Early one morning, I came across an internet troll. He was picking apart a review I wrote about a book I found to be nostalgic. “There’s nothing nostalgic about this book,” he began while continuing to list out his reasons. He sounded so grumpy and ill-tempered. “Who is this person?” I asked myself, half awake. Upon looking at his page, I saw that his comment feed was littered with angry messages from other users. The energy was just awful.
It was really early when I came upon this situation, and honestly, the morning is not when I’m naturally inspired to be my best. I was a bit grumpy myself and was aggravated by this person who seemed to enjoy bothering people for no reason. But after about ten minutes, and after my morning grogginess began wearing off, I started to really think about this whole scenario. Here was a man who was spewing hate everywhere. From the looks of it, he spent his leisurely time provoking others and trying to get a reaction out of them. This is not the behavior of a healthy, happy, and whole person. It was clear that a part of him was miserable and despairing. I found his behavior to be an indirect cry for help. More than the normal person, this man needed more warmth, love and cheer in his life. He needed it desperately because he seemed so deeply planted in darkness.
Therefore, with my heart softened and clarified, I set about responding to his message in a better way. To the hateful, long paragraph he submitted to me, I responded with four different, distinct lines of praise, all complimenting his observations and even ending with, “You’re wonderful.” For good measure, I added a smiley face. I figured he really needed that smiley face.
After my response was submitted, I felt really good about what I had done. Instead of contributing to more hate, which is oh so easy to do, I wanted to try an experiment and respond with utter kindness. How would he react then? I imagine he would be completely baffled by my message and not know how to respond (he hasn’t). But hopefully, it would give him pause for just a moment and lift some of his heavy burdens of life. I enjoy giving people the element of surprise. I enjoy acting out of the ordinary. I enjoy doing the thing that is harder– and mostly, I enjoy knowing I’ve contributed to love instead of hate.
Deep down, and behind his actions, I know that there is an ailing being in there. When I contemplate his unhappiness, I find that his predicament is worthy of my compassion. I’m glad that I was taught not to be fooled by superficial behavior, but to look deeper. Much deeper. As I’ve quoted before, and will probably come to quote forever, “People need love the most when they deserve it the least.” -Unknown