Internet Trolls

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The first story I ever wrote was called the “A Little Elf.” I told it to my mom who used to write down the funny stuff I said and the stories I’d tell. All of my early wisdom is in a spiral notebook in a box somewhere, getting ready for the highest bidder when I become super rich and famous. I’m kidding. Maybe.

I wrote sporadically through childhood and early adulthood. Short stories, angsty poetry, stuff like that. In high school, I wrote a series of “alternate ending” love stories about how a famous rock star ended up with various heroines loosely resembling me. And no, I’m not gonna spill the beans about which famous rock star because I’m happily married and it would be just awkward if he came knockin’. Which he totally would if he read my stuff and knew I pined for him when I was sixteen. Ahem.

I started blogging in 2011 as a way to chronicle our adoption story and continued it because it was cathartic as I struggled with what was probably an undiagnosed case of post-adoption depression. I kept writing because…well because I like it. It grounds me. I have stuff to say.

I started submitting to larger sites in the summer of 2014 to get more eyes on my writing. Most of you who are reading this probably found me on one of those sites and that’s awesome sauce. Yes, I said awesome sauce. Sometimes urban slang is just fun.

[Tweet “Putting your story out there on the internet makes you vulnerable. “]

But here’s the thing: putting your story out there on the internet makes you vulnerable. I’ve heard a lot of bloggers complain about “Internet Trolls” which usually elicited a giant eye roll from me. Is giant eye roll a skill? I’m working on my Linked In profile and I’m thinking there would be a crap ton of people who’d indorse me as an expert eye roller.

Read here to find out more about internet trolls

Anyhoo…I always thought those folks who complained about “trolls” were too sensitive. If you’re gonna put yourself out there, you need to be secure with yourself and be able to shake it off if a reader disagrees with your stance on potty training, organic foods, 50 Shades…or whatever.

Crying because someone disagrees with what you wrote? Please. Put your big girl panties on and suck it up, buttercup. If you get upset every time someone doesn’t love what you write, you’re weak and you probably just stay off the internet. Right?

Maybe I was a little harsh.

In the past month, I’ve started blogging for the Huffington Post. I’ve been published by On Parenting, the Washington Post’s parenting vertical and by Babble, Disney’s parenting website. I’m very lucky and humbled that these sites have published my words and I’ve gained some new readers. Maybe that’s you.

But not everyone is nice.

I consider myself to be fairly thick-skinned. I’ve been around a minute. I am not easily shocked or offended and it’s pretty hard to hurt my feelings. Right? Maybe not. Some of the comments on my recent writing and some of the emails I’ve received have been…well, mean.

I don’t write controversial or inflammatory stuff. I write about , motherhood and midlife and how those entities collide. I steer away from anything hot button. I don’t whine or preach. The best feedback I’ve gotten on my blog was from someone who knows me well: “you blog like you talk.”

I wrote about Costco.  I got emails bashing me for not supporting small businesses. Really? On the upside, I also got a selfie of some dude while he was shopping which was a little weird but hey, it’s all good. Someone sent me a picture of their new Costco membership forms. I swear they didn’t pay me to write that stuff. I just really love Costco…it’s the hot dogs.

Internet Trolls

I wrote about parenting clichés. I got called a bitter, friendless bitch. Ouch. I wrote about urban slang. I got an email calling me a racist and a shitty writer. How for the love of Mike could someone get racist from making fun of “totes adorbs?” I have no clue. And the shitty writer part? Clearly, that chick had zero taste. Ahem.

I wrote about over-40 parenting. I got called selfish because I’d “die and leave my kids orphans.” I got comments from twentysomethings detailing how I’d embarrass my kids with my advanced age. I didn’t burst any bubbles…they’ll figure out all parents embarrass their kids about something. It’s part of why we have kids, right?

My writing is all pretty personal…and while I’m mature enough to realize I’m not everyone’s cup of tea, some of these comments and emails people took the time to send…well, they hurt my feelings. There, I said it.

