Join 3,572 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Meeting A Troll
September 24, 2012 6:19 PM   Subscribe

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. Meeting A Troll.
posted by Foci for Analysis (131 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite

 
Dear me. That certainly isn't how I expected it to end. Very interesting, and I hope that all involved have some peace now. I think the author (and his friends) handled it well.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 6:24 PM on September 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


Great read. However, I continue to be a little infuriated about the co-opting of the word "Troll" to mean "Someone who abuses someone else on Twitter".
posted by Jimbob at 6:30 PM on September 24, 2012 [15 favorites]


The author is a champion. The boy didn't deserve that kind of clemency. For trolling, maybe, sure, but for the container full of ashes? I hope he caught hell from his parents. If he's not just a kid who came into bad company, then he's a sociopath and he's playing them all.
posted by Countess Elena at 6:40 PM on September 24, 2012 [8 favorites]


I continue to be a little infuriated about the co-opting of the word "Troll" to mean "Someone who abuses someone else on Twitter".

Why? Do you consider "troll" too mild a term? (I'm genuinely curious, not being snarky; I don't actually know what the definition of "troll" is anymore.)
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 6:40 PM on September 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Weird that it came from his friend's child. Usually these things are completely random or have a personal motive. Did I miss an explanation for this in the article? Was he just being mean-spirited to someone he knew vaguely? Was there an issue between his kid and the troll?
posted by anewnadir at 6:41 PM on September 24, 2012


I continue to be a little infuriated about the co-opting of the word "Troll" to mean "Someone who abuses someone else on Twitter".

Actually, that's much closer to the original meaning of "troll" than is commonly used these days.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:42 PM on September 24, 2012 [9 favorites]


anewnadir, there's no real explanation given:
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.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 6:43 PM on September 24, 2012


I think he was way too easy on his friend's kid. That was not just juvenile pranking. That was sociopathic behavior on a pretty grand scale. Now the kid knows he can get away with it by pretending to be sorry.
posted by rikschell at 6:44 PM on September 24, 2012 [19 favorites]


He really lost me here: "He wanted to call the authorities there and then and turn him in. But I said no." I suspect this will prove to be the wrong choice.
posted by Houstonian at 6:46 PM on September 24, 2012 [29 favorites]


Hurdy gurdy girl - the classic definition of an Internet troll is someone who espouses positions they don't necessarily believe for the express purpose of provoking arguments. This appear to be more a case of stalking and cyber-bullying.
posted by tdismukes at 6:46 PM on September 24, 2012 [24 favorites]


God what a dummy for not busting this kid.
posted by Jeff Mangum's Penny-farthing at 6:47 PM on September 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Why? Do you consider "troll" too mild a term?

I do. My understanding of troll, as handed down in ancient Internet and BBS lore, is "One who deliberately tries to inflame debates by posting knowingly false/controversial statements that they themselves don't believe." Not someone who threatens to kill your wife and sends a box of ashes to your home.
posted by Jimbob at 6:48 PM on September 24, 2012 [37 favorites]


Time will tell if it was the right decision.

What's the statute of limitations on prosecution? If you're going to give him some rope, check it before limitation exprires.
posted by tilde at 6:49 PM on September 24, 2012


He chose a half measure.
posted by hellojed at 6:51 PM on September 24, 2012 [10 favorites]


Giving the kid a break was menschy. It's possible that the kid will just let out a sigh of relief and then turn to his next target, but I prefer to look at that move as a paragon of turning the other cheek. And sometimes it works just as it's intended, having a far more disturbing (in the literal sense, not bad) effect on the perpetrator's character and life than comeuppance would.

In a different context and certainly less grave, when I worked retail we tried never to call the police on shoplifters below a certain age. We always tried to call the parents instead. If there were aggravating circumstances we'd call the police, or if we couldn't reach the parents we'd call the police, but we tried not to. Having said that, "below a certain age" did not cover seventeen.
posted by cribcage at 6:51 PM on September 24, 2012 [8 favorites]


I hope the parents take it very seriously for whatever remaining time they have the kid in their house. Is there only one victim, or are there others? Does he bully schoolmates?

I hope they can help their kid fly right, but who knows what else they don't know that he's doing.
posted by Mad_Carew at 6:55 PM on September 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's possible that the kid will just let out a sigh of relief and then turn to his next target, but I prefer to look at that move as a paragon of turning the other cheek.

We have no insight into what punishment that kid received from his own parents. Odds are pretty good that they didn't let that slide.
posted by mhoye at 6:56 PM on September 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


Yeah. Personally, I would have gone the legal route. I've seen too many people's messed up by egomaniacal monsters who weren't stopped when they could have been stopped. Any kid who's old enough and consistent enough to send people packages full of ashes with anti-Semitic references, make incredibly personal and violent threats to specific individuals and keep this up for so long isn't going to change because he gets busted in a particularly humiliating way. If you're old enough to understand the lingering effects of the Holocaust, you're way beyond old enough to know better.

I appreciate the author's attempt to give the kid a second chance - normally I'd be all for that. But this rises to a level of psychopathy that really makes me believe it was an incredibly bad choice.
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 6:57 PM on September 24, 2012 [7 favorites]


The question is not "Why?", but "Are you doing this to anyone else?". Getting the parents involved was a good idea, but I would think a full investigation of this young man's Internet history would be in order. Verbal bullying is bad enough, but sending threatening packages to someone's house crosses a serious line.
posted by AndrewStephens at 6:58 PM on September 24, 2012 [16 favorites]


As far as I can tell, the current meaning of "troll" for the majority of English-speakers is "someone who was mean to me on the internet."
posted by straight at 6:58 PM on September 24, 2012 [12 favorites]


He should have recorded the confession with the approval of the parents and called the police. It's tragic that they think this kid is just going to stop all of a sudden.
posted by Malice at 6:58 PM on September 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


And this, son, is why you're stuck with a keylogger on all your devices as long as you're under my roof.
posted by mullingitover at 6:59 PM on September 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


You give a kid some slack if he is caught shoplifting or gets into a fight or has a fender-bender.

You do not give a kid some slack if he runs a months-long terror campaign of hateful messages and graphic threats.
posted by Jeff Mangum's Penny-farthing at 7:00 PM on September 24, 2012 [11 favorites]


If this happens to you, and you don't have a handy IT friend that works for free, call a private investigator.
posted by Brocktoon at 7:00 PM on September 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


It went on for 3 years??? Yeah, something is deeply wrong with this kid.
posted by desjardins at 7:03 PM on September 24, 2012 [8 favorites]


I don't understand why Leo and his wife think they have to follow everybody who follows them on Twitter. They were consistently giving up any chance to not be harassed.

And then they just let the kid go?

