Although many of us were raised with the motto of "if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all," the internet has managed to pretty much do away with all that. Now everyone has a platform where they can spew hate, go on rants no one asked for, and even engage in direct conversations with the people they're dragging.
How did these people get their kicks before the age of social media, when they couldn't rely on a Twitter reply or rude Instagram DM for an instant dose of belligerent thrill?
Since we've had some years to adjust to the ways social media can bring out the worst in people, some folks have found surprisingly productive way to approach haters online. Beyond rising above the negativity, these brilliant humans have even changed the lives of their trolls — by showing them insults and abuse aren't the only tools to get attention.
In a Twitter thread that recently went viral, self-proclaimed "internet science guy" Abdul gave a hater a run for their money. It began when Michael, seemingly unprompted, lashed out at Abdul for his race.
Abdul undoubtedly got the last laugh when he posted their exchange with the caption, "My favorite thing in the world is responding to my hateful messages and seeing how fast I can change their mood."
Instead of ignoring the message to go back where he came from, Abdul exercised some compassion. He complimented Michael's avatar and even asked for self-care tips, specifically how he could go about getting teeth as white as his troll's.
Taken aback and probably even a little dismayed that he wasn't about to get the explosive argument he might have been looking for, Michael immediately apologized for the way he acted, saying he's "pretty nice usually" and just "a lil sick rn."
Is racism a side effect of the common cold? I thought that was just something you could catch from Ambien.
Rather than give Abdul the self-care tips he was asking for, Michael inexplicably conveys that his "girlfriend does it" — does he mean his teeth? "I don't really prefer it," he adds, "but I liked the pic." I'm not sure what any of this means, but if he managed to get a girl who brushes his teeth for him, wow, what a find.
Then Michael does a really surprising thing: he goes from disparaging Abdul with slurs one minute to actually complimenting him the next. All after just one kind exchange.
In no time, he's mentioning how he likes Abdul's "facial hair" and even wishes he "had some." Before long, these new friends are exchanging teeth whitening tips and Michael asks Abdul where he can grab these "activated charcoal capsules" he speaks of so highly.
For a conversation that started with Michael being a totally belligerent imbecile, it takes quite a wholesome turn for the best. He even apologizes a second time, after realizing he had more in common than he'd imagined with someone he'd just minutes before told to "go back the f--k wherever u came from."
And this all de-escalates even more, if you can believe it, when the new bros exchange "love u's" and wish each other a good night.
This is a perfect example of "if you can't beat them, join them," except... the other way around?
But Abdul isn't the only person online who can laugh off the hate and come out looking like a total hero. A friend of mine recently shared the inspired ways he gets back at haters on Grindr who relentlessly find the need to comment on his race as well.
What is it with this need to call people out just for being different than you? It's honestly exhausting. After receiving a slew of slurs, my buddy simply responded "I give you a big hug and a show of love!"
And although his good wishes left his troll bitter, he doubled down in the next exchange, wishing him "some help" and sending him "Hugs!"
Normal, everyday people aren't the only ones using love to shut down their haters. People in the public eye who could easily ignore these nasty messages are also taking a kinder approach to affect change in the lives of small-hearted trolls.
Just take Professor Mary Beard, who teaches history at Cambridge University and appeared on a popular BBC program a few years ago. When one person threw insults at her on Twitter, she went beyond taking the high ground. She took him out for a drink and, later, wrote him a few job recommendations.
"He is going to find it hard to get a job, because as soon as you Google his name that is what comes up," she told The Guardian at the time. "And although he was a very silly, injudicious, and at that moment not very pleasant young guy, I don't actually think one tweet should ruin your job prospects."
The famously nice Sarah Silverman has also employed these loving tactic when dealing with haters. After one troll called her a slur on Twitter, she took the time to read through his timeline, understand what was causing him suffering, and eventually even paid for his medical treatment.
"See what happens when u choose love," she writes.
It's amazing to me that in this day and age, when our country is filled with hatred and fear, people still find ways to show that kindness is what really makes the world go 'round.
Should you ever find yourself with an internet hater, this incredible charity allows you to donate on your troll's behalf. Talk about killing them with kindness.