More about trolls here

I talked to one of my editors about this because I was upset. She told me “the first rule of fight club is never to read the comments.” Okay, she might not have actually said fight club. But, I like reading comments. I like to absorb what people thought or felt when they read my writing. I like to comment back when I can, because I like engaging with people who are kind enough to read my words.

People have free will. I know that by giving the internets a window in to my life I’m opening myself up to scrutiny. My litmus test for writing is whether my mom or my pastor would be freaked out by what I write…and I’m pretty sure they’ve both heard every colorful word I’ve thrown out there.

[Tweet “My publishing litmus test is whether my mom or my pastor would be freaked out by my words”]

If you’re an internet troll, well….there’s not a whole lot I can say other than move on and find the underside of a bridge and try to scare some billy goats…I don’t have anything for ya.

If you’re a blogger, keep hitching up those big girl panties and keep smiling. The internet isn’t always a welcoming place to be and you’ve gotta find your own mojo to deal with it. Stay classy.

Readers, I’m glad you’re here. I hope you stick around. I really enjoy writing and connecting with you. I write for my own sanity most of the time, but the fact that you like it too…well, that’s just gravy otherwise known as awesome sauce.

Internet Trolls|Ripped Jeans and Bifocals



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  1. I have just begun to send my work out to other sites to be honest and I am usually so big on comments on my own blog, but I know I am going to have to just grin and bare and not look at the comments at that point either, which is kind of sad, but still the trolls and the haters do very much exist once you aren’t on your own home turf (or your own blog). Thanks for the advice here.

    1. Exactly that. I have received very few negative comments here on my own blog. And if I do, I can delete them (or edit them to say “Jill you are super fabulous”.) Or, I can respond as I wish…my house, my rules.

      But, there is just something about returning the snark on a site that doesn’t belong to me that I find distasteful. I’ve come close but I haven’t and I probably won’t. It’s akin to acting the fool in someone else’s house and I tend to keep my bad behavior close to home.

  2. I’ve been considering submitting my writing to bigger sites, but my skin isn’t that thick and I know that putting myself out there opens myself to the meanies out there because apparently there are too many people with too much time on their hand and not enough to due but to spew hatred. I commend you for putting your writing out there. I think you are a fabulous writer and those people who write mean things don’t know you and how awesome you are!

  3. Is it trollish of me to tickle you in the ribs and laugh a little at the thought of “awesome sauce” being urban slang? Sorry, mama 😉

    But it is true that if you blog, you’re gonna get trolls, either on the blog itself or on social media, and you just have to deal with it. The more you engage them, the more impact they have. I just walk away. Great post!

  4. I have to say that when I first started having pieces I thought I was pretty prepared for the comments. Especially since I don’t really write about controversial things. And for the most part, I really didn’t get anything too wild, but then I had a piece on teen drinking go viral and wow, the trolls came out!! I did have to stop reading them after a while. People can be so mean!!!! Thanks for a great post!

    1. I absolutely thought I was prepared, too. I gave myself way too much credit for being tough. I think I’ve been taken back by “trolls” because they’ve surfaced on stuff I wouldn’t have expected to be controversial. Thanks, Kathy!

  5. I have written twice about how my feelings were hurt, and I was thinking, oh great, now trolls are going to comment that I should stop talking about how butt hurt I am blah blah blah. The latest post I wrote for Washington Post was about whether or not I should continue to write about my children, and some people said some really hurtful things. I mean, really? But I’m going to keep writing, as should you. Keep on keepin’ on.

  6. Yes yes yes, Bloggers MUST wear big girl panties. I wrote a post about cutting my hair, even though my husband prefers long hair, and the trolls came out and accused me of all sorts of things. I think a lot of people are just angry and bitter and they spew off at the internet because they can hide behind a screen name.

    1. So funny – I have thought about writing that very post. I cut my hair against my husband’s wishes. My hair, my rules. I decided I like it long after all and I’m growing it again…but I would NEVER think that trolls would grab on to a post on hair. Crazy.