I really feel that Leo Traynor is failing at being an adult in charge of his own life. His self-martyring is actually pissing me off.
posted by faster than a speeding bulette at 7:04 PM on September 24, 2012 [6 favorites]


You know, part of me winced when I saw he just automatically followed people back on Twitter and opened himself up to that sort of thing. I'm pretty particular about who I follow (and I block about twice as many people/accounts as I let follow me, either because they're spammers or because they're just plain awful) because I want my playground to be mine.
posted by beaucoupkevin at 7:04 PM on September 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


Yeah, something is deeply wrong with this kid.

And he likely needs more help fixing it than most parents, and specifically his parents, can give. To me the story does not have a good ending.
posted by benito.strauss at 7:07 PM on September 24, 2012


I don't understand why Leo and his wife think they have to follow everybody who follows them on Twitter.

Twitter is a thing that you can use however you want, I guess. But yeah. I always found that sort of behavior to indicate a profound misunderstanding of how to use Twitter. Facebook is about "friends" - friend people back, sure. Twitter is about reading interesting things and following interesting people. I don't assume I'd be interested in what everyone who follows me has to say. I don't assume everyone I follow would be interested in what I have to say. Keep things on a professional level.
posted by Jimbob at 7:08 PM on September 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


the cops should be involved. it seems strange that leo would prioritize his wife and child's safety (and the safety of who knows who else) lower than a second chance for a deeply disturbed teenager. my brother is a psychopath. as a younger child i couldn't understand all the adults that looked at his heartless (and sometimes criminal) actions and always brushed them off with his youth.
posted by nadawi at 7:09 PM on September 24, 2012 [5 favorites]


That kid sounds seriously mentally ill. I'd be very afraid of what happens next if I were his parents - it goes way beyond "a game thing". Not at all clear that he's really doing the kid a favor by not pursuing it further and one certainly hopes the parents do more than slap his hand.
posted by leslies at 7:12 PM on September 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


I've gotta say...it probably would have been better to have a police record of this...so when it happens again the pattern is clear.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 7:13 PM on September 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


Yeah, something is deeply wrong with this kid.

And he likely needs more help fixing it than most parents, and specifically his parents, can give. To me the story does not have a good ending.


I agree that this is not just in a different weight class than typical antisocial teen behavior; it's not even the same sport.

If this is how this kid spent ages 14-17, I shudder for the first girl (or boy) who breaks up with him once he gets to college. I hope the parents are keeping a hawk's watch and getting him into therapy ASAP.
posted by availablelight at 7:13 PM on September 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


I responded: "I'm not criminalizing a 17 year old kid and ruining his future."

Prosecuting someone who threatened to kill you and your family isn't "criminalizing" him. He "criminalized" himself and ruined his own damn future.
posted by Jeff Mangum's Penny-farthing at 7:14 PM on September 24, 2012 [8 favorites]


I am curious about several things which seem odd :

1. Three years of terror including threats of physical violence and he decided not to prosecute ???

2. How do you determine that an IP address came from your friend's house WITHOUT getting a court order to compel the ISP to disclose subscriber information.

3. How does an "I.T. genius" friend get an I.P. address from a facebook message ???

4. Does it really make sense that the first action of the father of the bad child would be to turn the child over to the authorities to face what could well be a pretty heavy charge? No shielding of the child instinct there at all??

I found the story engaging and fascinating but the questions that it poses are - to me - disturbing. Perhaos there is someone out there who can answer some of them?
posted by Podkayne of Pasadena at 7:15 PM on September 24, 2012 [26 favorites]


I doubt this kid was acting alone: trolling is a performance art, and you need an audience. It is highly likely he and a circle of friends were, with much adolescent giggling, egging one another on about what to say and do next. A group hobby. The likely lesson learned will be to pick targets further from home.
posted by kithrater at 7:16 PM on September 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


It seems odd that he wouldn't have dug deeper to get a why. Also, is the kid antisemitic, or was he just doing that for maximum shock affect (not that is matters, but it kinda does)? Also, it seems highly likely he wasn't the kid's only victim. As part of his penance, and for my blog post, I would have forced the kid to come clean about his other attacks. Perhaps he's withholding info to protect the parents. The story seem sadly incomplete...
posted by littlemanclan at 7:16 PM on September 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


oh and that crying when you know you're caught and looking really distraught and promising reform - in my experience it's all bullshit. maybe the parents kept suggesting the cops because there's other behaviors they feel unable to call the cops over, but they're worried. when my dad finally called the cops on my brother everyone said my dad was a monster, but i had never been more relieved.
posted by nadawi at 7:17 PM on September 24, 2012 [12 favorites]


3. How does an "I.T. genius" friend get an I.P. address from a facebook message ???

You send this person a private message with a link to a page on a webserver. You check the logs on that server, and assume that the person you sent the message to was the first/only person to visit the link.

However, going from an IP address to a street address would seem to involve something darker.
posted by Jimbob at 7:22 PM on September 24, 2012


I think of trolls as people who use sock puppet accounts to demonstrate fake social proof for the purpose of causing harm. Like the trolls that made The Troll a troll. But he probably ran into real deal racist nuts. I watched the scene where Borat is in The Running of a Jew, and the whole theater was laughing, since it was funny in a bad way to them but it skipped over their barriers. Sick. (Unless they were just laughing at other people who hate. Who knows.)
posted by saber_taylor at 7:26 PM on September 24, 2012


The kid is right about it being a game thing. I can't tell you how many bouts of Hungry Hungry Hippos end with a lively cross burning.
posted by dr_dank at 7:42 PM on September 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


Yeah, the whole "MY IT GENIUS BUDDY TRACED HIS HOME ADDRESS BY HACKING THE MAINFRAME" thing is, like, probably a sensationalized way of saying the kid was posting things with geotagging enabled, or some such idiocy.

Oh, and saber_taylor, I don't understand what you're getting at. I laughed like an idiot, along with the rest of the theater, at that Running of the Jew bit, and I'm Jewish, as is Sacha Baron-Cohen himself. There are indeed many bad people out there who genuinely do want to cleanse the earth of us, and one way to deflate the bad stuff is through mockery and caricature. (We heil! thbbptbp! Heil! thphbtpbp! Right in der Führer's face!)

If you're trying to say "casual parody encourages the normalization of hate", that's a debate you probably don't want to start here... I think pretty much the issue at hand here is that the troll kid needs serious help or he'll hurt people throughout his life, and it might escalate.
posted by jake at 7:49 PM on September 24, 2012


... going from an IP address to a street address would seem to involve something darker.

