J.K. Rowling’s Twitter timeline is pretty much my happy place, and now she’s done it again: this National Poetry Day, J.K. Rowling shared a poem about Internet trolls, and why we don’t need to be scared of them after all. The poem, “Invisible Men”, was written by Musa Okwonga in the midst of #gamergate — and challenges the men behind misogynistic online profiles to think about why they’re posting. It concludes that instead of fearing these trolls, we should pity them.
For people (particularly women) who suffer abuse online at the hands of trolls, this poem raises some interesting and reassuring points. While trolls can cause a lot of hurt by failing to recognize the real humans they are insulting, it can be easy when you’re under attack to forget that the trolls are real humans too. And, as Okwonga points out in his poem, they’re humans with enough fear and emptiness in their lives to drive them to set up these anonymous accounts in the first place. The poem forms part of Okwonga’s collection Eating Roses For Dinner, and if the other poems are as powerful as this one, then that’s a book I’ll be displaying pretty proudly on my bookshelf.
Of course, as soon as Rowling shared this poem about anonymous misogynists, she started receiving abuse from anonymous misogynists. This is why we can’t have nice things, Internet.