There’s no shortage of anonymous Internet trolls on sites like Reddit. Lurking is usually my method of choice when it comes to perusing social media, but when my puppy adoption piece went up, I was inspired to post it on r/dogs. In a matter of minutes commenters berated the piece, accusing me of being a lazy, immoral puppy mill supporter. In an hour, dozens more people chimed in with their own pompous monologues. Initially, I was upset by the reaction. But after skimming through the comments, I began to wonder: who has the time to sit around and write these?
Apparently, 18-35-year-old dudes. Unsurprisingly, since the front page is always peppered with soft-core porn, usually in the form of mirror selfies taken by twentysomething women or more professional pictures on the ever-classy r/gentlemanboners. Approximately 20 percent of Redditors are women. Admittedly, while reading the ridiculous commentary of my story, I pictured most of the people writing them as neckbeards sitting in their mom’s basement like the guy in the “World of Warcraft” episode of South Park.
I closed my laptop and quickly forgot about the trivial opinions of these trolls. Later that day I was in the waiting room of a doctor’s office, sitting behind a large, odoriferous man squawking into his cell phone. Offended on several levels, I turned around and looked at him, not knowing that it’d be the worst decision I’d make all week. His beady eyes widened and he paused in mid-sentence to say, “And to the dumb bitch that just gave me a dirty look, you can go ahead and fuck yourself!”
Incredulous, I looked around the room for sympathy. One woman glanced up from her iPhone, while the others continued gazing idly at the wall or their respective electronics. The man continued. “Yeah, you! You think you’re better than me? Well you’re not, bitch!” Annoyed, offended, and not wanting to say anything to further upset the angry, smelly man, I walked to the window where I’d been checked in and asked for help. The girls behind the desk continued droning into the phones that rested against their shoulders as they pecked away at their keyboards. Knocking on the window, I asked again. One of the girls looked up at me, back at the man who was still shouting profanities, and back down at her computer screen. I turned around to face my assailant. As I looked at him, dressed in blue sweatpants and a blue shirt that stretched over his belly like a convex drum, the mental image of those Reddit commenters came to mind. This man, I concluded, was braver than the online trolls. At least he had the nerve to offend me in person rather than typing it in a comment box.
I walked out of the waiting room to the parking lot for backup. I reluctantly explained the situation to my boyfriend, and he followed me back to the waiting room. The man clammed up until I was able to talk to one of the nurses when he said, “She gave me a dirty look!” Flustered, he was reminiscent of an oversized toddler. As I filled out permanent discharge paperwork, the embodiment of anonymous Internet trolls was called back to his appointment, mumbling, with fists clenched tight.
—Follow Sarah Grace McCarthy on Twitter: @birdy_grace