Leo Traynor is a blogger, analyst and political consultant based in Ireland, a few years ago, his Twitter account was targeted by some very offensive trolls who sent him vile anti-Semitic messages and other disgusting abuse.
Initially Traynor went through the process of reporting each and every abusive Direct Message he received on Twitter, the problem would go away for awhile, but it was never long before the trolls reappeared to make his life a misery.
He has written various blog posts about his experiences at the hands of the troll, in one from the 12th of August he expresses the opinion that the brand name of Twitter has been damaged by all the negative reports of trolling in the media and that they need to do something about it in order to repair the harm it has done to their reputation.
In another very moving post entitled “meeting a troll” Traynor elaborates on all the gory details of his troll torment and how he eventually managed to track the offender down and meet the person who had been making his life a misery for so long.
Traynor’s tale is brilliantly told, you can really sympathize with him for the things experienced by the blogger and his family. This was more than just a few horrible messages, this was death threats, disgusting images, taunts, persistent abuse and nasty packages sent to the house, no one should have to go through what the Traynor’s did.
One of the packages sent by the troll to the Traynor’s was a Tupperware box containing some ashes and a note saying “Say hello to your relatives from Auschwitz.” Traynor writes that he was physically sick upon opening this parcel and making the gruesome discovery and you can’t really blame him, that really is a different level of twisted.
Traynor was terrified, this meant the troll had his home address, the death threats suddenly seemed even more ominous and despite reporting these occurrences to the authorities, Traynor didn’t feel like there was much that they could do about it.
For weeks he lived in fear for his life, for his lives of his family, jumping at shadows and unable to think about anything else, before roping in the help of a friend who was an IT expert. This IT expert managed to trace the trolling down to 3 different IP addresses, 2 of those were from public wifi domains but the third turned out to be from the home of one of Traynor’s friends. It turns out that the troll that had been terrorizing his family for so long was actually the 17-year-old son of his friend.
After Traynor got over the initial shock of his discovery, he contacted his friend and they spoke at length about what to do. They decided to arrange a meeting, without letting the teenager know that his cover had been foiled.
At the meeting, after the small talk, Traynor took out a folder containing all the horrific messages and images he received and confronted the boy with them. As he showed him the contents of the folder, he elaborated on his horrific experiences, when he had finished talking, the troll burst into tears.
Traynor then put his hand on the boys shoulder and simply asked him “Why?”
To this the sobbing boy replied, “I don’t know. I don’t know. I’m sorry. It was like a game thing.”
The boy’s parents offered Traynor their full support should he want to get the authorities involved and prosecute their child, which is understandable considering the lengths he went to to harass them. However Traynor decided against that course of action.
Deciding he did not want to ruin the teenager’s future with a criminal record, he agreed with the family that he was going to write about the experience and that they would have to ensure that the boy got counseling for his problem.
The boy thanked Traynor for giving him a break and that was the moment that he shook hands with his troll.
While I think the sentiment behind Traynor’s decision not to prosecute the child is admirable, I doubt that many others (or I) would have been so forgiving. It is a harrowing tale of persistent torment and a stark example of the detrimental impact that trolling can have upon people’s lives.
Meeting a Troll (Via Leo Traynor)