  7. I published on bigger sites with my first blog and the first time I was on Mamapedia and got slammed I was totally taken aback. And insulted. And pissed. I’m not really easy to offend but some of those women were just plain nasty. Then I figured that they’re just unhappy, totally entitled to their opinion, and won’t be subscribing to my blog so pfffft. The next few times, especially on Scary Mommy, I just blew it off, said thanks and have a nice day, and went on with my life.
    On the other hand, I am very quick to defend my writing friends when they are attacked viciously on the big sites. I understand opinions but name calling and nastiness is just uncalled for. I’ll start looking out for ya, Jill. I love the way you write because I love real and honest and funny. Keep it up, sister!

  8. Apparently, my eyebrows appeared to be ‘Sharpied on’. There are quite a few buttholes out there who seem to have a lot of MEAN things to say. As for me, I adore you and your writing. You have and will always be one of the biggest writing influences to me. All my love, friend.

  9. I’ve been blogging since before blogging was cool. My biggest share of troll behavior didn’t come from the political site I wrote, but from my running blog on a newspaper site. Running. So controversial, right? But for me, the trolls were entertainment. I loved a troll fight…in the beginning. Now they bore me. Best advice I can give: Don’t feed the trolls. Ignoring them is a million deaths to them, which in itself is great entertainment.

  10. I think if the trolls are attracted to your site, you are doing something right. They clearly want the most attention possible, and feel that you provide that for them. I’m still not worth their time, but I will lure them with my bridge and goats.

  11. Absolutely loved this article! I feel like trolls only come around when you say something that pushes buttons, which is awesome! We live in a world of free speech and are allowed to share our opinions however we want.
    For the record, whoever said that about “your age embarrassing your kids” is ridiculous. I’m a really young mom, but I 100% that I will embarrass my children many times regardless of my age.

  12. I’m glad you can find a bit of humor in the comments/emails you have received from trolls. Blogging and writing and using the Internet is not for the faint of heart. People are kind of nutty sometimes. I once wrote a post about my irrational fear of sharks and a woman wrote me a comment about twice as long as the post explaining how I was promoting the killing of sharks and convincing people that sharks were horrible beasts. It was strange because I was poking fun at myself and in no way saying sharks should be killed. I was surprised at how upset she was and I felt terrible for a while. Now when I think about it I have to laugh. It was so bizarre! Another time I wrote a snarky post about high heels being bad for our feet. I’ve gotten a lot of people writing to me to express how much they (or more often their wives) love to wear heels and that I am an idiot. It’s funny what people will get so angry over.

  13. Wow , people have too much time on their hands! I loved ALL the posts you got trolled on! My friends always say I blog like I talk too, I think that is a big compliment. 🙂

  14. Great post. If I ever have the honor of being featured on The Huff or the likes I vow to hardly ever look at the comments (maybe just once or twice). I can’t take them now as it is. Comment trolls give me a stomach ache, they are just so angry and bitter.

  15. I had a troll on my blog recently who kept insulting my weight and suggested I needed a crane to leave the apartment. Admittedly, it kind of stung. Emphasis on kind of. I’ve been dealing with nasty comments about my weight for years so one anonymous troll wasn’t going to send me into a total tizzy.

    After the fourth comment in my spam folder I did something about it: Wrote a post called “Yes, I’m Fat. What of It?” I got only one lame comment after that from a different troll and have not heard from the first one since. I win, asshole! Ha!

    1. I do not even get someone who is needlessly unkind to a stranger. Not even a little. And, of course that stung. I was reading through some of the asshole comments on Babble and it was clear that most of these people had no clue there was an actual person behind the words. Jerks. Thanks for the comment love.

  16. I have been blogging for 11 years now and there hasn’t been a year without some sort ‘troll’ engagement. People get upset and offended about anything and everything.