In this case, after obtaining some candidate IP addresses for the troll the IT guy probably did something like search for these IP addresses in various records available to the victim. For example, he could have searched the headers of every e-mail received by the victim for a matching IP address or the logs for the comments posted to the victim's blog, etc. It's often not too hard to determine to whom an IP address is assigned if that person is in frequent electronic contact with you (in this case the victim's friend and the troll (his son) would likely have shared an IP address.
posted by RichardP at 7:49 PM on September 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


ohgodohgodohgod...

this story really brought out my fears. I have never been in this situation but the way the author tells it... how anyone, not just famous people or extreme people or people who are surrounded by school bullies, etc., can be targeted in this way.

so if/when that happens to me... what do I do? Please, are there internet resources? Will the FBI help? Can I patriot act somebody? In my opinion, stuff like this definately qualifies as "terrorism" more than foreigners hatching foreign plots - this is literally something that makes people feel terror, in their beds, at night, not knowing at all the depravity and danger that they could - or could totally not - be in.
posted by rebent at 7:50 PM on September 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


3. How does an "I.T. genius" friend get an I.P. address from a facebook message ???

Maybe they matched the IP address of The Troll with the IP address from posts made by the friend?

But yeah, this story is just disturbing no matter how you try to slice it.
posted by insert.witticism.here at 7:52 PM on September 24, 2012


Or what RichardP said.
posted by insert.witticism.here at 7:53 PM on September 24, 2012


from article: "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."

The father knew what was best for his son. This guy did not. I feel terrible at what this poor man went through, but formal legal discipline is the only route to rehabilitation for a kid this messed up.
posted by koeselitz at 7:55 PM on September 24, 2012 [6 favorites]


I'm going to add a #5 here as well....

#5. How come someone so apparently traumatized (per the story) by his internet experience still manages to maintain an internet presence on Vimeo, Twee, Twitter, Scribd, Facebook, Google+, Wordpress, Twitvid ... and a whole lot more. I mean I guess he could have got over it - it has been a month already...
posted by Podkayne of Pasadena at 7:57 PM on September 24, 2012


formal legal discipline is the only route to rehabilitation for a kid this messed up.

I thought the conventional wisdom on MeFi was that the US prison system was punitive and not rehabilitative so that putting this young man in the legal system would only make him a hardened criminal for the rest of his days.
posted by Tanizaki at 7:58 PM on September 24, 2012 [9 favorites]


I agree the author was overly lenient. But one mitigating factor might be how easy it is to not think of the people at the other end of an internet connection as real people but as icons, as the author suggests. Perhaps the author was also eager not to reinforce to the impressionable kid the image of the vindictive Jewish person (as in Shylock and his pound of flesh, etc.) There could be a lot about the situation that we're missing by viewing at 3rd hand, not knowing the people.
posted by Schmucko at 8:01 PM on September 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


jake, I misinterpreted the laughter then. I didn't think it was funny, so I didn't understand why everyone else did.
posted by saber_taylor at 8:02 PM on September 24, 2012


Even if my child was accused of killing someone by my best friend I would still get his tush to a lawyer before I handed him over to the authorities. I think that most people would . Of and by itself that means noting at all... but when you look at the whole picture and add in what looks like the author developing a rather formidable internet presence along numerous platforms ... along with this compelling story which no one can prove because no one was ever prosecuted .... well ... ahem ....
posted by Podkayne of Pasadena at 8:02 PM on September 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


the US prison system

Yeah, but the UK legal system is full of wry, colourful crims, all of who have hearts of gold, will teach this young urchin the finer points of pickpocketing through an endearing song.

No idea if the Ireland the author refers to in the article is UK Ireland or not.
posted by kithrater at 8:02 PM on September 24, 2012 [8 favorites]


I'm pretty sure the victim's friend and the troll live in Ireland as two of the troll's IP addresses were public wifi locations in Ireland and the mother of troll says ("If you want to call the Garda we'll support you in that").
posted by RichardP at 8:05 PM on September 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Three years of trolling from a teenage boy. Pffft amateurs.

I was stalked publicly for about 7 years by a demented adult, a Usenet Kook Of The Month. He didn't hide his identity or what he was doing, and he went around and harassed my professors and my professional contacts and bragged about it. It was extremely intense, to the point where I once got an email from a grad student in England, asking if he could interview me and make my suffering the subject of his MA thesis in comm studies. I declined and said nothing good could come from it.

I never ever responded to the harasser, no matter how severe the provocation, although he stalked my every comment, poisoning every discussion. I know of one serious scholarly forum that shut down because of his trolling. I avoided connecting with sites like this, which were the most important online resources in my field, so he wouldn't follow me there. But he knew me well enough to know what resources I needed, and went there to ruin them before I got there. He succeeded.

But when he decided to harass my professors and started asking for my home address, I decided I had enough. I contacted the local police. They said they could do nothing. Idiots.

Then one day out of the blue, I got an email from a fellow claiming to be an ex-cop and PI. He said he specialized in online harassment cases, and he had been watching what was happening to me. He said my case was the worst he ever saw, why wasn't I doing anything about it? I said I tried but the cops did nothing. He said he had extensive contacts in State and Federal law enforcement and he knew how to handle cases like this. He would help me out, just to see the bully taken down.

The PI checked out the harasser, it turned out this guy was already on probation from two other online harassment cases. It turns out that I knew one of the guys he was convicted of harassing, he was in my professional online circle, but had disappeared from online discussions after receiving some of the same harassment. I talked to him, he said he lived in the same town as the harasser, and slept with a pistol under his pillow because of this guy.

The PI said he would make sure the guy's local police knew the details of his probation violations and continuing harassment, and he knew how to make sure the cops would take it seriously. Then he mentioned he had a friend who lived in the harasser's town, he was a PI, an ex-Marine nicknamed "Tiny" and he could visit the guy and convey my "compliments." I said I don't consent to any such tactics, that would make me as bad as him, so I absolutely insist you never mention anything of that sort to me again. That was the last I ever heard from the ex-cop PI, he said the situation was handled.

Through means unknown (and that I don't really want to know) the harassment stopped instantly. The guy has never ever appeared on the internet again. I think it's been over 10 years.
posted by charlie don't surf at 8:27 PM on September 24, 2012 [16 favorites]


Never call the cops. 911 is for the fire department if your house is on fire and an ambulance if someone is hurt.
posted by 445supermag at 8:33 PM on September 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Crime-in-progress when you are out with your kids and unable to get involved safely (I am assuming with your username you are carrying all the time)?
posted by mlis at 8:36 PM on September 24, 2012


445supermag, I'm assuming you're American, from your profile location. I sympathize and understand, if I don't quite agree, but these are the Irish police, not Americans.
posted by Countess Elena at 8:38 PM on September 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


straight: "As far as I can tell, the current meaning of "troll" for the majority of English-speakers is "someone who was mean to me on the internet.""

I always thought that trolls were better classified as "mostly harmless but extremely annoying." Basically, it's the guy at the party who tells too many fart jokes.

This is harassment and abuse, and is not anywhere nearly as typical or widespread as the author of this article seems to believe.

But, really, I very much doubt that this post is authentic. The details just don't add up, and it's part of a very new blog.
posted by schmod at 8:42 PM on September 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


Don't be ridiculous. Must you be so literal? I didn't call the cops. I walked into the station and asked to speak to an officer.
posted by charlie don't surf at 8:44 PM on September 24, 2012


Tanizaki: “I thought the conventional wisdom on MeFi was that the US prison system was punitive and not rehabilitative so that putting this young man in the legal system would only make him a hardened criminal for the rest of his days.”

