I don't know if I could have been so nice

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I don't know if I could have been so nice

Postby Bouncy Castle » Tue Sep 25, 2012 12:54 pm

Leo Traynor, a "writer, analyst & political consultant" in Ireland, was hounded off of Twitter by a vicious anti-Semitic troll whose ghastly threats against him and his family were too much to bear. Traynor located his tormentor, though, and got quite a surprise.


Traynor's Eye
The view from Leo's Den. Life, as seen through my jaundiced eye...

Monday, 24 September 2012

Meeting A Troll...

I'm back on Twitter.

I can imagine the cries of 'I knew he wouldn't last!' from the Twitterati.

But give me a few minutes of your time and I'll tell you why I'm back and the real truth about exactly why I left in the first place.

In my blog of 12th August entitled 'Walking, Not Running' I talked about my time on Twitter and my basic reasons for leaving. I stand over a lot of what I said. The atmosphere there has changed and there have been negative stories in the media about trolling, etc, for months now. The brand has been damaged and Twitter needs to act fairly swiftly to repair it. At the time of writing that blog, for reasons that will become obvious, I was very sketchy about my own personal experience.

When I left Twitter numerous people thought it was as a result of an overreaction on my behalf. That my departure was a kneejerk reaction to a couple of 'trolling' or 'flaming' incidents or that I was attention seeking. The reality of the situation is that my wife and I were targeted for over 3 years.

It started in July 2009. I'd been on Twitter for over 2 years at that point having joined in May 2007, and I'd never had a problem. My account was followed by a fairly innocuous looking one which I followed back and within 10 minutes I had received a Direct Message (DM) calling me a 'Dirty f*cking Jewish scumbag'. I blocked the account and reported it as spam. The following week it happened again in an identical manner. A new follower, I followed back, received a string of abusive DM's, blocked and reported for spam. Two or three times a week. Sometimes two or three times a day. An almost daily cycle of blocking and reporting and intense verbal abuse. So I made my account private and the problem went away for a short while. There were no problems on Twitter but my Facebook account was hacked, my blog was spammed and my email address was flooded with foulmouthed and disgusting comments & images. Images of corpses and concentration camps and dismembered bodies.

Again, it eased off for a couple of weeks. I relaxed. Thought they'd finally tired of failing to get a reaction from me. Boy, was I wrong.

I didn't mention it to my wife. Didn't see the point of worrying her. But then she joined Twitter to see what it was like and grew to enjoy it. It wouldn't have been immediately obvious to outsiders that we were man and wife. She made the mistake though of changing her profile to state that she was 'The long suffering wife of @LeoTraynor'. Not a good idea. She received a DM stating 'Your husband is scum. A rotten b*stard and you're a wh*re.' She laughed it off. Blocked and reported and then the pattern started again. We got to the point of not accepting new followers at all and then one day my wife received a torrent of abuse via DM and on the timeline that was so vile she's never been on Twitter since - which is a real shame as she has so much to share and is far more interesting than I am.

People kept asking me 'Why you? Why would these guys want to have a go at you?' I couldn't answer them other than it was a couple of random nutters who didn't appreciate my political views or ethnic origins. Or even someone who couldn't solve my cryptic crosswords!

The whole thing escalated in June, July and August this year. I received more and more abuse on the timeline and via DMs. A crossword clue account I'd started (@Leo'sClue) was inundated with abuse too.

Then one day something happened that truly frightened me. I don't scare easily but this was vile.

I received a parcel at my home address. Nothing unusual there - I get a lots of post. I ripped it open and there was a tupperware lunchbox inside full of ashes. There was a note included 'Say hello to your relatives from Auschwitz' I was physically sick.

I was petrified.

They had my address.

I reported it to the authorities and hoped for the best.

Two days later I opened my front door and there was a bunch of dead flowers with my wife's old Twitter username on it. Then that night I recieved a DM. 'You'll get home some day & ur b**ches throat will be cut & ur son will be gone.'
I got on to the authorities again but, polite and sympathetic as they were, there didn't seem much that could be done.
Every night for weeks I lost sleep over it. Listening for noises. Opening the door everday with trepidation. Trying to maintain a semblance of normality and not let my wife or son see that I was dying on the inside. Mortified that they might be in danger because of my big mouth or ancestry.

Then the last straw. I received another tweet, on the public timeline this time 'I hope you die screaming but not until you see me p*ss on ur wife'

I closed my account immediately and swore I'd never go back, in spite of the friends I have there.

