

Wow. Those r really bad and ur ugly.

Five years ago I got this comment, twice. 
Twice, about a minute apart. The second comment was anonymous. 
The first, had a name to it. 
I then did something incredibly stupid. I looked up the name and emailed the commenter. 
I wanted to know why she said that. I wanted to help her.
And somehow, over the years, we became online friends. She's 21 now.
Five years later, she agreed to be interviewed for my Internet Trolls series (read part 1 and part 2).
Here's what she said:

Interview has been condensed.

Me: So let's just get into it--and I'll let my readers know we have discussed all of this before--but when did you become an Internet Troll?

Her (we've both decided not to share her name): It's not like I set out to become someone like that...I was like 15 or 16 at the time, right? You remember this better than I do. I was like, a kid. Just being dumb.

Me: Is that why you started? Where did this come from?

Her: I didn't just sit down one day and say, "Hey, I'm gonna be a b*tch to everyone and say some sh*t to hurt people's feelings!" Like I said I was in high school. Honestly, I think I was like, bored or something. 

Me: How often would you leave mean comments? Was it daily? On blogs? Social media, or--

Her: It wasn't like, planned or anything. But yeah, I left them a lot but I didn't start off like that. I don't really remember. I'm pretty sure it was only on blogs and Youtube videos. I don't remember trolling social media or anything.

Me: We've discussed over the years about the things you said to others online. Why did you say those things?

Her: Where I would say those things...they were usually like my age or my whatever, like on Youtube. ....I got like this rush, sort of thing, when I would troll. It would make me feel better about my sh*tty life [Elle's note: her parents were divorcing at the time]. 

Me: What about the jealousy you've mentioned before?

Her: Oh yeah, there was that. I didn't think that was fair with these girls getting all of these things, like clothes and makeup, and it's not like I knew them so I didn't think anything bad of it.

Me: So let's skip to the part where I emailed you. What did you think of that? Do you remember your comment to me?

Her: I was scared, to be honest, like I was gonna get in trouble. "Like how did you figure it out?" is what I was wondering. I always used a fake name or no name. I read your email and didn't respond at first, but you wanted to know who I was, why I was doing this, and it made my feel like you cared, like what you said and stuff. I don't remember what I said to you or even the blog, even after you showed me the screenshot, you psycho, *laughs*.

Me: You eventually did respond, and I found out you were the same age as my youngest sister. I found out about your family's divorce and told you I had gone through that. I told you about that time I wanted to leave mean comments on a blog once and didn't. You've said I became a mentor to you [Elle's note: she eventually told her mom about what she was saying online, and that I had emailed her. I became acquainted with her mom (hey Her Mom!)]. And then you stopped being an internet troll. Can you elaborate on that?

Her: Yeah, you were able to make me realize like why I was saying those things. I wanted to be noticed. I wanted attention that I wasn't getting at home. It was a rough time then in my life, and I've like, grown so much now over the years. I've grown up. I'm not that girl anymore. I haven't done that in years. Like old news, people!

Me: You realized you were hurting people with your words, that those are real people--

Her: Yeah. I felt a little bad about it, and like you've said, like what if I heard those things about me?

Me: I'm just glad you stopped and that it didn't continue into adulthood. It's been a while since we've talked, so I'm glad to hear you're doing well! Thanks for taking the time to talk with me. Enjoy your holidays.

Her: Same to you! Thanks.

Have you ever encountered an Internet troll?
What would you ask someone who left rude comments?

Extra Elle:
Lots of giveaways going on that are ending soon:


  1. Wow! This is really enlightening. I appreciate that your friend decided to come forward and discuss the issue and why they said the things that they did.
    xo, Whitney and Blaire
    Peaches In A Pod

  2. Wow, Elle. Imagine how different things might have ended if you never would have had the courage to e-mail her and make that connection. We all have our struggles and sometimes the "mean girl" or the one who acts like she's invincible is the most vulnerable person of all and just really needs a friend and someone to help her. What a great story and I'm really loving and looking forward to the posts in this series. :)

  3. I give you major props for emailing her. Not sure I would have been able to do so and do it in a nice way. Very enlightening post. I always feel a bit sorry for the mean girl, as they are usually the ones hiding the most. Thanks for sharing this story.

  4. What an interesting story and insight! I've always assumed internet trolls have to have something going on in their lives or with their self-acceptance to feel the need to leave negative comments on social media. I am glad to hear you emailed her and she was able to find some resolution to her issues at home!

  5. Oh wow, Elle, first of all kudos to you for reaching out and showing that you care. And I'm glad that she came to a realization that it was hurting others and that she was actually acting out of unhappiness with what's going on in her life.

    Shireen | Reflection of Sanity

  6. Love the honesty...
    I hate that the younger kids today feel like its almost 'cool' to do that... or feels the need of an outlet to try & down others. But luckily, some grow out of it. Learn as you go, right?