Yes, that is the consensus. I think I agree, to a certain extent. I will say that if the US government initiates any attempt to have this Irish boy extradited, I would fight it, mostly because there are no grounds for a US court to try him, since he did nothing wrong within US borders.

Even if he lived in the United States, however, it would almost certainly be better to contact the authorities. The US prison system is royally fucked up. But that does not mean that all rule of law goes out the window; and it should be said that kids in this demographic (wealthy enough to be connected to gadgets all the time, with two parents who are attentive and around) are the ones most likely to come out of it okay.

As I said, the kid's dad has the right impulse. Kid needs to learn that there are some things that society will not let you do; and he needs to talk to professionals and work it out. And those aren't things parents can provide on their own.
posted by koeselitz at 8:47 PM on September 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


What a terrifying story. And God, it seems like a prime candidate to be "adapted" for a Law & Order: SVU episode.

I mean, it's nice that Mr. Traynor is giving this kid a second chance... but I can't help but think of what some of my more cynical, older, conservative friends would say about this guy. They'd probably say he was a deluded European bleeding heart and this kid should go to prison. Usually I'm a bleeding heart myself, but... fuck this kid. What a nasty sociopathic asshole, and at 17 he is definitely old enough to know right from wrong. He's not going to get better when he gets older.

I shudder to think what he'll be like in a few years.
posted by suburbanbeatnik at 8:59 PM on September 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think all kids come to a point in their lives when they realize that other people - adults in particular - aren't invulnerable punching bags that can absorb negative energy without consequence. It's like a switch that clicks, when empathy kicks in for the first time, like breathing kicks in outside the womb.

Some people have it from the start. Mine was slapped into action when I was an early teen, after I got caught distributing some extraordinarily, personally insulting flyers about teachers I'd anonymously printed up in an attempt at popularity. That, too, was just a game. I'd call that trolling too, of an analog kind. It simply hadn't occurred to me that it was possible to hurt a teacher's feelings. But I still wince to think of the hurt behind the anger quivering on that teacher's face, waiting for me in the principal's office, twenty years ago. It was like a light going on. I was made to apologize in person, in writing, and then in front of the classes in question. But mostly, what I remember is the teacher I'd insulted, having interviewed me and read my profuse apology, squeezing my hand before leading me in for the public apology, and telling me it would be alright.

This is all to say that I'm not in a position to say whether or not that kid should have been sent the institutional route for this. But sharp awakenings can last a lifetime, and forgiveness can be a powerful thing.
posted by bicyclefish at 9:08 PM on September 24, 2012 [43 favorites]


How come someone so apparently traumatized (per the story) by his internet experience still manages to maintain an internet presence on Vimeo, Twee, Twitter, Scribd, Facebook, Google+, Wordpress, Twitvid ... and a whole lot more.

The author says that he used his other accounts as honeypots to gather more information.
posted by oneirodynia at 9:11 PM on September 24, 2012


That story is all too tidy. Something's off there.
Maybe the story is "true", but something about it has my spidey senses tingling.
posted by roboton666 at 9:37 PM on September 24, 2012 [11 favorites]


You guys are tough. From the Illustrated Criminal Law post I learned that for most criminals it is a one time thing due to stupidity or desperation. Most people are so humiliated by being caught then never do anything again.

If it had turned out to be an adult with a grudge, that is when I would call the cops. This is a kid who doesn't even know why the hell he is doing it. I wouldn't call the cops, I would probably put the kid in therapy.
posted by Ad hominem at 9:43 PM on September 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


He's not talking about ruining his life in the way people here are thinking, ie a criminal record. He's talking about socially ruining his life. Ireland is very, very small and social networks are important to people. There is no "going off" to college, many kids live at home or at most go a couple hundred miles away (and that's not even that easy geographically speaking) and after that you stay where you went to college or you go home. There's no moving to a new city and reinventing yourself. There will undoubtedly be other people from his home town nearby wherever he lives for the rest of his life unless he emigrates which he can't do with a criminal record. So if he had been arrested for this, everyone he ever met for the rest of his life would probably either know or hear about this story within a short time.

I imagine that's why he stood to give him a second chance, not because the Irish prison system is so terrible (it's not).
posted by fshgrl at 9:47 PM on September 24, 2012 [12 favorites]


I suspect that the seventeen year old has little sense of the exact nature and significance of his pranks. I'm not making any excuses for his behavior, but, perhaps, he is too unsophisticated to understand anti-semitic/holocaust history?
posted by captainsohler at 9:55 PM on September 24, 2012


Yeah. Personally, I would have gone the legal route. I've seen too many people's messed up by egomaniacal monsters who weren't stopped when they could have been stopped. Any kid who's old enough and consistent enough to send people packages full of ashes with anti-Semitic references, make incredibly personal and violent threats to specific individuals and keep this up for so long isn't going to change because he gets busted in a particularly humiliating way.

Agreed. And I'd be shocked if the author weren't the only focus of this young man's attention.
posted by orrnyereg at 10:11 PM on September 24, 2012


It was William Penn that said ”If you protect a man from folly, you will soon have a nation of fools.“ To my way of thinking, you did this kid no favor whatever by letting him not experience full consequences for three years of brutal and vicious behavior. At best, he will remain a fool, at worst...
posted by jcworth at 10:15 PM on September 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


I am probably a softy. I know at least by American standards he is a juvenile. I think, but might be wrong, that in the US he would'nt end up in jail, and his records would be sealed. I think this is a kid acting out, not even in a generally destructive way, but a very targeted personal way that should be explored in therapy. Didn't anyone else here do stupid things when you were young? Presumably some of us did and we turned into generally responsible adults.
posted by Ad hominem at 10:27 PM on September 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Charlie Don't Surf: How do you know the "PI" wasn't the online stalker doing one last prank?
posted by benzenedream at 10:37 PM on September 24, 2012 [6 favorites]


I think, but might be wrong, that in the US he would'nt end up in jail, and his records would be sealed.

This is not true in many, possibly most, US jurisdictions. A 17 year old, especially one charged with a crime like this one, would be very likely to end up charged as an adult, facing adult court and adult jail time, at least on the later, more egregious counts. In most US jurisdictions, a 17 year old charged with a felony is treated as an adult, often automatically and without any recourse to challenge that classification. Even if he were charged as a juvenile, he could still end up imprisoned, but charged as an adult, he could face years in jail.

