Or, How I Became Untrollable.
Since the beginning of time there have always been winners and losers. And as long as there are winners, there are haters. And a special type of hater: The Troll.
In Internet slang, a troll is someone who posts inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community, such as an online discussion forum, chat room, or blog, with the primary intent of provoking readers into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion. The noun troll may refer to the provocative message itself, as in: “That was an excellent troll you posted”.
On Twitter, it is common to see trolling of Canucks fans – intentional or not. Responses are typically emotionally charged – angry, spiteful, hurtful. There’s friendly chirping, then there’s the ludicrous. I always try to distance myself from too much emotion and control my reaction to troll attempts.
It’s great to be passionate and excited about life – family, work, sports, social – but when emotions cross over into anger, things get out of control very quickly in the heat of the moment.
I have a very real example of this. If you’ve known me for less than 15 years, you might not believe it.
I’m like Buddy Rich when I fly off the handle! – “Sabotage” Beastie Boys
From 1992 to 1998, I attended Simon Fraser University and completed my degree there. I’ve only played ice hockey a few times, but I have played floor hockey and street hockey since I was very little. Yes, even smaller than I am now. Maybe not the most skilled player, but I’m competitive and enjoy a good game. When I say competitive, I mean to say overly competitive and never liked to lose. I mean .. who really likes to lose?!
Now that the stage is set, I was involved in a ball hockey league at university. One game I happened to be in goal. That game I got lit up. Red-Light Racicot had nothing on me, direct it at the net and it had a chance to go in. Horrible game, and I actually thought I saw red. As soon as the final buzzer went, I tore off the goalie gear and headed for the exit. When I got to the door, I was really upset – pissed off in the worst way. I thought it might be a good idea to kick the door open. I thought it might be a good idea to kick the door open so hard that I would break the glass.
If you’ve ever seen these doors, they have a window in them from about 12 inches off the ground, about 10 inches wide. These windows go the height of the door, and have this wire-mesh glass in them.
In my rage, I kicked my leg through the glass, all the way about half way up my right thigh.
The glass mostly stayed put, and sliced my leg cleanly on both sides. When I pulled my leg out of the glass, I did even worse damage, and my right thigh was in shreds – literally falling apart.
I fell to the ground, bleeding profusely, trying to hold my leg together. Players from the game raced over, and saw my situation. I didn’t have to look at my leg to see how bad it was, I only had to look into their faces. All thoughts of the game were from my mind. The only thing that mattered at that time was to survive.
When I was admitted to the hospital, nurses and paramedics asked me how I did it, and what happened. I told them the truth: I was upset after a game, and kicked my leg through a door. When the doctor was stitching and stapling my leg together, he asked me the same questions. I have never felt so foolish in my life. I spent hours on that hospital bed getting my leg repaired. Plenty of time to think about my own stupidity, and plenty of reminders from the hospital staff.
To this day, I have the scars on my leg. If I’m in shorts, people occasionally ask what happened. All told, I have 3 large scars on my right thigh, and a couple smaller ones on my right shin. The glass sliced through some of my hamstrings and quadriceps, and the doctor told me that another inch over and I would have sliced right through the femoral artery, and probably would have bled out there, right on the gym floor.
What does this have to do with trolls?
Any time people attempt to troll me into an emotional response, I always think back to that time of my life. I always take the time to process what happened, and what my response should be. How does this person want me to react? Should I even react at all? The same process applies to immediate stresses at work, at home, and when I play any competitive sports at all.
Sometimes observing people on Twitter, it’s obvious. But other times, I often wonder if people have the same thought process that I do.
How do you react to bad situations? How many other people out there are super-competitive? Is winning everything? Does anyone really like to lose?