  7. I love the way you handled this, I think it had more impact than you even know.
    I had a situation where a facebook frenemy (coworker) created a hidden FB group where she and her friends would mock people and share pictures. It involved my kids. I blocked her and and I'm not much more careful about what I share (it is even restricted to people I'm 'friends with) and I'm also careful about whom I'm friends with on social media.

  8. I love that at the end of this story you guys were able to build a friendship. There's usually a deeper side to why people are mean while hiding behind a computer or phone screen. So glad she grew up, and now understands how hurtful it can be. Awesome post <3
    Green Fashionista

  9. Wow, Elle--that takes some major guts. Way to corner her and work through that. And to Her, I'm so sorry for that stage of pain you were going through. I think very often harsh comments are masks for the pain people wear day to day. A little kindness goes a long way, eh?

  10. I think that it's so awesome that y'all ended up becoming friends after everything happened! It sounds like a lot of the time these things happen because of age and the idea that you can be anonymous no matter how mean a comment is.

  11. I have encountered Internet trolls a few times, and have found that it really reflects on what is going on with them, the ones I had were just sad and unhappy people. Glad that you shared this and that you were able to give the person some insight. Have a fab week, lovely. xx/M

  12. I am so glad you were the bigger person and became friends out of it. I have only had it happen once and I ignored them. Thanks for sharing this story!

  13. Wow I give you so much props for this!! Such an interesting read girl

  14. It's nice you reached out to her and found out why she said those things and helped her. I can see how someone seeking attention they aren't receiving at home would look for it other places, even if it's in a negative way

  15. I've encountered trolls before, and this was such an interesting read. I liked hearing why she said those things online, and major props to you for emailing her!


  16. It is interesting hearing it from a trolls perspective! I always say to myself, well that person is just jealous or miserable but honestly that is probably the truth. There is something going on in their own lives that make them want to bring other people down too. I think it is pretty cool that you two are now friends. Just shows what a caring person you are!

  17. Wow, Elle--that takes some major guts. Way to corner her and work through that. And to Her, I'm so sorry for that stage of pain you were going through. I think very often harsh comments are masks for the pain people wear day to day. A little kindness goes a long way, eh?

  18. I love this interview! It can be hard to remember that trolls are people, too, and probably going through something that makes them want to lash out. It's so cool that you two got to know each other despite the bad start!

  19. Major props to you for having the courage to confront that person and doing so from a kind, helpful place. Most people would have been combative. You are an awesome person and I'm glad to have you as a friend!

  20. This was an enlightening read! I love how you turned the situation around and actually became friends with her.

  21. you, my dear, are a badass! I love that you assertively took control of this situation and made it right, even though you were the one that was wronged. xx

  22. Love how you confronted her and amazing that you guys have now become friends...! This is super insightful and eye opening!

  23. You are so kind!, Elle. It is really eye-opening to think that others might say things just because they are hurting.

  24. I've encountered trolls on forums, but never on my own blog. To be honest I don't think I would be that bothered by somebody living such a comment if it only happened once in a while. If it was often then that would be harder!


  25. Wow so insightful and pretty much what I expected (the reasons for doing it in the first place). I think it's really cool you reached out and that you both become friends out of it. I've never experienced it myself and I hope I never do! I don't really know what I'd do in that circumstance.


  26. Great sharing. keep it up. very well written.

  27. This is so insightful and interesting to hear from her perspective. I think it's great that you reached out to her in a caring manner and got her to open up to you. How cool that you are friends now!

    Doused In Pink

  28. Oh, loooved that... the interview, I mean, and how she could see the reasons why she was doing so, leaving mean comments... so very nice that you emailed her and then you became online friends! I had one troll. For years. She pretended to be my friend, but every comment put me down, all about how she has this and that and I was late - and it was not true, she just wanted to put me down. Even if I were late, big deal. She had problems with her self esteem and did that to everybody. And through 10 emails a week as well. It was unbearable. So this year after June I finally could get rid of that!

  29. Oh, wow! What a great post! That's awesome!!

  30. Wow. I don't think I could have the courage to email an internet troll. I actually had a lady that was old enough to be my grandmother leave me a really ugly and mean comment. Situations like that make me wonder why she was so mean to me? I mean, she is so much older than me?
    Oh well, I guess I'll never know because I blocked her.
    This was really neat, Elle!
    xo, Lily
    Beauty With Lily

  31. That's interesting, I never thought of a troll being someone much younger or that they are going through something hard in life to make them say the hurtful things. and, if they didn't like you or your blog then why are they reading it if it turns them off that much? I think jealousy can be a big part of it. Very brave of you to email the troll and usually it is anonymous, so it's great that the first comment had her email!


  32. I love that a crappy situation turned into one where you could help her through a rough time!

  33. Wow! What a crazy story. I'm so glad she felt so cared about when you reached out to her. It sounds like you really impacted her in such a positive way!

  34. I'm so impressed that you took the high road in this situation.

  35. i think this is so awesome that you reached out and were the bigger/more mature person in this Elle. i'm sure you had a significant impact on her life and maybe one day she'll return the favour to someone younger making bad decisions.


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