In DC, where I live, stalking is punishable by up to a year in jail for each count. There is also a law making it a felony to intentionally threaten people with kidnapping or bodily injury, with a punishment of up to 20 years in jail for each count. Most states have similar statutes, and while punishments vary, those sentences would not be unusual. And even if he merely got probation or community service, he would have a criminal record, likely forever. There are many states in which felony convictions can never be sealed. In fact, in New York, among many other states, even misdemeanor convictions follow you forever. In some places, he might be able to get some relief as a youthful offender and eventually have his records sealed, but it's not automatic, and given the nature of the charges, he might be turned down. He could end up serving years in adult prisons with little or no treatment for the issues that led to the behavior in the first place, then treated as a pariah for the rest of his life thereafter.

Once the police are called, the complainant has almost no control over how the case progresses. If you report someone, what police and prosecutors and judges and juries decide to do is out of your hands, and you can't later decide that you'd rather the kid just get counseling. I have no idea whether the system is like in Ireland is anything like this. But I can tell you that in the US, under the same facts, I would not report this to the police, given what I know about what happens to children who get swept up in the criminal justice system here.
posted by decathecting at 11:15 PM on September 24, 2012 [9 favorites]


This is not true in many, possibly most, US jurisdictions. A 17 year old, especially one charged with a crime like this one, would be very likely to end up charged as an adult, facing adult court and adult jail time

Thanks.

If this happened to me I could not send him to jail. It seems incredibly disproportionate.
posted by Ad hominem at 11:27 PM on September 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


my stupid things never included carrying on a weekly, and sometime daily, torrent of abuse towards a man and then his family for three years. above and beyond the ashes and flowers, these are the things we know he said and did:

"Dirty f*cking Jewish scumbag"


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.

"Your husband is scum. A rotten b*stard and you're a wh*re."

"Say hello to your relatives from Auschwitz"

You'll get home some day & ur b**ches throat will be cut & ur son will be gone.

I hope you die screaming but not until you see me p*ss on ur wife
this is not a boy out for a joyride, or a kid who gets caught peeping on the babysitter. this isn't even someone who bullied a girl he liked or someone weaker than him for popularity. this guy is potentially really fucked up. his dad knows it. he was "Horrified, but not surprised" to learn of the death threats and racist and sexist abuse his son had levied at a family friend for years.
posted by nadawi at 11:36 PM on September 24, 2012 [12 favorites]


this guy is potentially really fucked up.

Right, he might be really fucked up. I'm not saying anything he did here was good. I just wouldn't call the cops if he could end up in jail, with god knows what happening to him in there. I don't think that would teach him anything.

To me, stealing a car, peeping on the babysitter, or bullying are worse. Bullying causes real physical harm to someone likely as ill-equiped as him. Stealing a car can cause real financial hardship to the people he stole it from. Peeping on a babysitter seems to me a bigger violation than even the meanest twitter DMs.

What he did was certainly wrong and bad and terrible. But I think he needs counseling to make some sort of change, not to be locked away.
posted by Ad hominem at 11:48 PM on September 24, 2012


i wouldn't call the cops for what he did to me, necessarily, but for what he's likely doing to others. if he has that sort of anger that he can easily direct at an old family friend, imagine a girl who turns him down or a kid left in his care. what he did was a crime many times over. do you wait until he commits a "bad" crime - where is that line? does threatening to slit the throat of your wife not rise to that level?

so many people let things my brother did slide because they thought he was just making silly boyhood mistakes and that he needed more church or counseling or a stronger hand at home or more leniency. what those adults didn't know was that he was beating us bloody and molesting me for years.

showing this sort of viciousness is troubling and he's too old to fall back on just being a kid. part of reporting crime is protecting other victims. if this looked like a one time thing or a bad summer, ok - forgiveness, let the family handle it, etc. i get all that and i agree with it. this isn't that.
posted by nadawi at 11:59 PM on September 24, 2012 [7 favorites]


charlie don't surf's story makes me think. I've never had that kind of threats levied at me or been stalked, but I've got a family with small children, so I think I'd be very upset if something like that happened. If the police would have just brushed me off, I would have to seriously ponder where I draw the line regarding self-defence. When is enough enough when somebody is saying they are plotting to kill you and your loved ones?
posted by Harald74 at 12:20 AM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Anything he did to other people isn't in evidence here. If this is a pattern with multiple people or he was pysically threatening others it might change my mind. But we don't know that so I'm just going by what is in the article.

I don't think it makes sense to discuss what he might do in the future. Any one of us here might commit a crime. As I learned in that criminal justice thread most people don't do a risk/reward analysis before commiting a crime, the are likely driven to it by external factors. I think, unless the goal is to lock him away for good, making him unemployable might drive him to commit more crimes in the future just to survive.

I think there is a reason he targeted his father's friend and he needs to figure it out. I think Leo want's some sort of punishment, they can and should work somthing out where he works at a soup kitchen, or better yet a Jewish community center, or somehow helps people.
posted by Ad hominem at 12:20 AM on September 25, 2012


Let me also say everything I am saying is predicated on Leo knowing it was the 17 year old son of a family friend. Before he knew, while he was being stalked and threatened, not knowing if it was a hardened killer or a kid with daddy issues, calling the cops would have been totally fair game.
posted by Ad hominem at 12:25 AM on September 25, 2012


Right, he might be really fucked up. I'm not saying anything he did here was good. I just wouldn't call the cops if he could end up in jail, with god knows what happening to him in there. I don't think that would teach him anything.

The chances of a kid ending up in prison for a first offence like this in the UK or Ireland are slim to none. He'd almost certainly get some combination of probation and a community service order.

Of course, if he'd been convicted of it before, that's a different matter. But our system rarely sends first time juvenile offenders to prison.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:38 AM on September 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


You know, this kid might have other victims. If he'd been reported to the police, they could have searched his computer. He could be involved in any number of cases like this, or worse; it's not a long walk from trolling to extortion or identity theft. I can understand this guy's justification, but I think there's a real chance that someone else is going to suffer the consequences of his mercy.
posted by Mitrovarr at 2:06 AM on September 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


Troll? I don't know. Criminal harassment, yeah.

I don't like these terms getting muddied. A while back I had a guy accuse me of "stalking" him because over the course of 7 years of being aware of his existence, I disagreed with him maybe 5 times on 4 public nerd-related venues. Stalking. Fuck that shit. I argued with some dude who turned out to be a crazy asshole. That's all.

This sort of thing is more like another experience I had, where an rpg blogger (I do game design stuff) posted an extended fantasy about beating me with a pipe - one where he didn't name me, but described me with the kind of accuracy required of someone who had followed me in various online venues for a while and was *profiling* me -- he mentioned recent surgery I had, for example. Around that time, one of this guy's fans mentioned some things that I was pretty sure were not public about my family. So there was a guy fantasizing about doing something violent, and a buddy of his actually sleazing into my f-locked space.

So that prompted a change. I'd been threatened before online (yep, rpg gamers, yeesh) and I had a simple solution: I offered to tell whoever it was where I lived and said if they cared to show up I'd call the police and maybe hurt them real bad, too. Because these people are cowards this was completely effective, though admittedly risky. But now I had a family and worse, multiple people willing to fuck with me. So that was it: I left behind the last vestiges of Web 1.0 openness and locked down a bunch of my life.