  17. Fortunately, I haven’t had many experiences with trolls, but the few I have had were tough. Like you, I was shocked by the topics that elicited so much emotion.( I was once told that I was robbing my children of the magic of childhood because we don’t do Elf on the Shelf.) The thing I don’t get is this – if I read a post that gets me riled up, I just click away and, most likely, never go back to that blog. Why can’t people just do that?? Why do they feel it’s necessary to spout their harsh opinions back at us??? Maybe it’s because I am, by nature, a non-onfrontational person, but I just don’t understand what they get out of it.

    1. “robbing your children of the magic?” Geez. We are happy elfers in the month of December, but the magic of Christmas long predates the elf on the frigging shelf. People are so dumb.

  18. Every so often I worry – how could I possibly adore Jill more? Then you write something like this. Like they say in Mean Girls, “The limit does not exist”. You are just too awesome. Thanks for being a grounding sounding board of awesome.

  19. Yes, yes, yes. It’s one thing to be smart, tough, prepared, and confident. It’s another thing to clutch your stomach with shock and pain as you read unexpectedly harsh, even cruel, comments. The whole thing is even worse when you’ve written something genuinely heartfelt, something that meant a lot to you, only to have random strangers–whom you’re pretty sure you couldn’t stand in person–rip it apart in ways you didn’t even know were possible.

    Thank you for the reminder that wanting to reach a wider audience isn’t always beautiful magic. Sometimes it reminds us that we can’t stand people. Heh-heh.

  20. I first noticed trolls (not just those who disagree with us) responding to other people’s posts or tweets. I was left aghast. All I can hope to think is that they just want other people as miserable as they are. The good thing about trolls is it means you have arrived, right? Sigh. Some people get it worse than others (a feminist comedian I’m friends with gets death and rape threats all the time from trolls), unfortunately. I hope that never happens to you. But while I understand wanting to read and comment back with the audience, sometimes it isn’t the way to go. It’s so sad that people think their anonymity gives them free reign to say what they want. Just keep writing and chin up! You are a great writer with a lot to say. 🙂

  21. I have always said that people who say mean things (especially when they’re totally baseless!) are just jealous and insecure, but my best friend once said to me, “Sure, Shay, there’s some of that…but some people are just assholes.” She had a great point. In any case–jealous, insecure, or just assholes–it’s not a good look, and we need to remember that it’s about THEM and not us or our writing. Because we’re awesome.

  22. Great piece Jill! I know what you are saying about having your feelings hurt. This has happened a few times to me. You are dammed if you do and dammed if you don’t when it comes to writing. I feel bad for these people. They clearly have really crappy lives if they “get off” on putting others down and that is what they do all day.

    I had a great friend share this with me and it is so true and can be applied to your situation. Think of your life (or in your case followers) as a garden of beautiful flowers. Sometimes weeds creep in. Pluck them out and cast them aside. Don’t even allow them to root in that beautiful garden of yours. I wouldn’t suggest deleting those comments but skip over them. They are ugly, hurtful and don’t deserve your time or mind space!


  23. Did you listen to the This American Life episode where the writer confronted one of her most terrible trolls (and she had a LOT)? It was amazing. Basically, those people have too much time and hatred on their hands.

  24. I’ve recently had my first two experiences with trolls. Needless to say I read it, blew it off and deleted the comments. My site, my rules. I have written on other sites but, luckily it’s all been fine so far. (& not as big of sites or topics to debate over) What ever happened to if you don’t have nothing nice to say then don’t say it at all!? Seriously, people don’t like something move on or go back under a bridge! Ahem.

  25. I freaked out when I got a featured post on BlogHer called ‘the smallest penis in the world’. The comments were horrifying! I emailed the editor, begging her to let me edit it! I felt so bad….

  26. I feel like I’m lucky in that I’ve never written for any big site–and I’ve also never come face-to-face with a troll, as of yet. It’s probably only a matter of time, and when the time comes, I’ll hopefully be able to just cry to my husband about it, realize by the mystified look on his face that such a thing doesn’t matter, and handle it henceforward with humor–but yeah. Sometimes comment sections suck, but I think it would be impossible not to read them.

