Internet trolls are not a new thing. They’ve crept into our lives over the past 10 years, turning comment sections into battlegrounds, taunting public figures, and spreading the kind of fear and hate your average high school bully could only dream of.
Most of us have learnt to ignore them – we hit the block or mute button and move on. We skip over their comments and only briefly wonder how someone could be so angry, so mean, so incapable of human compassion and empathy.
We shake our heads and imagine a sad little man who lives in his parent’s basement and thinks the world owes him something.
But the thing is - trolls don't always live on the fringes of society - they're often your uncle, your next door neighbour, the person sitting in the cubicle next to you. They're normal people who take pleasure out of posting little missives online and watching the fall out. And, most likely, they're the kind of people who would never think to say such hateful things to someone in real life.
When these trolls turn their attention to the deceased - people who have recently lost their lives and can no longer defend themselves - they take it a step too far. They cross a line that should never have needed to exist in the first place.
The practice of trolling someone who has passed away and posting hateful comments that only serve to upset their loved ones is called RIP trolling and unfortunately it's a far too common occurrence.
When a troll comments "Darwin Award" or "What a stupid girl, she won't be doing that again," it's not the person who has passed away who sees their thoughtless remarks - it's their family and friends who are grieving, who are in the midst of all the shock, anger, and overwhelming sadness that comes with losing someone close to you.
These trolls don't intend for this to be a harmless action - they know what they're doing. They want to upset these people, they want to diminish this person's life to a one-liner, they want to win the argument.
They think they're right, they're incapable of putting themselves in the shoes of the people who have just lost their loved one, and they won't listen to reason. When you try to argue with these trolls, to explain to them that they're commenting on a human life - they don't want to hear it, or they're incapable of hearing it.
Recently a young Australian woman lost her life in Bali in a scooter accident, and while the media reported that she may not have been wearing a helmet, people were quick to judge. They posted nasty little comments which they would never say to this woman's family and friends if they ran into them on the street.
They blamed her for her own death and were quick dismiss the tragedy - because how could someone deserve their empathy and compassion if they've made a mistake?
The trolls attacked this woman's relatives and friends when they tried to defend her in the comments section - because surely they have the right to comment on whatever they like? They can say whatever they think and feel in a public forum, right?
This woman is shutting down trolls by turning their words into cake. Post continues...
And they're right - they can - but that doesn't mean they should.
Trolls - if you're reading this - think about the lowest point in your life, when you lost someone close to you or suffered an unthinkable setback - and just imagine reading one of your hateful comments. Imagine how that would make you feel. Imagine that kick in the guts.
It's one thing to comment on an op-ed or argue over politics, but when you troll someone's death, you've gone way too far.