(Ed’s note: You guys sure had a lot to say about Mitch last week. We thought it’d only be fair to give him a chance to rebut.)
Over the last week a number of people have asked me about Internet trolls leaving defamatory comments on this website and others. Even though common sense tells me to ignore them, here are responses in the form of an FAQ:
Do you know who’s leaving these comments? Yes. The comments are the inspired work of primarily one guy and a few of his friends. He’s the person who organized the fake businessman trip that I wrote about for the Atlantic in 2010 and he still holds the article against me.
Why does he hold it against you? That’s a great question. Since he knowingly invited a journalist on the trip, and later okayed the article if I omitted certain information – which I agreed to – I am also baffled by his behavior. Although there was no personal information in the 800-word Atlantic article I wrote, and nothing defamatory about him or anyone else, he still believes himself to be heinously wronged, and I for one am willing to pitch in a few dollars to build him the cross he longs to bear.
How do you know it’s him? For one, he has left some comments using his real name, and secondly, for the last three years he has bragged all over Beijing about how he intends to ruin/end my life. I’m sure he’s enlisted a few friends, and I’ve likely stepped on other toes over the years, but the comments are suspiciously similar and share many things in common: poor punctuation, rambling sentences, accusations of my alleged sexual improprieties (apparently I had a harem of married women hidden in my apartment) and threats of violence (“skull cracking pipes,” etc.). These types of comments have appeared below several articles I’ve written over the last few years. My troll is nothing if not loyal.
Does this person have nothing better to do with his time? Even though my troll is well into his thirties (as are his buddies), with a wife and child and company he runs with friends, it appears that, no, he does not have anything better to do with his time than leave libelous comments about someone he hasn’t seen in more than three years. He is apparently willing to risk his own reputation, and the reputation of his business, in his quest to embarrass me.
Is he crazy? I’m not a doctor, but if I were his mother I would be worried about my son’s mental health.
Should I believe what’s being said about you? If these comments are to be believed I was Satan incarnate who unleashed a six-year reign of terror on expat Beijing, preying on the helpless wives of migrant workers and boring people to excruciating death with my “clichéd” writing. Believe whatever you want.
What can you do about these comments? Even though many of the comments are clearly libelous, threatening legal action might only aggravate my troll. However, his threats of violence might have to be taken more seriously once he’s actually employed the skull cracking pipes and/or knocked out my teeth. Luckily for me though, all this nonsense is just creating more attention for my upcoming book, so maybe I should be thanking my troll(s). They’re also highly entertaining and great fodder for an article I’m working on about living with your own Internet troll, which I’ll be pitching to a major U.S. publication, where I have great connections because of my rampant self-promotion and shit-eating grin.