Tolerance for Trolls and Haters?

I started blogging pretty early on, back in the late 90s, getting a kick out of the internet’s ability to enable sharing of information with people around the world. With this, I struck up connections, and eventually even friendships and relationships with people in Australia, North America, and across the water in mainland Europe, to name a few. For a Commodore 64 kid from a coal mining town, this was pretty appealing.

I had college friends who thought it was weird to maintain a public online weblog, writing entries about my experiences I chose to share. I was surprised they even read it; I didn’t think I was important enough.

When I moved on to do a university-level degree, I continued blogging there too, again fellow students there noting that they did indeed read my opinions on my page, some even challenging me about them. Again, I was flattered that they even cared what I thought about our day-to-day experience in the halls of academia. I found some of their agitated responses funny, if anything. But after a while — especially having been harassed, stalked, and endured other forms of abuse — dealing with antagonistic reactions because of my blog became too unhealthily negative an activity for me, and as I became more politically engaged, I switched my focus to that rather than my personal life, unless I found I could make political points out of personal stories.

Into the 21st century, as my online presence became more about my newfound media activism, I still received remarks about the fact I maintained a blog; the idea that I would publicly share my points via the world wide web seemed strange to so many people. Later, Twitter launched what it referred to as its “micro-blogging” platform, with the rise of social media, and what I’d been doing all those years suddenly appeared like the most normal, basic thing in the world. It felt like everyone and their dog was doing it (no, really…some people were setting up accounts for their pets, after all!)

Truth be told, I’ve paid the price for drifting away from my anarchist roots and getting involved with people I had little in common with. But I don’t have to know them any more. Last year, I took a brief break from social media, and explained why on this very site.

I’ve also mentioned before on this site that, over the years, the haters seemed to be setting up franchises! This has continued in recent years, where the more I critiqued Thatcherite individualism, the more such individualistic people I’d known in my life seemed to scour my site for any references remotely connected to them; they even — unlike new website visitors and readers I generally try and write for — knew off by heart which recurring references and themes I featured in my writings; one scab (literally someone who crossed a picket line) even pathetically threatened me with legal action because they were so convinced the vague anecdotes I made were about their partner’s machinations (kind of proving their guilt, really!)

Sadly, a significant portion of my readers has been comprised of these people who hated me and my anti-capitalist world view. This was only more apparent when my website hits would spike whenever I added an entry to my Personal Blog, often greater in readership than my Political Analysis – a sad indictment of the culture, and — in tragic irony — evidence for my claims of the lingering stench of Thatcherite ideology.

Yes, those “franchises” are as strong as ever.

As mentioned, I decided a while ago that such negativity was unhealthy, and that it was much more productive to spend energies on engaging those you can talk to and convince of the anti-capitalist cause than engaging with capitalist bootlickers hoping to lure you in for a pointless one-to-one acrimonious argument of opposing philosophies ad nauseam – that sort of point-scoring is in itself a capitalistic competition. You don’t like me? Fine, move along — make room for the next in line.

But they don’t. And I can’t for the life of me understand it. I’ve had former friends fail to cite anything I’ve done wrong to them but instead admit they hate my anti-capitalist politics, some of whom have gone to great lengths to sabotage income streams of mine that I’ve never recovered from. And then I’ve had former friends invest immense time in slagging me off in different ways — one spent seven years on a publicly-funded theatre production with the main character based on me, according to people involved; another confessed to using me as inspiration for the character of a “self-righteous left-wing blogger” in their book. I have never sat through that play, or read that book. I’m not interested; it’s a waste of my time, nothing good can come from it, and these people aren’t important enough for me to care what clever or cutting inspiration they take from my very existence. They are, however, still free to spend their time including me in their art forms, just as I’m free to write about my opinions or experiences on my website, in my vlogs, or on my podcasts. But I never see anything these people do or know their opinions, until they eventually get in touch with me to attack me. And that’s why I’m finally addressing this, once and for all, and leaving it here for posterity.

A few years ago I heard a description of tolerance that resonated with me: If you don’t like someone, you leave them alone. I think that’s a fine rule of thumb. What kind of person goes out of their way to constantly pursue someone they hate? Other than, say, sociopaths? And that’s the thing: a lot of the above-mentioned people are types I may have known; some well, some not — but though some may have disappointed me with their actions or let me down in some way or betrayed my trust, whereas I’ve simply moved on and left them alone or even forgiven them, they’ve made a point of talking not about ideas, or even events, but about hating me; hating who I am at my core — my personality, and my principles (again without citing anything that I’ve done wrong; just…me). I get that I’m not going to be everyone’s cup of tea! But that resentment of me is a lot of poison to be carrying around in your system, surely. It just can’t be healthy having me live in your head rent-free like that when you resent me. A dear friend’s mother believes that people who expend energy hatefully hurting others have terrible realisations in their dying moments.

So, as Karl Popper rightly suggested, it’s important not to tolerate the intolerant. Because that will lead the world to a very dark place indeed, where the intolerant win; tolerance eradicated.

Haters gonna hate. I won’t stop doing my thing. And I won’t tolerate intolerance. Hey, the “block” feature is a very beautiful thing.

Now: go do something positive with your time, go undermine capitalism, and don’t forget to punch Nazis.

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