  27. Thanks for a great post – I am always surprised at the amount of purely mean comments that people make on the internet. Thank goodness for the many wonderful folks who take the time to say something nice and restore our faith in humanity

  28. Yeah, those trolls. Oh trolls! You’ve just got to love them. They bother me too though, haha. I get to moderate my comments first though. I don’t automatically send them to spam, I keep them a few moderations then I send them to spam. It is hurtful & they are just bored. That old saying “you can’t please everyone”. I’m stopping by from SITS & I thoroughly enjoyed this read.

  29. I recently had a post go viral on FB and got really drained by reading the comments. I eventually turned them off, but wanted to write each person saying: You know how in real life you can still disagree with someone without calling names or yelling at a complete stranger? You do? Well funny, because you don’t seem to know that that can happen on the Internet, too!

    Visiting from the SITS sharefest!

  30. Trolls are terrible. They spoil the party. I’ve gotten pretty good at ignoring them thanks to Twitter. People will say all kinds of nasty, racist things to me because they think “Oh hey, a black person I can get my kicks out of harassing.” I don’t engage and it spoils their fun instead. They don’t know me from the next brown person they harass, so I don’t take it personally.

  31. People can be mean. I’ve had some rude comments. I mostly ignore them. If they get really mean, I call them out on a blog post.

  32. I loved this article. I consider myself to be pretty thick skinned and I haven’t come across this problem because I am just a little baby blogger only two months new. It makes me wonder if I really will take it in stride. I did have one woman all but comment on one of my posts saying there’s no way you can clean your house in an hour. I thought it was a pretty bold assumption of her to make considering she’s never been in my house but it didn’t bother me. I do realize the comment she made wasn’t an attack on me so it’s hard to say how I’ll react if I ever get anyone being downright ignorant.
    Thanks for this post.

  33. Am I glad you found my blog and shared this with my readers on #wednesdayswisdom. I love your style of writing and unfortunately these blog trolls will knock us left right and center, as they are invisible. I have had quite a few myself telling me I do not know what I am talking about, yeah right I say if that is what makes you happy! It takes all kinds. Have a great day and so please to meet you!

  34. One of my best blogging friends writes for the Huff. The first time she was published on there we told her not to read the comments. People are BRUTAL!!! I honestly don’t get it. I can understand disagreeing, but find a more adult way to state your disagreement. Or just keep your trap shut. But that’s just me.
    Great post!

  35. I keep thinking, maybe these people don’t have better things to do or maybe they are so passionately narrow-minded. Thankful I haven’t been trolled yet which is surprising because I know my grammar can be so bad. LOL If that happens, I may just cry in a corner and shake it off. And drink.

  36. I’m still shocked at what some of the trolls said to me recently. Two of them opened up brand new Twitter accounts to get me there and one used the email contact form on my blog – that one actually made me puke in my sink it was so awful. Sigh. Sorry you’ve gotten them. Jerks. Plus you’re a kick ass writer and everybody knows that nobody should have kids until they’re older because we’re better. 😉

  37. Thanks for linking up this interesting post on the Pure Blog Love link Party! I haven’t had any trolls yet, but the day will come when I get hit I know. Thanks for the info! The party is live tonight. I’m hosting at Love to see you there!

  38. Honestly, the trolls are why I’m happy being a no-name blogger. Who has the time and energy to spread that negativity? It’s unsettling in this big, bad bloggy blog world. I love how you write, though. When I first saw you on Periscope you were exactly as I had imagined. Thanks for admitting you get your feelings hurt, though. I always wonder how you big shots handle it. You keep doing you, though Jill. The majority of your visitors love you for it.

    1. “Looks around for a big shot.” I’m no big shot and yes, I get my feelings hurt more than I like to admit. It’s a hard balance to strike…I write for other people as well as for myself and not to read the comments seems wrong to me. But there are really some people out there that are just hurtful and want their minute in the spotlight. Since I wrote this, I’ve written quite a bit more on adoption and depression and it amazes me how easy it is for someone to be ugly on the internet. Thanks for your words, Jules. And you are NOT a no-name.