I made it clear that I would pursue the troll or trolls and that I would take action. What I didn't say though was that I'd already been pursuing them for weeks and had a very good idea where, if not who, they were.

In July I was approached by a friend, who's basically an IT genius, and he offered some help. He said that he could trace the hackers and trolls for me using perfectly legal technology, which would lead to their IP addresses. I said yes. Then I baited them - I was deliberately more provocative toward them than ever I'd been before.

Holidays intervened. My Twitter account was deactivated but before doing so I posted links to my Google+ account, blog and invited people to contact me on Facebook. I'm delighted that a lot of my lovely friends did. I'm also delighted that The Troll did too.

It transpired that the abuse had emanated from three separate IP addresses in different corners of Ireland. Two of them were public wifi locations but the third....

The third location was the interesting one.

The third location was a friends house.

The Troll was his son. His 17yr old son.

I was gobsmacked.

I spoke to my friend at length. He told me how his son was always glued to his laptop, tablet or smartphone. How he couldn't watch a TV show without tweeting about it simultaneously. About how he'd become engrossed in conspiracy sites. It also became clear that the other two IP addresses had been used by his son.

He was horrified at what his son had done. Horrified, but not surprised. He wanted to call the authorities there and then and turn him in. But I said no.

A couple of days after that conversation I met my friend, his wife and their son in a quiet and discreet location. The son, The Troll who almost driven me mad, was totally unaware that I'd be joining them.

I sat down and ordered a big pot of tea. "Do you still like choc chip cookies?" I asked The Troll and he nodded eagerly, a shadow of the little boy that was flickering across his face.

We had a chat. I told them about my wife and son. I told them about my recent illnesses and bereavements and about the builders having been in. I asked after their business and asked The Troll how college is going. All bright and breezy and a trip down memory lane. Then The Troll's Dad tipped me the wink and I opened my bag and took out my manila folder.

I showed The Troll's mother and father screengrabs and printouts of his handiwork.

I showed them pictures of ashes and dead flowers.

I pointed out that one of the messages my wife received wishing me dead had arrived when I actually was gravely ill.

I told them of how I'd become so paranoid that I genuinely didn't know who to trust anymore.

I told them of nights when I'd walked the rooms, jumping at shadows and crying over the sleeping forms of my family for fear that they would suffer because of me.

Then it happened...

The Troll burst into tears. His dad gently restraining him from leaving the table.

I put my hand on his shoulder and asked him "Why?"

The Troll sat there for a moment and said "I don't know. I don't know. I'm sorry. It was like a game thing."

A game thing.

So, that's what it was...

The Troll's mother said "If you want to call the Garda we'll support you in that. I'm ashamed of him."

I responded: "I'm not criminalizing a 17 year old kid and ruining his future. But I will write about it - and you must all guarantee me that he'll go and see a counsellor about this or I will go legal on you."

Then I got up to leave. I looked The Troll in the eye and said "Stand up."

He stood. I said " Look at me. I'm a middle aged man with a limp and a wheeze and a son and a wife that I love. I'm not just a little avatar of an eye. You're better than this. You have a name of your own. Be proud of it. Don't hide it again and I won't ruin it if you play ball with your parents. Now shake hands."

"I'm sorry." he said, and looked like he meant it. "Thanks for giving me a break dude."

Then we shook on it.

And that is how I came to shake the hand of a troll.



Don't know that I would be so magnanimous.
Some are born great, some achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon them.

The rest of us are a bit crap.
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Re: I don't know if I could have been so nice

Postby chris.ph » Tue Sep 25, 2012 2:37 pm

i would have punched him into next week, there is no way i could be that forgiving after somebody threatened my family
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Re: I don't know if I could have been so nice

Postby Bouncy Castle » Tue Sep 25, 2012 2:47 pm

I know. Incredible reaction, isn't it?

I admire the parents for saying they'd agree to take him to the police, but I really hope they take away all his internet capable equipment, for a very long time.
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Re: I don't know if I could have been so nice

Postby Jan Van Quirm » Tue Sep 25, 2012 2:59 pm

It's hard to know how to handle people like that - especially where the connection is actually so close to home. :shock:

I think, given the circumstances where he knew he had the full support of this nasty foul-minded little turd's parents, they actually played this exactly right and have taught him a really clever lesson in karma by playing him along like that and ultimately showing him that 'random' acts of abuse and torture of whatever stripe, is inhuman and reprehensible in every way imaginable :evil: . A sock in the jaw, or tit for tatting would not drive home that point half as well and in the less intelligent would probably only reinforce the prejudice and twisted kicks that people like this weirdo get out of 'anonymous' harassment.

