Last year, I set up a “fake” Facebook account. I named myself Annie.
I did this because there was this ball of fury and pain growing inside my chest and I didn’t know what to do with it.
Annie came along, with no profile picture and no friends, to simply defend me when nobody else would.
I used Annie twice. The first time I used her on a thread underneath a popular news outlet’s story that was dominated by commentary about how much my children appear to hate me, how desperate they look for a real mum and how poorly I’m raising them in general. The second time was when I was accused of not making the donations that I claim to make for Rafki Mwema – a charity that helps vulnerable children who are victims of sexual abuse in Kenya. It felt defamatory and it enraged me.
Now, Constance Hall couldn’t engage in this kind of crap. That would be lowering herself and she couldn’t be seen to do that.
So I created Annie and claimed that she knew Constance and none of these things were true. And nobody listened and I still felt like sh*t. It was a weird thing to do and this is the first time I’ve told anyone.
At first, the ball of anger inside my chest momentarily weakened. I felt like I had been defended even if it was by my imaginary mate Annie. But it wasn’t long before it returned, and that was enough for me. I could see this game getting addictive and let’s be honest, I have an army of kids to raise, an empire to build and a whole lot of trolls that rely on my content to keep their lives interesting.
Watch: Constance Hall’s viral Ted Talk. Post continues after video.
Last week, blogger Clemmie Hooper went viral for issuing an apology for creating a fake account and using it to originally defend herself on some of the most disgusting hate sites for bloggers that exist. She then admitted she got carried away and used the account to criticise other bloggers too, ultimately trolling her husband, himself a well-known Instagram personality. Perhaps most significantly, in her comments she accused a black woman – Candice Brathwaite – of being “aggressive,” and “always [bringing] it back to race, privilege and class because she knows no one will argue with that”.
“It feels like a weapon to silence people’s opinions,” Hooper wrote of the influencer and diversity advocate, after having invited Brathwaite to speak on her podcast about the unique risks black women face when giving birth.
The media and the trolls have gone to town on her, and she’s lost 30,000 followers.