Warning: Graphic language below
Acclaimed indie filmmaker Kevin Smith took to Instagram yesterday to write the perfect response to somebody trolling his seventeen year old daughter, Harley Quinn Smith. Instead of responding to kingpsysyphus in kind, Smith took a more creative approach, telling the troll to change his life. Read his response below:
Despite calling kingpsysyphus's trolling the "saddest form of masturbation that exists" Kevin Smith - someone who achieved fame with a $27,575 film - implores the troller to change his life, to "Show the world WHY we should be paying attention to you instead of anyone else". This exchange shows Smith's innate magnanimity, especially considering someone was extremely offensive to his daughter, trying his best to dispel the ugliness right at the heart of the internet. This is a reminder that:
It Is Never OK To Abuse People On The Internet
What this exchange shows is a small subsection of people do not understand the key difference between criticism and abuse. Admittedly Yoga Hosers, starring Harley Quinn Smith and Lily-Rose Depp, was a critical failure, with a tomatometer of 30%, yet there is a difference between constructive criticism and simply being awful.
Constructive criticism points out inconsistencies, implausibilities, and poor story development, the whole while making sure to avoid being downright offensive. Additionally, a merely bad film, is still just a film. If you are finding a film so bad that you feel it necessary to pour hate upon a seventeen year old girl, the fact is the problem is not with the film but with yourself. Sadly in today's world:
The Internet Is A Hive For Abuse
Whilst you may not like something, it is innately wrong to turn that criticism into abuse. We have written before that celebrity is not consent, and this concept applies to the internet as well. As an evolving and complex beast, it is important to remember that what isn't acceptable in real life, is also unacceptable on the internet. You wouldn't call someone a "c**t" in real life, so why would you say it to someone on the internet? Yet due to the anonymity that the internet provides, it allows people to say things they wouldn't dream of saying in person.
Abuse is also not merely random, but in the vast majority of instances is likely to occur against women and ethnic groups. Attitudes that are now abhorrent in modern society are allowed to fester online where trolls can be certain that they will not suffer any repercussions. This is what causes atrocities such as the Ghosbusters fiasco, reaching its peak with targeted racist and sexist abuse of Leslie Jones, and Gamergate.
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This sad situation is made worse by the fact that:
Trolls Are More Likely To Suffer From Mental Illness
There are key links between mental illness and enjoyment of trolling. An article in news.com.au interviewed some of the worst trolls, and they seemed to use trolling as a way of working through their own problems. As one troll mentions:
"It just makes me happy when I can make someone angry. It sounds weird but I kind of feed off their anger. The angrier I can get them, the better I feel"
The article goes on to write that the internet exacerbates mental health issues: studies showing that "the empathy of mental health sufferers decreased for every hour they spent online".
Why Kevin Smith's Response is Perfect
If Kevin Smith responded in kind to this troll, it would have been understandable. To hear anyone say something like that about his daughter could have warranted a bitter and angry response. Instead, he gives the troll advice on how to better his own life:
"The better use of your time is to make YOUR dreams come true"
By being creative, and by focusing on bettering yourself, you can break the cycle of negativity that is at the heart of being a troll. Basically all therapists would agree that the best way to feel like you matter - and not by abusing people - is by working on something you are passionate about, and by cultivating your own garden. Good, passionate, creative work allows you to feel like you have worth, and is much more effective than engaging in futile abuse. Smith has reminded us all that the best way to respond to trolls is tell them to do better. As he says:
"Because if you're not being useful in this world you're being useless. Don't be useless: go make stuff that makes people happy!"
Here's hoping the trolls will take this message on board!
What Do You Think? Did Smith Write A Good Response?