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The Time I Ruined the Life of an Online Troll

Xander Green

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This is the story of the time I ruined the life of an online troll. Now, this may sound extreme, however, I believe it was justified given the circumstance and nature of my encounter.

To understand how I found this individual, I need to take you back to 2015.

It was in 2015 that I would spend my days Googling pointless topics. One day, I decided to look up opinions on the meaning of life. I scrolled through various pages of search engine results until I came across the concept of Nihilism.

What is Nihilism?

Nihilism interested me because it was unlike any other belief I found on my search for the meaning of life. To put it simply, Nihilism is the belief that the world is meaningless. It is a pessimistic approach to life, which suggests that there is no point in life because nothing holds real relevance. Nihilism can make people believe existence does not matter therefore their actions do not either.  Many people view Nihilism as a realistic belief that opposes our human nature to seek significance. I wanted to speak to a real life Nihilist and hear their opinions on life. What I found shocked me.

nihilism explained

Nihilism on Social Media

Upon discovering Nihilism, I joined several Facebook groups surrounding the topic. These groups were full of dark humour and memes that made fun of life and death. Comments such as “existence is misery” was common to see. In these groups, I came across a few genuine Nihilists. The community was predominantly made up of people who were depressed, or people who would see the humour in depression. The Nihilist approach meant that depression was not important, because nothing is relevant. This was why suicide jokes are a hit in Nihilism groups. I found that the constant sharing of suicide memes meant that people become desensitised to death. People would believe that their existence is meaningless, which is not a good thought to have if you are dealing with genuine depression.

I spoke to one individual privately who said they did not want to live anymore. They told me “the world is not real but my sadness is.”

The world is not real, but my sadness is.

This made me realise that Nihilism and depression are a bad combination. I reassured this person and told them they were important. A few months later, I went to get in touch to see how they were getting on but I discovered that their Facebook account had vanished.

nihilist meme

Encountering The Troll

Fast forward to mid-2016 and I get a Facebook notification from one of the Nihilist groups. It was someone seeking genuine advice to kill themselves. They said they wanted their death to be peaceful but they were scared. Upon checking the comments of the post, I noticed one person advising them to run into an oncoming train, as this would be painless and fast. The person giving the advice was the troll whose life I went on to ruin. For the remainder of this article, I will refer to the troll as Nigel (to protect identity).

At the time, I thought that Nigel was being edgy for the sake of it but this was not the case. I thought back to the time when I spoke to the person who told me their sadness was real but the world was not. The fact they had disappeared off social media gave me goosebumps. I assumed that the worse had happened and that this could become a reoccurring story in this group.

I decided to look up posts and comments made by Nigel in the group. All the comments turned out to be methods for depressed people to kill themselves. Nigel would give people reassurance that death was the only way out. He would pretend he was doing the people a favour. A distraught man posted that he was ashamed that he kept failing to kill himself. Nigel told him not to beat himself up about it, and that if he works hard, one day he will be able to do it.

Using Facebook as a Weapon

I realised that Nigel was not your ordinary troll and that I had to do something to stop him. I created a fake profile to contact Nigel. At this time, I had no intention to ruin his life, I just wanted to stop him ruining the lives of others. On my fake profile, I told him that I had seen his comments and that they could have a devastating effect. He replied to tell me that he did not care,

Facebook troll

The First Warning

From my understanding, Nigel had the belief that depression was a weakness to humanity. It appeared he was on a mission to weed out the weak members of society. It was almost like he got a buzz from it, some weird kick that motivated him to do it that I could not understand. I warned Nigel that if continued, there would repercussions. He told me that he did not care and then blocked my fake profile. I logged into my genuine profile and checked for new posts by Nigel. A day later, I saw that he was back to his old tricks. He was, yet again, giving suicide advice to another mentally tortured soul.

The Second Warning

Nigel had made a crucial mistake by not setting his Facebook profile to private. I was able to see every post that he had ever made, as well as the friends that he had. Nigel was a family man and made it clear on Facebook how much his wife meant to him. I decided that I would give Nigel his second warning. This time I would make it more personal. This time I wanted to put the fear into him. Within ten minutes, I was able to find Nigel’s home address.

I decided that I would write a letter to his address. This letter was handwritten to add a personal touch. On the envelope, I addressed the letter to his wife’s name so that he would not be able to simply brush it under the carpet. The letter read the following –

Your husband continues to encourage suicide online. He provides methods of suicide for depressed people and he must be stopped. Could you please let him know that this is his final warning? I will be watching.

The letter was sent with the intention to make Nigel stop doing what he does. I thought that this would be the only way that I could get through to him. The more I thought about it, the more I felt guilty that his wife may be living in fear. This was something I did not take into consideration initially. My mission to stop Nigel clouded my thought, however, I knew this was necessary for the greater good.

The Final Blow

It had been a month since I wrote the letter and I had not seen a single post from Nigel. I thought maybe I had finally got through to him, but I was wrong. Another month had passed and Nigel was back at it again. I was disappointed, however, I was not prepared to give up. I reached out to the depressed victims to let them know they had my support. Nigel had to pay for his actions, but how?

I decided to take a deeper look into Nigel’s personal life. His use of the internet meant that his life was essentially an open book. I was stunned when I discovered that he worked at a care home. He was not someone I could trust in society to care for others. I knew I had to deliver the final blow.

Nigel’s Linkedin profile revealed that he was a senior member at a care home. This care home was reputable and risked their reputation by hiring him. I dug deep to pull out a barrage of screenshots I had of Nigel’s activity online. After some contemplation, I decided that I would get in touch with the care home via their Facebook page. I logged into the fake profile via a proxy and sent the screenshots. I did not believe that he was fit to be trusted with human life. A member of staff replied to say that the case had been handed over to the CEO.

Facebook messenger screenshot

The Aftermath

A week later, Nigel was no longer on the company website and had also removed the care home from his Linkedin page. It was clear that his actions had caused him to lose his job. Nigel’s relationship status on Facebook had changed from “In a relationship” to “It’s complicated”.

In almost an instant, he had lost his job and damaged his relationship with his family. Nigel had completely stopped posting on Facebook and eventually shut his Facebook account. This guys life was turned upside down, and it all stemmed from his actions online. I have comfort in knowing that he will never encourage suicide again. Everybody has their right to an opinion but nobody has the right to prey on the vulnerable. Do I feel guilty? Of course, but then I remember all of those people that he sought to destroy. This man was in a position of care. What if my actions had saved the life of someone? It is these thoughts that make my guilt fade away.

 

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