But one thing I could not do was expect substantive support, because this behavior was treated as "just trolling," despite the threat, the number of people involved and the extremely personal nature of it. There is a point where people confirm that they are your friends by taking this seriously when it would be convenient not to. Then there are folks who muddy the language for their own sake. When they do that, they not only make that instance confusing, but corrupt the pool of public opinion into something cynical and ineffective.

This thing, I think trolling was the wrong term. Or maybe the police have picked up this new apathy toward harassment as anything beyond dramatic rhetoric, because the cops may not do a great job at times, but they used to do more about death threats accompanied by fucking artifacts mailed to the house than get all like, "Dude, that troll sucks. Sorry."
posted by mobunited at 2:22 AM on September 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


Setting aside for a moment the seriousness of this particular story, isn't this at least marginally representative of online youth culture now, especially in the wild corners of the Internet such as unmoderated image boards? The kinds of kids who band together to win a Taylor Swift concert for a school for the deaf. Or initiate celebrity death hoaxes. Or think it's hilarious to vote "Hitler Did Nothing Wrong" into the top spot in a soda naming contest.

It also seems like there's a trend towards darker, more confrontational humor, e.g. Tim & Eric or Loiter Squad. If confronted they admit only to doing it, "for the lulz." If credibly threatened with legal or extra-legal punishment, they claim that the victim is a poor sport. (If the threat is not credible, they of course simply pile on more abuse.)

Admittedly, none of the above rises to the level of death threats or sending boxes of ashes to people. Still, I think it's possible the underlying motive is the same: the kid did it simply "for the lulz."

I bring it up because I think that if they kid says he did it "for the lulz" that's actually more worrying to me than if the kid were a garden variety psycho. Basic social graces are what let us even have a society. I worry what the outcome will be if kids aren't properly enculturated and grow up believing that "I only did it for the lulz" is an acceptable excuse.
posted by ob1quixote at 2:32 AM on September 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


Yeah, I have to agree with those who say this isn't what trolling means. Trolling means deliberately posting stuff guaranteed to wind people up in the sense of fishing for angry reaction, just for the immature yuks of seeing people get annoyed or upset. This went way, way beyond that. This was serious stalking, harassment and threat.

But this is also why I have never been unduly bothered when I've received similar threats on the internet. Because I just know that the chances are extremely high that it's probably just a young male being a jerk. I'm only talking about mere verbal threats, of course. The ashes and flowers business was something else altogether, and that would certainly have creeped me right out and prompted an immediate visit to the police station.
posted by Decani at 3:28 AM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


ad hom do you have a link to that criminal justice thread? I had a search, but lots of other stuff came up. I must have missed it when it was posted, sounds very interesting.
posted by smoke at 4:19 AM on September 25, 2012


I'm always surprised about people in this sort of situation who don't attempt to discover the identity or personal details of their attacker. This story kind of blows me away. I know that if I were in this situation - really, as soon as my wife were affected - I'd find out where this was coming from instead of playing whack-a-mole with Twitter usernames.

Incidentally, getting a street name from an IP is easy if you're in the same small village (as I assume is probably the case here). "Hey, that's my ISP!" - and from there you check all your back email. Problem solved. And it's an entirely different situation then - there's a difference between harassment from next door and harassment from "The Internet".

I personally support Traynor's action, to an extent. Therapy is much more likely to help this kid than the judiciary, even in Ireland.

Where I think it fails is that it's really rather self-centered not even to have thought maybe there might be more victims who are still suffering the same fear Traynor did, without the advantage of knowing the perpetrator. Throughout this piece, Traynor seems to have been a passive observer of the entire process. I don't care for that.
posted by Michael Roberts at 4:23 AM on September 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


How do you know the "PI" wasn't the online stalker doing one last prank?

LOL that would be brilliant. Even if it could have been a prank, I was just relieved to have this problem off my back. But the PI checked out, he lived hundreds of miles away from the harasser. The one thing I would characterize about my online stalker is not intelligence, but determination.

I suppose I should clarify what he did. This wasn't death threats or anything like that. This was a systematic attempt to destroy my professional life. It was very successful. One thing that is characteristic about this sort of situation, a typical troll will move on if he doesn't get what he wants: a reaction. Trolls feed off the energy from your reactions. Only a truly insane troll will keep going after months or years of not getting any reaction from you.
posted by charlie don't surf at 4:33 AM on September 25, 2012


There will undoubtedly be other people from his home town nearby wherever he lives for the rest of his life unless he emigrates which he can't do with a criminal record.

I think this is not the case - except for specific reasons of policy (usually involving political issues), EU citizens can move between countries in the European Economic Area despite having criminal records. Other countries might not issue a visa to someone with a criminal conviction on their record, but it's on a case by case basis. And, you know, the Republic of Ireland is on the small side as countries go, but it isn't Smallville.

One thing that is odd about Ireland, though, is not currently, to my knowledge, having the idea of "spent" convictions in law. In most countries, after a set period most criminal convictions are sealed, and can be left off personal records, job applications and so on. In Ireland, that isn't the case, although the Criminal Justice Spent Convictions Bill is being discussed and marked up now.

Under that bill, a crime with a custodial sentence of less than a year (which this would have been, I think) will be removed from an Irish citizen's record if they do not commit another crime within a set period - three years at the low end.

However! This young man was lucky enough to be found out before he was 18 - if charges had been pressed, and if he had been convicted, he would almost certainly have been eligible for that conviction to be sealed after three years under Section 258 of the Children's Act 2001 - more info here.

(Not saying he should have pressed charges - only that this is probably what would have happened if he had, and a misdemeanor conviction had been secured.)
posted by running order squabble fest at 5:01 AM on September 25, 2012


Reminds me of a cartoon I saw on 4chan.

Courtroom scene:

"I'd like to submit as evidence the accused's internet browsing history."
"Actually, can I just confess to the murder instead?"
posted by colie at 5:53 AM on September 25, 2012 [5 favorites]


To me, stealing a car, peeping on the babysitter, or bullying are worse

This is a case of bullying. If the author was a fellow teen, we'd call this one of the worst cases of bullying that we had every heard of.

I defer to those who have experience with people like this kid to opine whether it's likely this is part of an ongoing pattern of bullying and stalking that he engages in to target others. If this were a case of petty vandalism with offensive graffiti, I'd have written it off as a kid being merely an uncivilized asshole who needs to be scared into learning how to behave. But this is way over the top.
posted by deanc at 7:09 AM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


To me, stealing a car, peeping on the babysitter, or bullying are worse

Of that list, the first two are more impulsive actions undertaken in the heat of the moment (unless you mean setting up a video camera to peep on the babysitter). I don't really see how this can be thought of as worse somehow than a 3-year dedicated campaign of consistently disgusting behavior.
posted by elizardbits at 7:12 AM on September 25, 2012 [5 favorites]


Y'know, I can't help but think that even though the author didn't want to press charges, the parents are going to be watching the kid like a damn hawk. He may not have had to deal with the Garda, but he's gonna be dealing with his Mom....