Also knowing that they have all the cards still to ruin the rest of his stupid life is a rewardingly sharp and heavyweight sword of Damocles to hold over the pathetic little goit - I hope he learns the lesson so well he never does anything like this ever again, given that his parents stood shoulder to shoulder with Leo on this. :x
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Re: I don't know if I could have been so nice

Postby Dotsie » Tue Sep 25, 2012 3:03 pm

Man, I hope he gets all kinds of crap off his parents for this. I can understand Leo being nice about it, but if it was my kid he wouldn't see daylight for a very long time. And no phone or computer neither!
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Re: I don't know if I could have been so nice

Postby Tonyblack » Tue Sep 25, 2012 3:12 pm

I think that most of these trolls are pathetic individuals that don't have the guts to attack someone face-to-face. They hide behind the anonymity of the Internet and play at being bullies - probably because they were too scared to stand up to bullies in school.

There's no excuse for that sort of behaviour. I've experienced some of it myself with a couple of people on another message board. In the end I told them where to go and stopped posting there. These sort of idiots feed on reaction and if you starve them of attention they tend to give up and go away. :naughty:
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Re: I don't know if I could have been so nice

Postby Dotsie » Tue Sep 25, 2012 3:23 pm

The only reason I could find for being as nice as Leo about it is that he was a child when he started (and technically still, although at 17 he should definitely be aware of the consequences). Too often children are rewarded for bad behaviour, which is why his parents need to come down hard on him (and probably why Leo shouldn't - his parents will be far worse, but the repercussions won't last as long).
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Re: I don't know if I could have been so nice

Postby Joolz » Tue Sep 25, 2012 4:18 pm

Threaten and abuse me? Can cope with that Threaten my family...They'd never find all the bits
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Re: I don't know if I could have been so nice

Postby Catch-up » Tue Sep 25, 2012 5:16 pm

Wow. Three years of doing that makes it hard to believe he ended up in tears when confronted. Even a teenager has to know what kind of affect those horrible things would have on someone. I don't know that he did that boy any favors by not involving the police. He needs extensive therapy and I hope he gets it.
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Re: I don't know if I could have been so nice

Postby ShadowNinjaCat » Tue Sep 25, 2012 9:27 pm

It's scary thinking what some people will do behind user names and you might never guess it from them in real life. :?
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Re: I don't know if I could have been so nice

Postby chillicamper » Wed Sep 26, 2012 5:45 am

I'm not sure that I wouldn't have still asked his parent to involve the police. At 17 he must be aware of the consequences of his actions.

Whilst I sort of understand Leo not wanting to ruin a young persons future, I am not convinced that letting his parents deal with it (however harsh they be) will give him the right message. If you are messed up enough to think that scaring someone in that manner is fun, then you need much more help.
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Re: I don't know if I could have been so nice

Postby CrysaniaMajere » Wed Sep 26, 2012 7:36 am

I can't understand this. How could that be a game? I know there are a lot of bad things you can come across on the internet, protected by usernames and all that stuff, but sending things to his home address and life-threats of that kind to his wife??????
That's much more than a game, and it makes me think that he just played the boy-crying card to get away with it. I really hope the family will do something serious about it, 'cos that boy's sick.
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Re: I don't know if I could have been so nice

Postby Sister Jennifer » Wed Sep 26, 2012 8:59 am

Twitter has been around that long? I've never seen a tweet.

I was trying to keep an open mind to the whole situation until the kid said, "Thanks for giving me a break dude." Dude? That kid needs 7 kinds of b*llshit beaten out of him. The useless parents should be charged then publicly flogged for, 1: buying their young teenager a phone, tablet & laptop, & 2: allowing, and then not keeping an eye on what he was doing all the hours he spent on the internet.

Oops, I seem to have stepped on a soapbox.

Btw, Why are there random words coming up blue & underlined with pop-ups appearing when you put your cursor over them?
Last edited by Sister Jennifer on Wed Sep 26, 2012 9:37 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: I don't know if I could have been so nice

Postby Tonyblack » Wed Sep 26, 2012 9:37 am

Sister Jennifer wrote:
Btw, Why are there random words coming up blue & underlined with pop-ups appearing when you put your cursor over them?

Sounds like your computer has the sort of virus that Con's had here. :?
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Re: I don't know if I could have been so nice

Postby Sister Jennifer » Wed Sep 26, 2012 9:42 am

:( If it's not one bloody thing it's the other.

Thanks.
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