Yes, I know the parents hadn't caught it before. But now the blinders are definitely off, and I suspect they'll be paying a LOT more attention now. Especially since THEY were the ones to immediately say "we'll call the Garda with you, just say the word" rather than "how dare you say such a thing about our son". They are NOT pleased with their son, it sounds, and they're gonna be instituting their own observation, I believe.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:13 AM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Sartre 2.0
"You don't need red hot pokers. Hell is the internet."
posted by incandissonance at 7:21 AM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Reminds me of a cartoon I saw on 4chan.

Courtroom scene:

"I'd like to submit as evidence the accused's internet browsing history."
"Actually, can I just confess to the murder instead?"


That's actually from this SNL sketch with Eli Manning.
posted by zombieflanders at 7:37 AM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Ban the twerp from using the internet for 2 years. Best type of probation possible for a gross crime like this.
posted by Theta States at 7:42 AM on September 25, 2012


I'm awfully glad I'm not this guy's wife. He basically let someone go who had threatened to kill her and kidnap their son. That is unforgivable in my relationship book of rules. I smell a rat. It's either him or this story.
posted by Kokopuff at 7:54 AM on September 25, 2012 [11 favorites]


Is there some context as to who this guy is, and why he was getting such specifically racially charged responses? Does he do some kind of op-ed/blog writing about Judaism?

I just don't recognize the author, and the blog post starts in the middle like we'd know who he is. Context helps.
posted by Stagger Lee at 8:22 AM on September 25, 2012


ad hom do you have a link to that criminal justice thread?

Illustrated guide to criminal law
posted by Ad hominem at 8:58 AM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


This story has too many just-so moments to be believable. He just happened to have a friend who can track IP addresses down to a specific house? The child is an insane sociopath but immediately crumbles? The police aren't involved? Six years of death threats and it ends with a handshake and a promise to do better?

I think the twist is: the troll is him; this is Kaycee Nicole Part 2.
posted by felix at 9:17 AM on September 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


I suspect that the seventeen year old has little sense of the exact nature and significance of his pranks. I'm not making any excuses for his behavior, but, perhaps, he is too unsophisticated to understand anti-semitic/holocaust history?

I'd imagine as a teenage boy from what sounded like reasonably suburban/rural Ireland, he probably wouldn't be aware of The Holocaust except as something that can be invoked to shock people. (Kids at my school used to play 'Hillsborough' - a game that involved cramming into a small space - because they were too young to have proper first hand experience of the disaster, and because teenage boys like to be shocking). Remember there are comparatively very few Jews in the UK and Ireland - it would be possible for someone to not realise that making references to someone being a Jew is any more racist or wrong than calling someone a 'fat c***'. Especially a kid who isn't very bright and thinks abusing people anonymously is hilarious.

I too wonder if he's a prominent Jewish writer, though, as this might make a difference as to why he focused in so heavily on his ethnic background.
posted by mippy at 9:53 AM on September 25, 2012


What really got me about this story is that the father didn't seem to be surprised and was so ready to get the police involved. This indicates to me that there has been a history of aberrant behavior in the 17 year old, escalating through the years to include this hateful stalking. Maybe the father thought this would finally be the chance to do something legally about the problem.
posted by ElleElle at 10:12 AM on September 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


I didn't get the impression that he was just letting him go free, he states in the story that he still has all the info and documents, and he WILL get all legal on their asses if the kid doesn't go to counseling.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 10:55 AM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


are suburban/rural irish teens also blind to the horrors of slitting someone's throat and kidnapping their child or pissing on someone's wife? this isn't a kid who just did it for the lulz. this is someone who for about 1000 days made the choice a few times a week to a few times a day to ratchet up his abuse of an old family friend.
posted by nadawi at 10:55 AM on September 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


My God, that is horrifying!!

But it is also unfortunately understandable. The goal of any troll is to get a rise out of someone. It's not good enough to know that you've upset someone. You want to _see_ that you've upset them. And it was so easy for him to see this living so close.

When I was in 5th grade, I went back into my classroom during recess to grab something from my bag. I was met with something I'd never seen before: an empty class. No other teachers, no other students. And I felt suddenly compelled to do something naughty. What if I wrote a bad word big on the chalk board? Of course, at 12, I didn't think about any steps beyond wanting to do something bad without anyone knowing it was me. I must have stood there for 20 seconds pondering it before deciding that it wasn't a good idea. Not because I was worried I'd get caught. But because I WAS 12 AND MATURE ENOUGH TO KNOW BETTER!

It's unfortunate that at 17, there are still those that enjoy destructive mischief for its own sake.
posted by ChipT at 11:07 AM on September 25, 2012


This may have been noted upthread, but I didn't see it addressed in the article: who else might this kid have been (or still be) "trolling?" Kids at school? Other religious or ethnic minorities? Who else has gotten a package from him? That's why they should've gone legal; sure, he confessed when confronted by this one victim, but did he confess about the others? It seems unlikely that this is his only victim.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 11:23 AM on September 25, 2012


I'd have been tempted to have the kid read every single one of his comments and threats out loud to his parents or some other audience (wider family? Friends?) -- even if it took hours, even if it took multiple sessions. And no other punishment than limited, surveilled access to the internet. Own your words, son.

Reminds me of the This American Life story of the father who recorded phone conversations of his kid making plans to score drugs. The kid tried to be outraged that he'd had his privacy violated. Dad's only punishment was to make his kid listen to hours of phone calls of the kid treating his friends and girlfriends poorly because he was high, and sounding like a total douche.

Some punishment is iterative. You gauge the kid's reaction -- does it look like he knows he was a total ass? Is he actually mortified?

Everyone, but kids especially (but everyone) imagines the audience on the Internet to be they're ideal audience. I tell Tweens -- you think when you're on Facebook that you're in a room with your friends with the door shut. It's more like you're standing on a street corner with a megaphone. Sometimes, seeing your actual audience instead of your imaginary audience is enough to horrify people into better behavior.

My sister, who sells insurance in the US, says you can add insurance to your homeowners policy to protect you financially in the case that your kid does something on the Internet that gets you sued. Hmmm.....
posted by vitabellosi at 11:44 AM on September 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


I think the self-congratulatory tone of the confrontation scene is unwarranted. Assuming this piece is true, I can't imagine the kid came away with much more than a heightened sense of resentment/contempt for the author - the "look me in the eye and shake my hand, son" routine in particular felt very Hank Hill-y ...

And "bursting into tears" after being confronted with what he'd done? Do people really do that?
posted by DingoMutt at 12:00 PM on September 25, 2012


Do people really do that?

master manipulators with no sense of remorse or empathy do that. it's just another trick in their bag to control the world around them.
posted by nadawi at 12:26 PM on September 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


*bursts into tears*
posted by quonsar II: smock fishpants and the temple of foon at 12:33 PM on September 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


Man, this is strange and implausible on multiple levels. Looking for information on Leo Traynor leads to more brick walls than answers. I'm imagining an entire Pale Fire-like array of fictions, unreliable narrators, hacked twitter accounts, false personas.
posted by naju at 2:13 PM on September 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


I am mistrusting on the internet for the very reason that people like this kid do exist, but something about this story feels...off.

It would make a very nice Oprah narrative is what I'm saying.
posted by itsonreserve at 2:17 PM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


I read the article and to be honest I flat out don't believe it happened like the author states it, if it happened at all. I am probably wrong though, but to me it just didn't ring true.
posted by Admira at 5:24 PM on September 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


I read the article and to be honest I flat out don't believe it happened like the author states it, if it happened at all.

I agree. If you go back over the dialogue in the final scene, it does not resemble a real conversation.

None of the incidental detail or unexpected bits that even a bad writer would try to use have been included.
posted by colie at 11:33 PM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't want to accuse anyone of anything, but the story makes sense to me if you assume the kid isn't the sociopath, but the "friend" and father is. That's why the story still sounds off, as the big lie is still operating (if we assume the author is telling the truth). A teenager is an easy scape-goat. Look at how personal those attacks were as well. How did the father know so much about his son's online history? Also, what is the likelihood of this kid being known to the writer via his father?
posted by ollyollyoxenfree at 11:44 PM on September 25, 2012


Yeah... sort of requires a few large grains of salt, it seems to me. The harassment has been going on for three years? So the son started this around 13-14 years of age? And remained that fixated for that long? If that were the case, I don't really see a friendly family dinner culminating in "thanks for giving me a break dude." No, I'm pretty sure that all adults involved would be seriously, seriously invested in getting this kid into care ASAP because he's very likely to be dangerous... if not now, then soon.

Or perhaps the author was the victim of other trolls and the teen just sort of seamlessly melded into the same pattern of abuse purely accidentally when he later decided "hey, why not troll my dad's friend as a lark"?

Hm. At the very least I feel like I sort of have to assume a liberal amount of fictionalization regarding the true details of whatever happened.
posted by taz at 1:59 AM on September 26, 2012 [4 favorites]


I read the article and to be honest I flat out don't believe it happened like the author states it, if it happened at all.

I agree. If you go back over the dialogue in the final scene, it does not resemble a real conversation.

None of the incidental detail or unexpected bits that even a bad writer would try to use have been included.



For me, the cookies were the tell (or at least the context):

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.


The kid doesn't know the vic will be joining them and instead of having at least a little bit of an "aw #$%# maybe this is about...." moment when he shows up unexpectedly (or the slightest flicker of guilt or nerves flash across his face) he segues right into LET'S HAVE COOKIES!
posted by availablelight at 5:34 AM on September 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't want to accuse anyone of anything, but the story makes sense to me if you assume the kid isn't the sociopath, but the "friend" and father is. That's why the story still sounds off, as the big lie is still operating (if we assume the author is telling the truth). A teenager is an easy scape-goat. Look at how personal those attacks were as well. How did the father know so much about his son's online history? Also, what is the likelihood of this kid being known to the writer via his father?

Suggestions that it was the dad or the IT guy have that fun IT'S COMING FROM INSIDE THE HOUSE feel, but then why does the kid burst into tears and apologize? Any kid over the age of 2 throws a howling tantrum of indignation when falsely accused of even trivial sins.
posted by availablelight at 5:37 AM on September 26, 2012


This has now been picked up by The Guardian.

At the very least I feel like I sort of have to assume a liberal amount of fictionalization regarding the true details of whatever happened.


I hope for the dude's sake it is true, else he could be about to go down a James Frey-shaped hole.

The ending just doesn't ring like the earlier stuff, with its details of the ashes etc.
posted by colie at 6:59 AM on September 26, 2012


Weirdly enough, we seem to be the only community that has people smelling fishy things. Not sure what that says about us. Are any of the larger publications contacting the guy and interviewing him?
posted by naju at 7:20 AM on September 26, 2012


They're starting to debate it on The Guardian web site comments.
posted by colie at 7:36 AM on September 26, 2012


In fact, people are now placing bets on it being fiction in The Guardian comments... it's time for the deckchair and popcorn on this one...
posted by colie at 7:43 AM on September 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


GOING TO CUT YOUR WIFE'S THROAT YUM COOKIES OH SHIT BUSTED *hugs*
posted by benzenedream at 7:44 AM on September 26, 2012 [14 favorites]


Every time I hear about kids like this (and there are LOADS out there), I thank teh universe for giving me two good-hearted, well-meaning, don't-have-a-mean-bone-in-their-bodies teenage boys. I get on them for being doofuses, but they are a dream compared to many of the other possibilities.
posted by grubi at 11:47 AM on September 26, 2012


Assuming this is fake (and I believe it very much is) then what we have here is a wonderful example of a sociopath preying on the sympathies of the internet but this time he does it by false claims of being preyed on himself - by a sociopath. And I think it's a tell that in this piece of fiction from a sociopathic brain that the perpetrator gets away with it sans consequence and has cookies to boot !
posted by Podkayne of Pasadena at 11:49 AM on September 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


thank teh universe for giving me two good-hearted, well-meaning, don't-have-a-mean-bone-in-their-bodies teenage boys.

let me rephrase that, as it sounds like I'm so glad they're boys.

I thank the universe for giving me these two good-hearted, well-meaning, don't-have-a-mean-bone-in-their-bodies teenage boys.
posted by grubi at 11:53 AM on September 26, 2012


Assuming this is fake (and I believe it very much is) then what we have here is a wonderful example of a sociopath preying on the sympathies of the internet but this time he does it by false claims of being preyed on himself - by a sociopath.

Wow, that's harsh but I think it might well be accurate.

Not many things appear exactly as they really are.
posted by colie at 12:50 PM on September 26, 2012


And "bursting into tears" after being confronted with what he'd done? Do people really do that?

Yeah, but probably more to do with being scared and shock - the realization that it's the end of the line and you're not going to be able to escape, and not knowing what the consequences will be, while fearing they will be seriously bad.
posted by anonymisc at 2:15 PM on September 26, 2012


Trolling is a art.
posted by clarknova at 12:39 PM on September 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


clarknova: "Trolling is a art."

an
posted by rebent at 10:24 PM on September 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


clarknova: "Trolling is a art."

an
posted by rebent at 1:24 AM on September 29 [1 favorite +] [!]


coolface.jpg
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 10:22 AM on September 30, 2012


« Older "The counterintuitive, distressing, but necessary ...   |   Business Card Tricks... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments